Travelers' Early Severity Predictor: A way to predict who'll become a drug addict in your workplace.

Allen, 25, works in a Trenton, New Jersey, auto body shop alongside a middle-aged man who’s straining to lift bumpers and fenders. Allen’s co-worker came back after a hip replacement because he feared that he would be fired. Allen knows this guy will turn to “street meds” to ease his pain.

Dr. Adam Seidner knows the same thing -- from his sky-high view as global medical director at Travelers Insurance (TRV). Armed with “big data” on 1.5 million injuries and disabilities, Seidner believes he can predict who’s at risk of becoming an addict -- and how best to treat them. That has led Travelers to develop a system to profile not actual painkiller addicts, but potential ones.

If Seidner is right, it could help address a problem that’s now a plague. Some 2 million Americans are hooked on highly potent prescription drugs like fentanyl, while another 500,000 are “in the clutches of heroin.” In recent years, more Americans have died annually from overdoses, 33,000 of them, than from car accidents - a list that includes celebrities such as Prince and Michael Jackson.

So what’s Seidner’s solution? First, get rid of the addiction fiction claiming that people choose to become junkies. “Perhaps 5 percent of addicts do it for the euphoria,” said Seidner, who spent years detoxing prisoners. “Most take opioids to relieve suffering from chronic pain.”

And that’s scary because it puts an estimated 50 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain in the cross-hairs of potential addiction. They come to doctors’ offices complaining of bad backs, repetitive stress, falls, strains and “soft tissue” injuries. Ever since the 1980s, about nine times out of 10, doctors have traditionally prescribed the most effective remedy for pain: drugstore opioids. They range from the mild, like codeine, to the strong, such as OxyContin (oxycodone) and Percocet (a combination of acetaminophen and oxycodone).

Although opioids curb the pain, they don’t cure the patient. And they have a will of their own. Within a month, these drugs invade the patient’s mind, which then tells the body to “feel” pain, whether it’s real or not, and thus creates a dependency. Patients then demand the opioid -- in stronger and stronger doses -- and if they can’t get it legally or through their medical plan, they may steal prescription pads, use drugs like Imodium that mimic some of opioids’ effects and ultimately move on to street sources, where a $10 bag of heroin is both cheaper and stronger than a $200 prescription.

After years of trying to “just say ‘no’” to an epidemic that kills 46 people a day in the U.S., the medical profession, along with federal and state governments, recognized the danger. “I will not willingly watch another 1,600 of our citizens die,” former presidential candidate and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told his state legislature this year.
 
On Jan. 19, the mayor of Everett, Washington, also asked the city council to authorize a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, alleging that it knew the painkiller was being diverted to the illicit market and didn’t do enough to stop it. But stopping the deadly flow of painkillers is a difficult process. As one doctor in Princeton, New Jersey, who asked not to be identified, said: ”What do you do when a patient comes to you in pain?” Physicians still write more than 200 million opioid prescriptions a year.

The latest data from Maryland, Ohio and New England, where the opioid crisis is most intense, shows an increase in fatalities. Drug companies have promoted medications like fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that can be as much as 50 times more potent that heroin. “It’s like pushing on one side of a balloon,” said Travelers’ Seidner. “It just bulges out the other.”

Travelers has a big dog in this fight. It’s the largest workers’ compensation insurer in a $45 billion business that helps companies manage medical benefits for employees injured on the job. It handles a quarter-million of these claims each year. The longer an employee stays off the job and runs up medical bills, the more the insurer loses. The average claim now runs $40,000 over three years. But with caps on temporary disability now declared unconstitutional in some states, claims could last for decades.

That’s where Travelers’ addict-prediction model comes in, because the first step is to identify a potential addict. To do that, Seidner has assembled “statisticians and brainiacs” to predict which injuries will turn into chronic pain cases and push the patient down the “slippery slope” to opioid dependency.

Travelers developed a program called Early Severity Predictor, which looks at four areas:

Pharmaceutical frequency - What drugs are the patients using and how much. Are they also popping pills on the side?

Co-morbidity - Are they suffering from other conditions, like diabetes or osteoporosis? Do they smoke?

Muscular health - Are they in good condition?

Mental health - Are they angry with their employers? Do they fear going back to work and facing the same injury?
 
Other factors - Sex, socioeconomic status, education and the nature of the injury: shoulder, knee or slipped disk.

A typical person with a chronic injury who might become dependent could be a middle-aged white male factory worker with a bad back. Identifying the potential addict is only part of the problem. Getting rid of the chronic pain and the potential addiction is the other. 

Once such a patient is identified, Travelers can begin to harness resources. It starts by talking to the patient’s doctor. In many states, doctors are under no obligation to talk to the insurer, but nearly seven in 10 will. This is probably because the insurer covers treatments like physical therapy, sports medicine, stimulation devices, yoga, stretching and psychology. “We embrace all modalities, but we don’t do traditional psychoanalysis,” said Seidner. “Instead, we use therapy that will change behavior.”

Seidner and his team have analyzed 20,000 cases of opioid addiction since 2015, identified 9,000 at-risk patients and worked with 2,500 of them. Since then, about 1,400 no longer demonstrate any significant use of opioids, and medical expenses have fallen by 50 percent. Much of that reduction has come from reduced use of opioids, which used to constitute 50 percent of all the prescription drugs that workers comp paid for, according to Travelers Vice President Rich Ives. Now it’s only 23 percent. Vice President Loretta Worters of the Insurance Information Institute, which represents the industry, concurred that “Travelers Early Severity Predictor is certainly helping.”

Let’s be clear. Travelers will only help the companies that pay its premiums and the people employed by those companies. But its strategy, including how to predict drug addiction, provides a roadmap for governments, doctors or anyone with a chronic injury who wants to escape the curse of opioid dependency. In some instances, it’s as easy as looking in a mirror. If you’re taking drugs for a bad back, consider stretching. If you hate your job, try to find another one before you’re reinjured. If you’re depressed, seek help. Opioids will only make things worse. And when you take an opioid of any kind, the addiction clock is ticking. If taken longer than a month, you may already be addicted and not even know it.
 
Finally, when you see a doctor for pain, ask whether another treatment beside opioids might work - before he or she pulls out the prescription pad. “Probably 80 percent of the time it’s a bad idea to prescribe opioids,” Seidner said. “We need to address the pain, but how we do it is the important thing.”
 
​For more information, Click Here.
 
