• MAKE A BIG IMPACT IN LOWERING Workers’ Comp Litigation

    Make a Big Impact in Lowering Workers’ Comp Litigation
    By Kimberly Daise

    Use the Dispute resolution option and stop litigating. Use Alternative dispute resolution program. ADR programs are designed to totally eliminate litigation by negotiating workers’ compensation benefits and the dispute resolution process between the employer and its unions.
    While the unions appear not to be encouraging litigation, a large number of employees still retained the services of an attorney. Why? They said they got an attorney because they had not been contacted by their frontline supervisor and they were worried about their status within the company and their job.
    This can be resolved and lower by implementing a program within the business that requires the frontline supervisors to have consistent and repeated person to person contact with the employee.
    Frontline supervisors do not realize the profound positive impact they can have on their employees. I believe many frontline supervisors do not remain in contact with injured employees because the workers’ compensation claims administration process is not designed to encourage that interaction. Also, some supervisors are and can be uncomfortable trying to discuss a mysterious system that is expensive and complex. They also may be unsure of what they are allowed to discuss with the employee, out of concern for medical privacy. Even if these matters are not discussed the injured employee have a feeling that the employer cares, that they will be looked after and the employer has a vested interest in not only the company but there well-being as well.
    Based on my own ADR program study, I believe employers can help reduce their litigation rate if they encourage their frontline supervisors to remain in contact with employees after an industrial accident and coach them on appropriate interaction.
    The most important aspect of the process is to send the message that the employee is valued, respected and wanted back at work. Supervisors do not have to be workers’ compensation experts; they should convey a sense of care and a willingness to keep the employee connected to their team.
    Frontline supervisors may inquire with statements like these:
    1. How are you feeling?
    2. We miss you and the good work you do!
    3. We are having our birthday; if you can attend we would love to see you. Do you feel up to coming by?
    4. If you have any concerns please call me and let me know If I cannot help you I will find a person who can?
    Remember the smallest gestures can make the biggest impact. Don’t forget to show injured or ill employees how much caring counts throughout the recovery and return to work process.

    Keep your employees safe behind the wheel

    Keeping your employee’s safe behind the wheel

    Kimberly Daise

    There is a continued need for employers to keep their employee’s safe behind the wheel. 

     All employers who have workers that drive for business should have policies to ensure safe driving.  The policy should include:

    • A prohibition ban on texting and hand-held phone use.
    • A prohibition on driving while under the influence of any amount of alcohol, illegal drugs or certain prescription and over-the counter medications that may impact driving.
    • Training on safe driving strategies and discuss changes in road rules.
    • Allow workers to take short naps — 45 minutes or less — in a safe location if and when they are tired while driving.
    • Information on sleep disorders and other illnesses that may impact drowsiness.

    Protecting New Drivers

    Young workers have the highest crash rate based on miles driven, largely due to their inexperience. They are typically less able than other workers to recognize and respond to traffic risks.

    There are several steps employers should take to prevent accidents among the youngest workers. 

    1) Know the law. Young workers are restricted in terms of whether, when and how long they can drive for work and check and verify the conditions on which they are driving.

    2) Do background checks. Before hiring a young worker to drive, make sure he has a valid state license and has no record of any moving violations.

    3) Take precautions. Before sending the worker out on the road, make sure the assignment follows the laws for such things as driving restrictions and transporting others or certain products. 

    Decrease Risks for Older Drivers

    While older workers are more likely to adhere to safety regulations – such as wearing seatbelts, due to a decline in their physical and mental abilities that coincide with the aging process, they have twice the risk of dying when they do get into a work-related accident compared to younger workers.  Employers should consider the needs of older workers in their safety and health programs.

    4) Reconsider your options. Reducing the amount of time older workers are driving can prevent accidents.

    5) Be Flexible. Allow drivers to talk with their supervisors to adjust their driving hours if they have problems with night vision, for example, or if they are too tired or uncomfortable driving in bad weather (rain or snow).

    6) Test Ability. Conduct periodic assessments of drivers to determine their proficiency, and restrict driving based on the results.

    7) Gather Information. Older workers who take a variety of medications may be unaware of the effects they can have. Obtain the medication list and information about the potential effects of prescriptions.

    Keep your workers safe by eliminating risks.

     

    What are Transitional Duties

    What are Transitional Duties

    Kimberly Daise

    Transitional duty can share similarities across companies.  Take a look at these 9 points.

    1. Transitional duty is temporary.

     

    1. Transitional duty and alternate assignments are typically similar to the employee’s original job. Make sure they are as similar as possible so retraining is not necessary.

     

    1. Under certain circumstances, the injured employee might be transferred to a nearby location (cross-location, cross-divisional placement) for the transitional duty period, usually at no cost to the receiving location.

     

    1. Transitional duty assignments occur during regular business hours.  A transitional assignment that’s at odd hours or extended times may appear not be not transitional and can lead to a disgruntle worker.

