OSHA, Post Accident Reporting and Drug Testing in the Workplace

Written by on 5/24/2017 2:31 AM in , , . It has 0 Comments.

OSHA laws regarding post-accident reporting and required drug testing in the workplace are rapidly evolving. This makes careful reviews of your current practices with your workers comp insurance consultant integral to compliance and avoiding legal ramifications resulting from the many conflicting laws nationwide.

The Recent Stir Regarding Post-Accident Drug Tests
Effective December 1, 2016, new OSHA regulations require employers to establish a “reasonable procedure” for employees to report work-related injuries/illnesses promptly and accurately. Employers are specifically warned against discouraging reporting and prohibited from retaliation. Thus far OSHA comments – but not official rulemakers – have expressed opinions on post-accident drug testing that have implied these tests are retaliatory and unlawful, unless facts indicate such impairment may have played a role.

What Does this Mean for the Many Employers Commonly Utilizing Drug Testing for Safety Programs?
OSHA has stated: “To strike the appropriate balance, drug testing policies should limit post-incident testing to situations in which employee drug use is likely to have contributed to the incident, and for which the drug test can accurately identify impairment caused by drug use.” How can you ensure compliance?

  • Review policies, ensuring compliance with current state-specific requirements.
  • Consider post-accident testing on a case-by-case basis, specifically following noted signs of impairment, training supervisors/managers on recognizing symptoms and documentation protocols.
  • Consider switching to oral fluid/saliva testing, which is non-invasive, and whose results can detect drug use and identify present psychoactive components immediately, and up to four days after drug-use.
  • Keep employees abreast of company policy changes.

As marijuana legalization expands, stay up-to-date on the latest OSHA actions, enlisting the trusted help of a workers comp insurance consultant from Minnesota Comp Advisor today.

Detecting Patterns of Injury is Job One for WorkComp Insurance Consultants

Written by on 5/22/2017 2:18 AM in , , , . It has 0 Comments.

Workers comp insurance consultants know the causes of on-the-job injury often involve more than obvious answers, and are rooted in deeper, underlying workplace situations. Are you neglecting to uncover them?

Many factors can contribute to workplace incidents:

  • Task-related factors
    The physical and mental demands of a task, task pace, total workload, clarity of procedures, and conflicts between policy and practices (shortcuts) often contribute to worksite incidents.

  • Environmental factors
    Access to safety gear, work area layout and space, equipment/tools used (including design and maintenance), as well as seemingly common factors like lighting, noise, air quality, and temperature are all part-and-parcel of the workplace safety puzzle.

  • Organizational issues
    The business’ culture of safety (inspections, maintenance, safety programs), staffing/scheduling practices, communication and reporting all drive success (or failure).

  • Workforce complications
    Experience and training, employee attitudes and perception of risks, fatigue and stress can all play a role.

How can these underlying causes be detected?
In-depth analysis is essential to inspiring meaningful change – analysis that goes beyond the human error, to ask and uncover why an error was made. Fact-finding and not fault-finding, or a ‘systemic approach’ is essential to preventing a hostile environment.

How can this be accomplished? Incident investigation, worksite inspections, job task analysis, surveys, and more can help root out and identify actual and potential injury and illness catalysts. However, across-the-board cooperation is key, including health and safety professionals, committee members, supervisors, and especially employees.

Workers comp insurance consultants have the skills it takes to detect patterns of injury and prevent needless claims. Do you have a skilled consultant on your side? Head-off injuries at the pass with the help of Minnesota Comp Advisor today.

The Dangers of Tolerance with Opioid Pain Management Medications

Written by on 5/17/2017 2:15 AM in , , . It has 0 Comments.

When used for pain management in longstanding cases, the development of drug tolerance with opioid use is fairly common. How can you work with your workers comp insurance consultant to protect workers against tolerance dangers?

Know the Signs
Tolerance is a normal physiological response: The body becoming accustomed to a drug dose over time. If opioids are increased and symptoms stabilize – that's a prime indicator of drug tolerance.

Dangers of Tolerance

  • Dependence
    Dependence occurs when the body gets sick without opioids for 12 hours or more. Symptoms of withdrawal include nausea, diarrhea, anxiety, insomnia, sweating, irritability, and runny nose.