Dan Zeiler
708.597.5900 x134
dan@zeiler.com
 
Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/a-way-to-predict-wholl-become-a-drug-addict/?ftag=CNM-0010aab7e&linkId=33675340&linkId=34113097

 

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Tips for Safer Telecommuting Habits from a Telecommuter

Tips for Safer Telecommuting Habits from a Telecommuter

EMC Risk Improvement Consultant Laurie Hoskins is among the 3.7 million employees who frequently work from home. According to a recent Gallup study, regular telecommuting has grown 103% since 2005. That represents a loss control challenge for employers who are responsible for the safety of employees regardless of where they work. “Basically, employers need to train their off-site employees to be their own risk manager,” comments Hoskins, who shares her experience as both a telecommuter and a loss control professional.

Be an Equal Ergonomic Employer
You won’t find Hoskins sitting in a couch or easy chair with a computer in her lap. Technology has not only made telecommuting possible, but also a hazardous job. “With the amount of time the average worker spends using the computer, cases of cumulative trauma disorders (CTD) are on the rise,” warns Hoskins. To reduce these types of injuries, employers need to invest in training to make employees more aware of ergonomic guidelines. These tips are a good starting point.

  • Office chairs should allow for the following adjustments: chair height, seat back angle and height, seat pan depth and armrests. The following adjustments should be considered: operator’s feet are firmly on the floor when sitting back in chair; 90°–110° angle in knees, hips and elbows; there should be a few inches of space between edge of seat and knees; lumbar support should fit into the small of the worker’s back; arms should be relaxed and forearms parallel with floor. If the work surface is too high, raise the chair, lower the workstation or add a footrest.
  • An external keyboard and mouse should be used when working with a laptop or tablet.
  • Keyboard trays and monitor risers should be used as needed, so fingers are relaxed, wrists are straight and the top of the monitor is at eye level.
  • Monitors should be at least an arm’s length away.
  • Lighting should be arranged to reduce reflections or glare from computer monitors.
  • Train employees to improvise when on the road. For example, Hoskins recommends using an ironing board as a work surface in a hotel room because it can be easily adjusted to the proper height for the keyboard, mouse or monitor.

Going Beyond Chairs, Desks and Good Posture
Desks and chairs that facilitate good posture and reduce repetitive muscle strain are only part of the challenge telecommuters face. The Federal Emergency Management Agency shares the following safe and healthy telecommuting tips with its employees:

  • Fidgeting is actually beneficial. Mayo Clinic researchers in 2005 concluded the more you move—even tapping your feet under a desk—the less likely it is that you will gain weight. Small movements have major lifestyle impacts.
  • When telecommuting, use the time saved from commuting to exercise. Whether it’s a brisk walk around the neighborhood, a run or going to the gym, a little exercise has physical and psychological benefits during the workday.
  • Computer cords and telephone chargers can become a tangled mess and cause trip hazards. Avoid this risk by ensuring there is no path between your workstation and your outlet.

"A home office should offer the same level of safety as the employee would enjoy in a traditional office setting," adds Hoskins. To that end, she recommends the following best practices for telecommuters:

  • Home office smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed and checked on a regular basis.
  • Telecommuters should have clear access to a functioning fire extinguisher and a well-stocked first aid kit.
  • Telecommuters should take the time to have a written emergency plan that includes emergency contact numbers posted near the phone and periodic contact time scheduled with coworkers.

The Good News and Bad News About Telecommuting
The advantages associated with telecommuting are too great to ignore. Employees have greater flexibility and higher job satisfaction while employers improve retention, reduce absenteeism, improve their recruiting efforts and save on office space requirements. But accidents and injuries that can reduce productivity and increase insurance costs can happen in any work environment. “Remember, you’re responsible for the safety of workers wherever they work,” concludes Hoskins.

Dan Zeiler

dan@zeiler.com

708.597.5900 x134

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Update - NCCI Audit Noncompliance Charge Endorsement

Effective 1/1/2017 the National Council on Compensation Insurance approved a Workers Compensation policy endorsement where an insurance company can charge up to 2x the originally estimated premium when a policy holder is in non-compliance with an audit request. 
 
In addition, failure to cooperate with the audit may result in a cancellation of Workers Compensation coverage. Audit noncompliance will disqualify an employer from obtaining coverage from any insurance company until the outstanding audit is completed.
 
We realize these audits can be time consuming, our staff is available to assist with questions and audit preparation. 
 
Feel free to contact us should you need help.
 
Dan Zeiler
dan@zeiler.com
708.597.5900 x134

 

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How to Report Work Comp Fraud

The Illinois Department of Insurance has a newly redesigned Workers' Compensation Fraud Web Site.

They provide complete complaint checklists in order to report someone you suspect carrying out Work Comp Fraud.

Below are the pieces of information you need to complete the complaint and email to DOI.WorkCompFraud@illinois.gov

Provide the following information in matters that may involve fraud perpetrated by a claimant:

  • Identity of the claimant

  • Date of injury, if known

  • Type of Injury

  • Activity level with a vivid description of activity

  • Employer, if known

  • Insurance company, if known

  • Secondary employer, if known, or if claimant is self-employed

  • Additional witnesses

  • Complainant must submit in writing, identify themselves, and be willing to testify

If the target is an employer, healthcare provider, attorney, or insurance agent/company, the complainant should provide:

  • Name/address of company or business

  • Relationship to business owner or company if any (employee, partner, etc)

  • Name/address of insurance agent or company

  • Name/address of healthcare provider and dates of treatment

  • Name/address of attorney

  • Synopsis of what they believed constituted the fraud

  • Additional witnesses

  • Complainant must submit in writing, identify themselves, and be willing to testify

You may always contact the Illinois Department of Insurance directly at:

Illinois Department of Insurance
Workers’ Compensation Fraud Unit
122 S. Michigan Ave., 19th Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60603
877-WCF-UNIT (877-923-8648)
DOI.WorkCompFraud@illinois.gov

For more information visit - http://insurance.illinois.gov/wcfu/


Dan Zeiler

dan@zeiler.com

708.597.5900 x134

 

 

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Transitional Task Ideas - How to Bring an Employee Back to Work Sooner

When an employee is off work due to an injury or illness, an effective return to work program can help you bring that employee back to work—in a modified capacity—as soon as they are medically able. This can help you save money and help improve your experience mod. But if that worker is restricted from doing all or part of their normal job, what are you supposed to do with them?

Transitional Work
Transitional work allows an employee with temporary work restrictions to work in a modified or alternative capacity for a defined period of time, while recuperating from an illness or injury. Many times, simply changing regular job duties or hours worked (providing “modified work”) can accommodate common medical restrictions. In other cases, you may offer the employee a position other than his or her regular job (called “alternative work”) in order to meet the temporary work restrictions.