     

    1. Employees on transitional duty are ineligible for overtime. Don’t ask them or assign them to work overtime.

     

    1. Transitional duty usually lasts no more than 60-120 days unless granted an extension, based on employee progress. (NOTE: Make sure the policy is flexible enough to meet requirements of the ADA.)

     

    1. If transitional duty is available and the employee refuses the assignment, the employer will deny lost wages if state law allows, because the employee voluntarily withdrew by refusing to work a suitable position. Remember the duty must be transitional.

     

    1. When employees reach maximum medical improvement, they return to their original positions.

     

    1. If an employee reaches maximum improvement and cannot resume the original position, the company can terminate, or offer another position if one is available. Check the state law where you are located.

     

     

     

     

    When will your employee return to work?

    By: Kimberly Daise

    Most employers want to know how long an employee will be off work following an injury at the workplace. There are a lot of factors that go into the answer.  It may include a review of the nature and extent of the injury, the employee’s age, the employee’s physical condition and the overall health.

    The most common types of injuries are sprains and fractures. There are several factors to be considered when determining the time the employee will be off work. The first factor to consider is the type and extent of the injury. A moderate sprained ankle heals much quicker than a compound femur fracture. To get an idea of how extensive the medical provider considers a sprain, look for the adjective before the word sprain or strain.

    The adjectives most commonly used with sprain and strains are: 

    • Slight – it happened and there is not much to it.
    • Moderate – slightly extensive than slight – middle range pain
    • Severe – more extensive than moderate – very painful

    To understand how extensive a fracture is look for the medical assessment terms:

    Most Fractures are described as follows:

    • Simple: it has cracked and little bit of damage to the surrounding tissue
    • Closed: basically, the same as a simple fracture
    • Compound: the bone has broken in more than one spot, or the fracture has created significant tissue damage
    • Open compound: the broken bone is exposed through a wound in the skin
    • Compression: in the vertebrae where a brittle bone, due to age or osteoporosis, has cracked

    Other terms used:

    • Complete fracture: A fracture in which bone fragments separate completely.
    • Incomplete fracture: A fracture in which the bone fragments are still partially joined.
    • Linear fracture: A fracture that is parallel to the bone’s long axis.
    • Transverse fracture: A fracture that is at a right angle to the bone’s long axis.
    • Oblique fracture: A fracture that is diagonal to a bone’s long axis.
    • Spiral fracture: A fracture where at least one part of the bone has been twisted.
    • Comminuted fracture: A fracture in which the bone has broken into several pieces.
    • Impacted fracture: A fracture caused when bone fragments are driven into each other.

    Consider Age & Conditioning

    In addition, the employee’s age may be a factor. A 25-year-old employee with a simple fracture will heal more quickly than a 55-year-old employee with the same injury.

    The employee’s physical conditioning before the injury can play a significant factor in the employee’s disability recovery time. The 50-year-old employee who very active will recover from an injury faster than a 20-year-old employee who spends all his free time in front of a video monitor.

    The overall state of an employee’s health will impact the disability time. For example: an employee with on-going medical issues such as obesity, diabetes, or other comorbidity issues will recover from an injury much slower than an employee who has the same injury, but no other on-going medical issues. Additionally, the non-smoker may recover from an injury faster than a smoker, all other factors being equal.

    The total disability time range is the expected length of time before the medical provider will allow the employee to return to light duty work. The partial disability time range is the approximate amount of time the employee should be in a light duty job.  It is important to review the injury assessment and consider the condition of the employee.  Review both to get an idea of back to work time and possible conditions.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Stop Employee Driving & texting

    By: Kimberly Daise

    Driving incidents, are potential reminders that having employees on the road can be a significant risk.

    While there are numerous states that have laws on books outlawing texting while driving, many people still do it.  This is where the employer can step in.

    Some of the people texting while driving is on the job, driving for the benefit of their employer. Image a tragic accident, employee texting and the vehicle belonged to the employer.  No doubt this has happened and will continue to happen unless employers’ step in.  What will be the ramifications for a company that owned the vehicle?

    So, for employers, what should they do to make sure issues like these don’t haunt them? I can recommend three things; education, technology and zero tolerance. Educating your employees as to the dangers is a logical first step. Documenting that process is critical. Have the employees sign an acknowledgement sheet explaining the employers’ policy of texting while driving any equipment. Technology can easily be deployed as well. When it comes to texting and driving, believe it or not, there are several apps for that.

    These blocking apps disable text and other distracting functions on company owned cell phones when the phone recognizes it is traveling. And finally, zero tolerance – which is exactly what it sounds like. Complete banning of employees texting while operating moving equipment, and fire them when they violate the rules. Set those expectations, and your correlated risk will drop. Too often the after product of a work injury includes the revelation that others knew of a dangerous behavior prior, but failed to do anything to correct the situation. Zero tolerance can address that a very quickly.

    Ultimately, employers should not make or accept excuses.  Eliminate and control texting at the work place.

     

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