  • Addiction
    Once opiate tolerance develops, the likelihood of physical dependence (addiction) rises. The increased perception of pain often leads to abuse, as sufferers seek to use the drug on their own terms: (1) higher than prescribed doses, (2) dependence on its mood-altering effects, and (3) doctor shopping or gaining scripts from multiple prescribers.

  • Overdose
    The second leading cause of death in the U.S., opiate overdose is increasingly common with those who’ve developed a tolerance, particularly following periods of abstinence (such as incarceration), after which they return to their previous (but now overly high) dose. This often leads to a fatal overdose, particularly alongside alcohol, benzodiazepines, sleeping pills, antihistamines, and antidepressants. Signs include an inebriated look, mood swings, excessive sleepiness, slow breathing, and confusion.

Tolerance is NOT a Permanent Condition
Physical tolerance only remains with continued intake of opiates. Psychological tolerance, however, is another matter, lasting many years post-addiction.

Prevent addiction and protect injured workers with the help of a workers comp insurance consultant who’s on your side. Join the team at Minnesota Comp Advisor today.

Three Top Issues HR Managers Will Struggle with in 2017

Written by on 5/15/2017 2:37 AM in , . It has 0 Comments.

A recently released report from The Hackett Group shed new light on the demands of HR departments over the year 2017, and the resources available to reach objectives. Could a workers comp insurance consultant help you reach your goals?

Big Ideas, Declining Budgets
According to the report, HR departments have big plans for improving company capabilities, but are doing so on sluggish or skinnier budgets, reducing the critical resources necessary to make desired changes. Of those polled, 39% of companies expect an increase in budget, 29% a decrease; with HR staffing expected to increase in 25% of surveyed companies, and decrease in 23%.

Falling Behind
Report findings indicated HR departments are lagging on certain tasks critical to helping business without the necessary resources to accomplish these changes.

  • 57% have major initiatives in place for adapting talent to changing company business needs.
  • 25% have plans in place for addressing talent shortages.
  • 29% are trying to train new leaders.
  • 26% have high hopes of improving customer service goals.
  • 47% have a digital transformation strategy.

Technologically Trailing
Though HR has recognized digital tools are becoming increasingly crucial to improving HR function, only 34% believe their companies have the resources necessary to dedicate for implementing digital tools. This leads many HR executives to call out their companies for not prioritizing this shift. Compounding the problem: This technology will greatly change HR practices, adding the need to build new skills and develop new roles/positions within HR departments.

What issues are your business struggling with this year? Find the help you need to implement money-saving strategies with the help of a professional workers comp insurance consultant from Minnesota Comp Advisor today

Absentee Management Programs Boost Company Productivity

Written by on 5/10/2017 1:35 AM in , , . It has 0 Comments.

Could a workers comp insurance consultant help you better manage long-term absences and the way they impact your productivity and bottom-line? A new study from The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America has unearthed ways employers are utilizing certain programs to aid employees – and their businesses - during absences.

Key Takeaways:
The hope is that businesses taking advantage of certain absence management strategies can create better outcomes for their company, as well as for the employees in need of the long-term time off. In the study, employers received one-point for every element (out of 10 total elements) that equaled a full absence management program, including:

Best Practices

  • Return-to-work programs
  • Health management referrals
  • Reporting capabilities
  • A centralized intake process
  • Resources for FMLA leave and short-term disability

Supporting Practices

  • Wellness/prevention programs
  • Program incentives
  • Disease management referrals
  • Integrated reporting for FMLA/disability
  • Centralized STD/FMLA administration

Climbing to Success
The 2016 company index scores averaged 4.4 – an increase from 3.7 in both 2014 and 2012 surveys, showing the biggest gains in mid-sized businesses (those with 250-1,000 employees). Sixty-three percent of these programs have shown both an increase in productivity and a positive employee experience, with 61% reducing lost time - a 10% increase from the previous study (2014). Fifty-seven percent have also reduced absenteeism-related costs, a substantial improvement from 38% in 2014. Nine-of-ten now offer such programs, with 32% investing in resources to add them to their arsenal.

Not sure how to get the absenteeism management ball rolling? A workers comp insurance consultant can set you on the path to success. Learn more from Minnesota Comp Advisor today.