But What If I Don’t Have Transitional Work?
You may not think you have any transitional work available, but a little thought can yield a list of tasks that can be completed by recovering employees. If you find yourself stumped trying to come up with ideas, consider asking your team for suggestions. Employees can usually tell you what tasks are routinely put off due to a lack of time or manpower. These “rainy day” tasks that never seem to get done could be the perfect way to utilize employees who have temporary restrictions that keep them from doing their normal jobs.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Safety-Focused Tasks

Equipment Maintenance

  • Inspect heavy equipment
  • Take company vehicles in for servicing
  • Test or repair equipment
  • Cleaning, repairing and sharpening tools
  • Fill vehicle/equipment gas tanks

Office Work

  • Shred outdated materials/paper
  • Complete upcoming continuing education or certification requirements
  • Order supplies
  • Answer phones and schedule jobs/employees

Other Ideas

  • Conduct an inventory
  • Calculate estimates
  • Train new workers
  • Work as traffic flagger (if qualified)
  • Run errands
  • Site clean-up
  • Site security
  • Job shadow a supervisor

Let us know if you need help with more ideas.

Dan Zeiler

dan@zeiler.com

708.597.5900 x134

 

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EMC: New OSHA Reporting Rule in Effect Now

New OSHA Reporting Rule in Effect Now

With a new OSHA rule in place that affects more employers than in the past, your company may need to change how you report and submit injuries and illnesses. You’ll also want to review your company policies regarding worker notification, as this rule also has several updates that may affect your policies.

This rule is now in effect, so make sure you understand the implications for your company. Read some highlights below and make sure you understand the full implications, but also check OSHA to find more details to determine your company’s requirements.

Submitting Injury and Illness Details
You may currently fill out and turn in Forms 300 (log), 300A (annual summary) and/or 301 (incident report). While you must still complete, retain and certify these records, you may need to change the way you submit some of this information to OSHA. Here are the basics of the electronic submission requirements:

  • You can file the information using one of three ways: an online form, uploading a CSV file or transmitting via an application programming interface (API). The site is scheduled to go live in February 2017.
  • Because this information will become public, all individual employee identification information will be removed from the submission before online publication of data.
  • All data submitted will be available at the OSHA website for others to view and download.

Size of Company Matters in Submission Requirements
This rule divides companies into those with 250 or more workers at the same location and those with 20 to 249 workers at the same location (OSHA refers to the same location as the same establishment).
Several points to be aware of:

  • If a company has multiple locations, each one is rated separately, depending on the number of workers at that location. For example, if one company location has 500 workers, but the same company has another location with 150 workers, the requirements may be different for each location.
  • The employee count is the total number of workers at peak employment during the year, including temporary and seasonal workers, as well as part-time employees.
  • For companies with 20 to 249 workers, the reporting requirements apply only if the location is a ”high hazard” industry. View the list of industries that must submit electronic reports to see if your organization is included.

Protect Your Company and Employees

  • Consult legal counsel about best practice reporting procedures for your company, HIPAA and other legal requirements to protect employees’ rights.
  • Review Form 300A for 2016 to ensure it meets the requirements.

Required Reports and Reporting Deadlines:

Submission Year

Forms required for establishments with 250+ employees

Forms required for establishments with 20-249 employees

Deadline to submit forms

 

  2017

 

  Forms 300A

 

  Form 300A

 

  July 1, 2017

  2018   Forms 300 logs, 300A, 301   Form 300A   July, 2018

Beginning in 2019, the submission deadline will be changed from July 1 to March 2.

Rules to Encourage Workers to Report Incidences
The new rules include specific actions all employers, regardless of company size, must take to encourage workers to report work-related injuries and illnesses. These rules also prohibit employer retaliation against workers who make these reports.

Employers are required to develop and implement an injury and illness reporting policy. They must also let employees know:

  • They have a right to report work-related injuries and illnesses
  • How to report injuries and illnesses
  • They will not be discriminated against for reporting an injury or illness
  • Drug testing may occur following an injury or accident when drug use likely contributed to the incident

Other Steps for Employers

  • Review any safety incentive programs you have in place. These incentives may be viewed as creating a company culture where reporting injuries is discouraged. For example, offering a pizza party or gift cards to a crew if there are no reported injuries during a month is considered a disincentive to reporting. An acceptable incentive might be a bonus for an employee observed working safely, reporting unsafe working conditions or serving on a safety committee.
  • If your policies include the phrase “immediately report,” seek legal advice on whether you need to make a policy change. “Immediately report” potentially discourages employees from reporting an injury that may have seemed minor when it occurred, but gets worse over time (e.g., a cut that gets infected).
  • Once reported information is published on the OSHA website, you can compare your company’s safety performance to that of similar organizations. This may help you set additional safety goals or incorporate new procedures.

Find More Information

Dan Zeiler

dan@zeiler.com

708.597.5900 x134

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Intoxication and a Denied Work Comp Claim

The Illinois Workers Compensation Reform Bill of 2011 allowed for the denial of benefits when intoxication was the primary cause of an employee injury.  Our office recently had the first case where a claim has been denied.   

An employee of a local landscape contractor stuck his hand under a mower guard.  Needless to say the result wasn’t good for the employees hand.   A supervisor, following claim procedures, went to the sight to investigate and document the incident.  The employee was then driven to their assigned occupational health clinic for treatment.  This landscape contractor includes post-accident drug screening in their loss control program.  The employee was tested and a number of illegal substances were found to be in this employees blood system.  A claim was submitted to the workers compensation carrier and with the encouragement of the employer - the claim was denied.  

We ran the numbers through our workers compensation experience modification calculation tool.  The minimum claim cost including treatment and indemnification benefits is estimated to be $15,000.  The effect on the mod was 14% and a three year additional premium cost to the employer of $12,627.

We can help your business establish a drug free program. Options include:

  • Post-Offer (pre-employment) Testing
  • Probable Suspicion / Reasonable Cause Testing
  • Post-Accident Testing
  • Random Testing

Please reach out to us if we can be of any assistance.

Dan Zeiler

dan@zeiler.com

708.597.5900 x134

 

 

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Creative Solutions to Reduce Manual Material Handling Injuries

Are your employees lifting, pushing, pulling and carrying objects more than they need to? According to the National Safety Council, overexertion from manual material handling activities like these is the third leading cause of workplace injuries in the United States, costing employers $13.4 billion a year. The cost may be even higher when you factor in the effect fatigue from overexertion has on overall productivity, work quality and an increase in workplace accidents.

Creative Solutions for Common Problems

  • A school needed a less strenuous way to fold sections of auditorium seating. Administration considered purchasing new sections with automated mechanics to do the job, but that was too expensive. Instead, the custodian welded a $20 piece of angle iron into a pry bar that could be used to lift the section of seats up and into its pocket.
  • A manufacturer wanted to reduce the amount of force required to stamp a part of its finished product. The current production system involved delivering sheets of steel to the press operator in a bin, and the employee would place it in the press. By substituting a caster dolly for the bin, the material could be rolled directly to the press, eliminating the excessive manual handling.
  • Stacking planks of lumber on pallets was a tedious job for a worker who had to reach for planks and bend to place them on the pallet. The task was made easier by a device that would operate at the worker’s height and self level as planks were added to the pallet.

Look for Potential Manual Material Handling Problems
Finding creative solutions to material handling problems starts by observing your day-to-day work processes and work environment.

  • Look for situations where employees are constantly reaching, twisting or extending to move materials
  • Review your loss data to identify troublesome tasks that tend to result in overexertion claims
  • Let employees know that it is okay to alert you of any task they feel may be too strenuous

The NIOSH Manual Material Handling Checklist is a valuable tool to help quickly identify potential problem jobs. This list considers factors such as weights of loads, distances between loads and the body, maneuverability and ease of grasping objects.

Start With Engineering Controls 
The following list includes some of the many cost-effective tools that can make tasks less stressful for workers:

  • Scissor lifts to raise or lower the load, making it easier for employees to load or unload materials
  • Rotating work turntables to move the work to the employee rather than having the employee constantly moving to the work
  • Step stools or platforms to raise the workers so they can comfortably grasp materials without excessive reaching
  • Extra handles on heavy containers to provide better grip and control
  • Drum dollies, carts or hand trucks to make it easier to move heavier and/or cumbersome loads from place to place
  • Portable hoists and cranes are ideal for moving heavy loads over short distances

Consider Administrative Controls
If you can’t engineer out the hazard, limit the amount of time workers spend on a task. This can easily be accomplished by:

  • Alternating work tasks between strenuous and less strenuous tasks
  • Making adjustments in the work schedule or work pace
  • Providing workers with sufficient breaks to recover from repetitive work positions
  • Rotating workers through various task that use different muscles and postures

Another administrative control is training. Small group discussions, problem-solving sessions and hands-on practice can help workers understand how to do their jobs without causing excessive stress to their bodies. It’s also an opportunity for employees to offer their suggestions for solving the problem.

Dan Zeiler

dan@zeiler.com

708.597.5900 x134

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Three Strategies to Prevent Dehydration in the Workplace

If you want to learn how to keep your employees safe when working in summer heat, take a tip from the website Desert Survivors: “The most critical elements to consider for survival in the desert are water and temperature. If you have plenty of water and can avoid being exposed to extremes of hot and cold, your chances of survival are quite good.”

Although your employees might not be trekking through a desert, they may be exposed to hazardous conditions if they work outside in the heat. Those conditions can easily result in dehydration. The more dehydrated a worker becomes, the more likely he or she is to suffer heat exhaustion or stroke.

Prepare Workers for Summer Heat 
Take the necessary steps to help all workers acclimate to the heat, particularly if the weather turns hot suddenly. 

  • Gradually increase workloads and allow more frequent breaks during the first week of outdoor summer work.
  • Closely supervise new employees for the first 14 days until they are fully acclimated to weather conditions.
  • Permit only those workers acclimated to heat to perform the more strenuous tasks and rotate physically demanding job tasks among acclimated workers.

Combine Access to Water and Breaks to Combat Dehydration 
Access to plenty of water and avoiding continued exposure to extreme heat is your best defense against dehydration. 

  • Provide plenty of cool drinking water and disposable cups in convenient, visible locations close to the work area.
  • Actively encourage workers to drink small amounts of water often—four cups of water every hour while the heat index is 103 to 115°F.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeinated drinks or liquids containing large amounts of sugar.
  • Establish and enforce work/rest schedules to control heat exposure and allow workers to recover. Provide air conditioned or shaded areas close to the work area for breaks. If you do not have access to shade or air conditioning, set up temporary shade.
  • Schedule heavy tasks earlier in the day or when the heat index is lower.
  • Permit only those workers acclimated to heat to perform the more strenuous tasks.
  • Provide workers with cooling measures such as water-dampened clothing, cooling vests or reflective clothing.

Include Hydration Awareness in Your Safety Training 
The more aware your workers and supervisors are about the dangers of dehydration, the more likely they are to spot a problem before it worsens. 

  • Schedule safety meetings throughout the summer (and the rest of the year) to remind workers how to avoid heat exhaustion.
  • Educate workers and supervisors how to identify the symptoms of dehydration. These include altered behavior; faintness that is not relieved by lying down; cold, clammy skin or hot, dry skin; and little or no urination.
  • Let workers know who to call for medical help.
  • Make sure workers know where water is located at the job site and how much to drink during the day.
  • Encourage workers to wear loose, lightweight and light-colored clothing 

If you have questions or would like more information, call any of our 3 locations in the Chicago-land area today. Our customer service representatives are eager to share their knowledge and speak with you about any insurance related topic. Zeiler Insurance is an independent insurance agent and has been providing quality customer service for 101 years in our Alsip, Chicago, and Gurnee locations. Our goal is to help you understand insurance as well as provide you with the most competitive insurance rates in the industry. Whether you are a customer or just want more information, let us help you with our years of expertise in the insurance business.

Dan
dan@zeiler.com
708.597.5900 x134
 

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Common Questions About Prework Screenings

A properly designed post-offer prework screening program allows employers to determine whether or not their job candidates can perform the essential physical demands of the job. People are often confused by certain aspects of the prework screening process. EMC Industrial Hygienist Krista Scott answers some frequently asked questions she receives from clients about implementing prework screening programs.

What is a prework screening test? 
A prework screening test consists of a series of tasks designed to simulate the actual job. It is used to assess a worker’s ability to perform the physical demands of the job they have been hired for.

What is the main reason an employer would want to use prework screening in the workplace? 
The primary reason is to hire workers who can physically do the required tasks of the job.

Are there other benefits to using prework screening in the workplace? 
Yes. Other benefits to the organization may include:

  • Demonstrating fair hiring practices
  • Reducing the frequency and severity of work-related injuries
  • Improving work efficiency by placing the right worker in the right job
  • Increasing worker morale through participation in the prework screening process

 

Are there other uses for the prework screening test in the workplace? 
Yes. Using the same criteria developed for the prework screening test, the employer can confirm that an employee returning to work after an injury is fit for work.

Is prework screening legal? 
Yes, prework screening is legal when performed according to standards laid out by federal laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, guidelines from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and applicable state laws. EMC recommends that you have all prework screening programs reviewed by legal counsel who specializes in employment law prior to implementation.

How are jobs selected to be screened? 
Prework screenings are most effective for jobs with the most injuries. Review the physical demands of these jobs and see if there is a way to eliminate or substitute out any injury-causing hazards.