Pharmacy Benefit Management Tips to Save Money

Written by on 5/8/2017 2:26 AM in , , . It has 0 Comments.

In today’s era of exorbitantly high health care costs, it can be hard for anyone to catch a break. When working with pharmacy benefit management (PBM) programs like CVS Caremark and Express Scripts, clarity is key to preventing frustrated, financially-strapped employees – and your bottom line.

What’s a PBM?
Basically the ‘middle man,’ PBMs function as third-party administrators for prescription drug programs. Often bigger than the companies they negotiate drug deals for, they not only process claims, but develop/maintain formularies, negotiate prices and coverage percentages, discounts and rebates, pharmacy contracts, and more.

How to Make Sure Everyone’s Getting What They Paid For
Following the 2016-2017 EpiPen debacle, where individuals on PBM plans found themselves paying $600 for a single EpiPen (it was later discovered drug intermediaries, including PBMs, pocketed half the dough), there's been lots of push-back for transparency in the pharmacy benefit management business.

The Clear Path to Finding a Good Plan:
When negotiating 2018 benefits, look for transparency in contracts to better track hidden costs. Arming yourself with this information can help you educate workers on paths to prescription savings. Superior PBMs offer…

  • Transparency in contract terms.
    Plan sponsors are far more satisfied with programs that have transparent pricing: Those that allow access to all data, disclose all revenue sources and eliminate hidden cash flows.
  • Models that frown upon ‘spread’ pricing.
    The difference between what a plan is billed and the amount the pharmacy is reimbursed – ‘the spread’ – is where less-satisfying programs often make money.
  • Plans with a fair appeals process.
    So doctors/patients can achieve proper treatment.

Pharmacy benefit management giving you a headache? Minnesota Comp Advisor is here to help.

Wearable Technology Comes to the Construction Industry

Written by on 5/3/2017 2:22 AM in , , . It has 0 Comments.

Could wearable technology be among the business tips you need for controlling workers comp costs? Fueled by the Internet of Things, technology geared toward safety is becoming increasingly available – and affordable – especially when compared to the true expense of on-the-job injuries.

Who’s Jumping On Board?
Once extraordinarily slow to adapt to technology, according to JB Knowledge’s 2015 Tech Report, construction firms taking advantage of cloud-based software and technology have more than doubled since 2012, with many already beginning to adopt wearable tech, whose offerings go far beyond safety to encompass productivity, knowledge, and endless data capabilities.

What Smart Gadgets are Changing the Construction Industry?

  • Smart Helmets
    Virtual visors show tasks-at-hand within visible workspace, aiding in training and better understanding job scope, as well as providing extensive data mining capabilities.
  • Smart Vests
    Redpoint’s GPS-infused safety vests identify predefined hazards, slow/deactivate equipment, and allow employees to request help at their specific geo-targeted location.
  • Smart Glasses
    Camera-equipped glasses wired to the internet allow live monitoring, and the capability for experienced technicians to provide real-time feedback to new learners without the need to be on-site.
  • Bionic Exoskeleton Suits
    Move over Iron Man - prevent poor body mechanics and aid workers in lifting heavy loads, reducing painful and costly back injuries and muscle strains.
  • Wristband Gesture Controller
    The Myo by Thalmic Labs reads arm gestures, and when paired with certain devices (PowerPoint, Drones, Smart Glasses, Netflix ...), can translate these gestures to action. A great tool to prevent the need to drop equipment or gloves to operate electronic devices.

Do you have the ‘smart’ business tips you need to better control workers comp costs? Thumb-on-over to Minnesota Comp Advisor today.

Tips for Mitigating the Opioid Abuse Problem for Patients Suffering from Chronic Pain

Written by on 5/1/2017 2:17 AM in , , . It has 0 Comments.

Employee Management Tips:

Stopping Diversion
The transfer of opioid analgesics by patients who have received legitimate prescriptions to others can be thwarted with the commitment of all prescribers to Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs), including mandatory consultation of a PDMP before prescribing. This will identify doctor-shopping patients alongside over-prescribing physicians. Reporting and accessibility idiosyncrasies, however, must be ironed out.