How is a job description developed? 
A functional job description is developed by collecting information about the physical demands of the job. This can be done by following EMC’s job description handbook, which walks you through the entire process.

What information will I receive from my physical therapist? 
Following each prework screening you should receive pass/fail results. You should also periodically receive information about the number of individuals screened and the total pass/fail rates. Use this information to see if your screening program is working or if there are any particular groups of people that are more likely to fail the test. If this is the case, you may need to see if there any ergonomic modifications or improvements you could make to the job.

If the job candidate has a noticeable condition that could create a risk of injury during the screening, what should be done? 
The job candidate should be asked to reschedule his/her testing until they have seen their regular physician about the condition. The testing should not resume until the physician provides written medical clearance to proceed with the prework screening. A time frame should be given to the job candidate within which they must provide the clearance information and reschedule the prework screening. The cost for seeing a physician is the job candidate’s responsibility.

Where should the prework screening take place? 
Depending on the type of tests selected, a prework screening may take place at the employer’s place of business, at a therapy/occupational medicine clinic or both.

Where can I find more information about prework screenings? 
Visit the prework screening section of EMC’s website for online training, safety program templates, tech sheets, a screening guide and other resources to help you implement an effective prework screening program for your organization.

If you have questions or would like more information, call any of our 3 locations in the Chicago-land area today. Our customer service representatives are eager to share their knowledge and speak with you about any insurance related topic. Zeiler Insurance is an independent insurance agent and has been providing quality customer service for 101 years in our Alsip, Chicago, and Gurnee locations. Our goal is to help you understand insurance as well as provide you with the most competitive insurance rates in the industry. Whether you are a customer or just want more information, let us help you with our years of expertise in the insurance business.

Karli
karli@zeiler.com
708.597.5900 x130

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How Prework Screening Can Help Reduce Workers' Compensation Claims

Look up the term “prework screening” and chances are you’ll find information about how drug testing, job history verification, criminal background checks and Social Security number traces can help protect your company from hiring questionable employees. But how can prework screenings help reduce workers’ compensation claims? The answer is simple–test prospective employees (who have accepted a conditional job offer) for their physical ability to do the jobs they will be assigned. It's important to do this as soon as possible, because umbrella liability doesn't apply here- so you could be at risk! 

Consider the experience of a policyholder in the automotive industry that was experiencing recurring injuries on its supply line. After instituting a prework screening program for physical abilities, they noticed a reduction in claims. Other companies EMC works with are benefitting from prework screening when hiring temporary workers and ensuring employees at recently acquired locations are right for the job. 

Six Steps to Effective Prework Screenings 

  1. Target the jobs to be tested—Review injury data (such as your injury records or your claims records) to identify problem jobs that should be screened first. Look for jobs affected by lost time from injuries such as musculoskeletal/back injuries, multiple injuries and trauma, and jobs where tasks include lifting and carrying, balancing, use of ladders, overhead reaching, repetitive motion and postutres, awkward postures or climbing.
  2. Analyze the physical demands—For the jobs targeted in step one, identify and measure the physical demands. EMC can help with this process or you can consult with the physical/occupational therapist who will design the test.
  3. Have the physical therapist develop the prework screening test features and pass/fail criteria.—Provide the job description with the physical demands outlined to the physical therapist. The therapist will then identify the prework screening test features and develop the actual performance tests. You should receive written documents from the therapist for your review.
  4. Establish procedures before testing begins (with the therapist)—Answer the following questions before you begin testing: 
    • Where will testing occur?
    • How will applicants be referred to this location?
    • What will happen if an applicant’s resting blood pressure and/or heart rate exceed safe levels for testing?
    • How will test-related injuries be handled?
    • How will pregnant or disabled applicants be tested?
    • How will the test results be handled?
    • How will the test failures be handled?
    • What information is to be shared with the employer?
  5. Test existing employees—To ensure that your prework criteria are as accurate as possible, test it on employees who already hold the jobs you have selected for prework screening. Use these results to correct any problems before job applicants are tested.
  6. Review outcome and follow-up data—You should receive periodic updates from your physical therapist on the pass/fail rates, the test items most frequently failed and any information regarding significant differences in fail rates based on gender, age or ethnic groups. Review this information to modify the testing process if necessary. Consider tracking your work-related injury costs before and after starting the prework screening program. This can help your organization decide whether or not to continue or expand the program. For more information on worker's compensation, please read here: How to Report Workers' Comp Claims.

 

Hiring Considerations for Prework Screening Providers 
Retaining the services of a qualified prework screening provider is the most costly element of your prework training program. It is also one of the most crucial element for an effective program. When selecting a screening provider, convenience will certainly be a factor, but it shouldn’t be the only factor. You should pick a provider who: 

  • Is properly trained and experienced in administering prework screening and exam design methods
  • Understands the workers’ compensation system
  • Is a timely and skilled communicator
  • Is in close proximity to your job site(s)
  • Has demonstrated experience in both occupational and non-occupational therapy treatment
Some questions you should ask the screening provider include:
  • Do you have experience in conducting prework screening exams and functional job analyses? You may ask for written examples.
  • Are you knowledgeable about how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission legally influence the appropriate administration of prework screening exams? For more information about ADA visit www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/preemp.html.
  • Are you willing to visit our workplace to observe, review, confirm and identify the essential job tasks and the related physical demands of those tasks in preparation for designing reliable test procedures?
  • Can you provide screening exams at multiple locations if needed?
  • What test orientation materials do you provide to the job candidates before undergoing a prework screen? You may ask for written examples.
  • Are you prepared to offer test accommodations to job candidates if needed/requested?
  • Have you accommodated a job candidate during a prework test? If so, please cite examples of accommodations you have made.
  • How do you communicate the results of the prework screen?
  • What is the cost to develop both the exam criteria and administration of each prework screening test? What is the cost to complete functional job descriptions? What is the estimated time to conduct the exam?
  • Describe your testing methods and reporting format (make sure these methods are compatible with the needs of your organization).
  • Do you have written medical standards and criteria defining when to start and stop a test for safety reasons related to the job candidate? Can you provide a copy of these?
  • How do you handle a potential injury during testing? Cite examples.

If you have questions or would like more information, call any of our 3 locations in the Chicago-land area today. Our customer service representatives are eager to share their knowledge and speak with you about any insurance related topic. Zeiler Insurance is an independent insurance agent and has been providing quality customer service for 101 years in our Alsip, Chicago, and Gurnee locations. Our goal is to help you understand insurance as well as provide you with the most competitive insurance rates in the industry. Whether you are a customer or just want more information, let us help you with our years of expertise in the insurance business.

Dan
dan@zeiler.com
708.597.5900 x134

 

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Don't Let Poor Workplace Environment Quality Make Your Employees Sick

Don't Let Poor Workplace Environment Quality Make Your Employees Sick

Workplace conditions have a substantial impact on employee performance. By workplace conditions, we aren't just referring to an employee having the opportunity to advance, being recognized for a job well done, or salary or benefit offerings. Believe it or not, the quality of the air in the workplace has just a substantial impact as all of the above. Most have already heard the term sick building syndrome (SBS) being used to describe situations where occupants of a particular building experience health and comfort effects from spending time in the building. However, employers have just recently begun to realize the extent to which a sick building can effect employee output.

What Causes Air Quality Problems In The Work Environment?

Every environment has a unique combination of external and internal factors. So, what causes problems in your neighboring business isn't necessarily what's causing problems in your business. Knowing this, each environment must be evaluated to determine what combination of factors are present in any particular building.

One factor that's received a great deal of attention from the media lately is chemical contaminants. The consequences of chemical contaminants are sometimes fatal. This type of contaminant enters the air one of two ways - off gassing occurring from the internal operation of equipment or machinery or from the contaminants found in chemical products like pesticides and fertilizers being blown inside the building. In either case, these contaminants are likely to accumulate in the environment and cause health effects if there isn't an adequate supply of circulating fresh air.

Contaminants caused by fungi, mold, or bacteria are also concerns. Building fungi and bacteria are often the result of carelessness and are usually discovered during routine site inspections. If the environment is hospitable, fungi and bacteria begin to grow very quickly. They are commonly found in places like a wastebasket containing food, a poorly or infrequently cleaned coffeepot, or filthy staff break room. All of these sites of contamination can quickly add up and become a major problem. On the other hand, mold is an all together different issue. It's more often uncovered through a professional inspection and requires professional removal. These issues affect employers workers compensation and must be taken seriously.

The detrimental effects of poor air quality can spread rapidly. Resolutions should be initiated immediately after the source of contamination is identified. Here is some information on workplace conditions:  Understanding Workplace Injuries, Illnesses and Saftey Hazards.

Of course, it's best to prevent the contaminants from becoming an issue in the first place. According to The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, the following steps can be helpful to maintain good air quality in your building:

1. While the HVAC isn't running, the condensation pan should be inspected and cleaned of debris. A solution of one to five percent sodium hydrochloride can be used to sanitize the condensation pan. Rinse the pan with clear water.

2. Some HVAC units with rooftop outdoor air intakes may need to have a bird screen installed. The installer of your unit can usually tell you if this is a necessary step. If so, it should be inspected monthly.

3. Make sure that all rooftop exhaust fans are within operational guidelines. If not, they should be immediately replaced or repaired.

4. Since a leaky air filter can decrease the effectiveness of the filter, it should always fit tightly within its rack and not have any open spaces or gaps.

5. Routinely inspect intake air vents. Negative pressure may occur if the exhaust fans are operational and the air vents are blocked. This can cause the HVAC system to become imbalanced and produce moister untempered air. The end result is moisture control problems.

6. Routinely clean any accumulated dust from the fan coil unit and fiberglass liner. If the fiberglass liner has deteriorated, has turned black, or is otherwise soiled, then it should be replaced.

7. Prior to turning the HVAC system on, you should properly exhaust the building. Any warm and humid air that has accumulated during non-operational hours can condense when it's mixed with the cool air from the air conditioner. The added moisture from condensing might create a rain forest effect.

If you have questions or would like more information, call any of our 3 locations in the Chicago-land area today. Our customer service representatives are eager to share their knowledge and speak with you about any insurance related topic. Zeiler Insurance Services is an independent insurance agency and has been providing quality customer service for 101 years in our Alsip, Chicago, and Gurnee locations. Our goal is to help you understand insurance as well as provide you with the most competitive insurance rates in the industry. Whether you are a customer or just want more information, let us help you with our years of expertise in the insurance business.

Dan
dan@zeiler.com
708.597.5900 x134
http://www.zeiler.com

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How to Beat the Heat in the Workplace

Prevent Heat-Related Illness or Death in the Workplace

When employees face the challenge of working outdoors in the heat of summer, or even in intense indoor heat conditions, it is critical to have guidelines in place to prevent and manage heat-related illness. When temperatures soar, the body may not be able to cool itself enough through perspiring. When this happens, the temperature of the body can rise dramatically and lead to heat-related illness. Here are some tips to avoid heat illness: http://thez.zeiler.com/how-to-avoid-heat-illness

Working in the heat also can lower mental alertness, physical performance and increase emotional volatility, all of which can lead to a higher frequency of workplace accidents. Each year in the U.S., tens of workers die and hundreds of others experience heat-related occupational injuries and illnesses requiring days off work. This can lead to increased Workers Compensation rates. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends that companies take the following effective preventive steps to protect employees from the hazards of working in the heat:

  • Train all workers to recognize the signs of heat stress, which include headache, dizziness, nausea, irritability and confusion, and vomiting and muscle aches or cramps.  Workers should also be trained to administer appropriate first aid when heat related illness is suspected.  Supervisors should have special training to detect the early warning signs, and have the authority to allow workers to break from their work if they are becoming uncomfortable in the heat.
  • Supervisors should be aware of the physical condition of each employee, and understand if they are fit to work in extreme temperature conditions. Obesity, pregnancy, certain medications, advanced age and lack of conditioning are conditions that can put a worker at greater risk for a heat-related illness.
  • Since disorientation, confusion and even loss of consciousness are symptoms of some heat-related illnesses, work should be designed so that employees can work in pairs to look out for one another.
  • The body needs time to condition itself to new levels of heat intensity. Help your workers adapt to the heat by altering the workload, including extended rest periods for the first several days. If an employee returns from any kind of job absence, including a vacation, their body will again need time to be reconditioned.
  • Emphasize that employees should drink plenty of water, even if they do not feel thirsty. Remember that alcohol, coffee, tea and caffeinated sodas can actually dehydrate the body and should be avoided.
  • Workers should be encouraged to wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and to change their clothing if it becomes saturated.
  • Because good airflow helps cool the skin by increasing evaporation, use general ventilation and spot cooling during times of high heat production.
  • Alternate short work periods with rest periods in a cooler area and schedule heavy work for cooler times of the day.
  • On an hourly basis, monitor temperatures, humidity and your workers' responses to heat.