Preventing Overdose
Quadrupling in the past 15 years, 61% of U.S. drug overdose deaths in 2014 were attributable to opioids – with nonfatal ODs even more prevalent. Type, dose, potency, duration of action, history of substance addiction, liver/kidney dysfunction, depression/suicidal tendencies, and previous overdose(s) increase the risk, as does the concurrent prescription of respiratory depressants.

Here, the risk assessment, drug pre-screening, and patient education on risk factors and signs are key. Extreme caution is also warranted for high-dosage or long-acting drugs, along with more frequent follow-up and patient/family member access to naloxone, a fast-acting injectable medicine for the treatment of overdose.

Dealing with Addiction
Methods for preventing addiction parallel overdose-prevention measures, such as risk assessment, drug contracts, regular monitoring, and pre-prescription urine drug testing, are key to success. Referrals for addiction treatment should be used whenever necessary, including specialized or medication-assisted treatment and naloxone access.

Put today’s health issues in the spotlight for the betterment of your workplace with these and other employee management tips from MinnesotaCompAdvisor today.

May 1, 2017 Workers Compensation Seminar: A Discussion for Employers

Written by on 4/26/2017 2:14 AM in , . It has 0 Comments.

New to the workers comp arena, or simply struggling to manage your program and costs? Stop the struggle and fill in the blanks with the help of our FREE workers comp insurance seminar!

Join Us Monday, May 1, 2017
At the Allina Health New Ulm Medical Center Auditorium from 10:00am to 11:00 am (for a complimentary breakfast) and a discussion of the nuts and bolts of workers comp.

Topics of Discussion Will Include:

  • What exactly is workcomp?
  • How does it affect you, as the employer?
  • The impact an injury has on the worker.
  • The insurance carrier’s role.
  • The medical provider’s role (in the event of injury).
  • An overview of claims costs.
  • Claims examples.
  • Inclusion and valuation of losses as they relate to experience ratings.
  • Best practices for controlling costs.

Presented by Minnesota Comp Advisor’s Own Mark Kraemer
Mark Kraemer, CIC, CWCA, CSRM Certified Work Comp Advisor will guide you on your journey. One of Minnesota’s first workcomp advisors and first agency advisor for one of the largest self-insured funds in the state, Mark is a long-time speaker and educator on the topic of workers comp. Educating everyone from industry veterans to the uninitiated, take advantage of his expertise to find yourself on a smoother path to workers comp insurance success. Learn more about his teamwork approach to controlling and minimizing claims, integral to workcomp costs and savings, while demystifying the workers comp insurance and claims process. You are not alone in your workers comp struggles.

Reserve your spot today for this FREE workers comp insurance seminar. Register by phone or email today: 612-236-1771 or mwells@minnesotacompadvisor.com. Hurry! Space is limited.

View the Event Page.

When Your Employee's Spouse is Disabled, What to Know

Written by on 4/24/2017 2:13 AM in , , , . It has 0 Comments.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) helps employees balance the medical needs of family members with workplace demands. The wrong employee management here, however, could put you in violation – and cost you big. Here’s what you need to know…

Who’s Covered?
Only employees who’ve worked for you at least 12-months (1,250+ hours) prior to requesting leave are eligible. Businesses must also be eligible: Typically workplaces holding 50+ employees who work within 75 miles of its location, though this varies by state.

Term Length
Employees can take up to 12-weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period, up to 26-weeks for military spouses. This can be a single 12-week period (or less), leave on an hourly/intermittent basis, or leave in the form of a part-time schedule.
You may require your employee to use available paid time such as PTO, vacation or sick time first, but it is important to know that this will count against the 12-week allotment.

Proof of Injury
There are specific documents the employee has to provide to allow an employee to qualify for the FMLA, one being a “Certificate of Health Care Provider”. The employee must provide to the employer as evidence of a qualified disability.

Job Restoration
Restoring your employee to their
previous position is ideal, but not required. You MUST however, return the employee to an equivalent job, with equivalent pay, benefits, and terms of employment. You do have an obligation to keep your businesses running smoothly, but cannot demote those seeking leave to a subordinate position on-return.

Don’t let employee management mistakes leave you in a difficult position. Minnesota Comp Advisor is here to help. Contact us today.

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