OSHA has created a free, fold-up laminated card with information and tips related to heat stress. The OSHA Heat Stress Card is available in English and Spanish. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

If you have questions or would like more information, call any of our 3 locations in the Chicago-land area today. Our customer service representatives are eager to share their knowledge and speak with you about any insurance related topic. Zeiler Insurance Services is an independent insurance agency and has been providing quality customer service for 101 years in our Alsip, Chicago, and Gurnee locations. Our goal is to help you understand insurance as well as provide you with the most competitive insurance rates in the industry. Whether you are a customer or just want more information, let us help you with our years of expertise in the insurance business.

Dan
dan@zeiler.com
708.597.5900 x134
http://www.zeiler.com

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Hazards of the Modern Office

The days of going to work, sitting down in a cubicle, and staring at a desktop computer for eight hours are becoming a thing of the past. Cubicles still exist, but are being phased out for open-air concepts with little visual obstructions. An example can be a tech startup moving into an old warehouse and utilizing all of the open space. Of course, technology makes most of this change possible with the emergence of powerful laptop computing and the versatility of tablets. Mobile technology, modern work environments, and other changes in workplace behaviors introduce new workplace risk exposures that have not been a problem in the past. These risk exposures can lead to unforeseen costly workers compensation claims, and it is important for businesses to recognize these risks and protect themselves to the best of their ability.

As workplace environments become modern, some of the new additions can pose new risks.

1. There are new ways emerging for employees to blow off steam at work that introduce new risks. Lounges with activities such as table tennis or foosball tables can cause injury. Stationary bikes in the conference room are relatively new as well. Treadmill desks present an inherent hazard, but are becoming popular because of how they stimulate employees.

2. Spending hours reading smartphones and tablets have been proven to cause pain to the neck and spine. Employees in the 1980’s did not have to worry about these specific risks that can adversely affect performance.

3. An emerging trend with mobile technology is the ability to work from home or other locations not in the office. Anything can happen to an employee in these situations, as well as cybersecurity concerns that can arise. When employees aren’t working from the office, the uncertainty of potential risk exposures should worry employers.

4. Some offices have introduced pet-friendly policies. This seems to be a harmless move, but can have negative results. There is always the possibility that the animal causes an injury or creates allergic reactions for employees. They can even cause emotional problems, because believe it or not, not everyone is a dog or cat person.

5. With mobile technology readily available, employers expect employees to work beyond typical work hours. This can cause physical health risks such as loss of sleep, as well as emotional health risks from the pressure of expectations.

6. Sitting still all the time has been linked to high blood pressure, bad cholesterol and obesity. The way we sit, stand, bend, push, pull or lift all have a direct impact on employee health and well-being in the workplace, which in turn, affects your business.

Lugging the minimum daily adult requirement of gym gear, laptops and lunch stuff can be a pain in the neck (also shoulders, back, maybe even knees). Here are a few tips to help prevent aches and injuries.

DOs

* Take a hard look at your daily haul. A heavy tote can mess with your craniovertebral junction, aka the neck, as well as the curvature at the small of your back.

* Use two straps rather than one. If both shoulders can share the weight, you can minimize your risk of injury. If you must use a single strap bag, wear it cross-body style to minimize pressure on your muscles, nerves and joints.

* Carry your bag close to the body. Doing so will minimize the stress on your spine.

DON'Ts

* Don't carry more than 25 pounds in a single bag. Each additional pound you carry adds three additional pounds of pressure to your joints.

* Don't stuff your bag haphazardly. Place heavier items toward the bottom and distribute the rest of the load evenly.

* Don't cling to painful habits. If you love your leather tote too much to give it up, simply lighten its load and consign the rest to a rolling laptop bag.

Travelers Insurance has some examples of the changes in workplace risk.

If you have questions or would like more information, call any of our 3 locations in the Chicago-land area today. Our customer service representatives are eager to share their knowledge and speak with you about any insurance related topic. Zeiler Insurance is an independent insurance agency and has been providing quality customer service for 101 years in our Alsip, Chicago, and Gurnee locations. Our goal is to help you understand insurance as well as provide you with the most competitive insurance rates in the industry. Whether you are a customer or just want more information, let us help you with our years of expertise in the insurance business.

Dan
dan@zeiler.com
708.597.5900 x134
www.zeiler.com

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Experience Modification Looks Complicated, But It Isn't

 

Experience modification (experience mod) is a key factor when monitoring workers compensation premiums. Experience mod is a rating factor that determines your workers compensation premium based on loss experience. A 1.0 rating means expected losses equal actual losses that occur. A rating below 1.0 indicates that actual losses occurred are less than expected losses, resulting in a lower premium. A rating above 1.0 means actual losses are higher than expected losses, resulting in a higher premium. In short, your experience mod compares your workers compensation claims to companies of similar size and industry.  

Experience mod ratings are calculated based on certain components. One component is the payroll for the business. Workers compensation claims are highly dependent on payroll numbers being accurate, therefore payroll figures are often audited. A second component is the loss history of the business. The loss history can be determined from analyzing claim data that has been filed. When calculating the premium for the policy, items such as the frequency of claims are essential to provide an accurate premium. It gives an insight as to how the business operates and if there are trends regarding workers compensation claims. The last component is reserves used for claims. Claim data provides information to help compute payments, and reserves are required for claim totals. Reserves are assigned to open claims and represent future payouts. Claim adjusters often handle large amounts of claims, so it is imperative to have open claims reviewed for accuracy to avoid the formulation of the experience mod can become incorrect.  

In the real world injuries will happen, but the response can help keep your experience modification rate from increasing. Having a plan to manage injuries and workers compensation claims is imperative for getting control. An effective safety program that eliminates hazards is the starting point. Also, your experience mod is influenced more by small, frequent losses rather than large infrequent ones. Implementing a Return to Work Program is important for any business. Having a program in place will help lower days off which in turn will keep your experience mod down. For example, if an employee sprains their ankle, what can you do to decrease their days off? Can they input data while sitting at a computer or maybe help out somewhere else? Read our article  Illinois Workers Compensation Insurance - Keep Your Premiums Low  to learn more.

If you have questions or would like more information, call any of our 3 locations in the Chicago-land area today. Our customer service representatives are eager to share their knowledge and speak with you about any insurance related topic. Zeiler Insurance is an independent insurance agency and has been providing quality customer service for 101 years in our Alsip, Chicago, and Gurnee locations. Our goal is to help you understand insurance as well as provide you with the most competitive insurance rates in the industry. Whether you are a customer or just want more information, let us help you with our years of expertise in the insurance business.

Dan
dan@zeiler.com
708.597.5900 x134
http://www.zeiler.com

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How Workers Comp Experience Rating Can Save You Money

How does safety pay dividends to the business owner? Time and resources spent on developing a culture of safety repays the business in the long run. Safety cultures rely on reducing the number of workers compensation claims, in return, the odds of a disastrous claim are reduced.

Business owners with workers compensation experience modification above 1.25 need to review their safety policies with professionals. It is possible one year or even one claim causes this situation; but it should not be ignored. Discover and repair the root cause.

A 1.01 to 1.25 modification indicates worse than average experience. State rates can be less than adequate for a short period of time. The actuarial or mathematical calculations just incorrectly reflect the average expected claims. Slightly elevated modifications may be caused by these issues; however, review your losses by department in these cases and see if a problem area exists.

For slightly elevated modifications, review the safety program and types of losses. Seek out a professional risk manager for help if needed. Look for patterns in the losses, and consider changes in safety equipment or procedures to reduce problem issues.

Proactively nurturing a safety culture will pay long-term dividends. Experience modifications will decrease with positive results. How?

Each state calculates workers compensation experience modifications independently. Many states do utilize the services of the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) to gather data and promulgate base rates and experience modifications; but each state regulates its own workers compensation system such as Illinois workers compensation. 

Workers compensation experience rating predicts future behavior by analyzing past performance. It is a consequence of loss control performance, neither a reward for no losses nor a punishment for too many claims.

The generic formula for experience modifications follows some rules:

Just as payrolls are the basis for the standard premium, they form the basis for expected claims. Payroll is multiplied by an average claim factor to produce total expected claims.A discount factor is then applied to predict the potential severity of the claims.The product of this equation is expected losses.Actual medical only (MO) claims combine and report as a number of claims/total amount. Some states designate the MO claims as primary (maximum average) and excess, and then apply a discount rate to one or both of these amounts.Most states set a limit on the value of any one claim, and then discount large claims on a sliding scale.This historical claim experience is divided by expected losses. That quotient is the experience modification.

The insurance industry spends millions of dollars to find ways to predict the future. Loss analysts discovered one important fact: the best predictor of future claims is the frequency with which companies suffer losses in the past.

Frequency reflects the number of claims per employee, usually expressed as claims per payroll unit ($100), claims per year, or claims per time unit. Frequency, however, more importantly, reflects the safety culture of the business.

If the frequency of claims is predictable, how about the severity of an individual loss? No, severity, the magnitude of the loss, is not predictable. With greater frequency, however, comes greater odds that a severe claim will occur. For more information on controlling costs, read Employers: Control Your Workers' Comp Costs.

Experience modifications indicate the status of the safety culture within a business. Good management listens to risk management and loss control experts who ultimately reduce workers' compensation costs and possibly the workers compensation premium. 

If you have questions or would like more information, call any of our 3 locations in the Chicago-land area today. Our customer service representatives are eager to share their knowledge and speak with you about any insurance related topic. Zeiler Insurance is an independent insurance agent and has been providing quality customer service for 101 years in our Alsip, Chicago, and Gurnee locations. Our goal is to help you understand insurance as well as provide you with the most competitive insurance rates in the industry. Whether you are a customer or just want more information, let us help you with our years of expertise in the insurance business.

Dan
dan@zeiler.com
708.597.5900 x134
www.zeiler.com

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When is a Workers’ Compensation Claim Compensable?

When is a Workers’ Compensation Claim Compensable?

Carefully evaluating workers’ compensation claims is crucial in helping your company save money and prevent fraud. Workers’ compensation is simply a form of insurance that offers employees medical coverage in the event they are injured during a work-related function. Depending on the state of residence, it may also give compensation for disabilities sustained or cover rehabilitation costs so the employee can return to the workplace quickly and smoothly.

Workers’ compensation is crucial to protecting employees, but it is often a source of contention among employers because it comes with considerable gray areas. When is a claim compensable? How do we identify a fraudulent claim? How do we report a claim, and should we report all workplace injuries no matter how serious? This is provided by Zeiler Insurance Services, Inc.to help you determine when—and if—an injury is covered by workers’ compensation.

Requirements

The claim must meet all five of these requirements in order to be compensable. Let’s examine each individually:

Happened to One of Your Employees

The first requirement is in place to ensure it is your employee filing the claim, not an independent contractor or vendor who works for themselves or a third party. Even if the incident occurs on your property, unless it is someone who works directly for you, the claim is not compensable.

Resulted in an Injury or Illness

Injury is not the only thing that can potentially be covered by workers’ compensation. Illnesses could also qualify as a compensable claim, but only if they are related directly to the job. The illness also must be caused directly by the working conditions to be covered in a workers’ compensation policy. For example, a miner’s contraction of black lung would be compensable in all states. However, an employee in an office with a co-worker who smokes would not be eligible for workers’ compensation for treatment of illness due to secondhand smoke.

Arose Out of Employment

This requirement means there must be a direct connection between the injury and the desire or attempt to further the employer’s business. If the employer benefits in some way, whether monetarily or otherwise, from the employee’s activity, then the claim meets this qualification.

Occurred in the Course and Scope of Employment

The employee must be at work when the injury occurs. This includes any place or location mandated or expected by the employer. So when an injury occurs at the employee’s physical everyday work site, that employee must prove he or she was injured while actively engaging in the furtherance of the employer’s business. There is a special provision called the “coming and going rule,” which maintains that benefits are denied for injuries received when traveling to or from work. Additionally, injuries arising out of transit from one work site to another, for instance when traveling to visit clients, are compensable. This provision also requires that the actions leading to the injury of the employee in question be prompted by the aspiration to further the employer’s business interests.

Resulted in Impairment and/or Lost Wages

The injury or illness in question must cause the employee to be impaired in some way and lose wages from not being able to complete his or her tasks completely. It is also a compensable incident if the injury or illness results in impairment but without lost wages, or vice versa.

Identifying a Fraudulent Claim

Studies commonly show that roughly 90 percent of all workers’ compensation claims filed are legitimate. However, it is still important as an employer to watch for these red flags that may indicate a fraudulent claim:

  • Filing multiple claims
  • Longer absences than anticipated by the employee, combined with an unwillingness to return to work
  • Unwillingness to be assigned to other, lighter jobs within the company or to complete partial duties
  • Constantly missing medical appointments
  • Employee will not provide date, time or location of the incident that caused injury
  • Employee has no recollection of services provided for related medical bills
  • Lack of witnesses to an accident or incident
  • Employee cannot produce specific information about the nature of the injury
  • Employee has a history of short-term employment

If any of these red flags occur, it by no means makes the claim automatically fraudulent – these are simply guidelines to keep employers proactively evaluating the legitimacy of a workers’ compensation claim.

For more information on Illinois Workers Compensation Insurance and Illinois Employee Benefits visit: Workers Compensation Insurance Chicago Illinois

If you have questions or concerns on this issue, do not hesitate to call Zeiler Insurance and speak to one of our customer service representatives. As an independent agency, Zeiler Insurance prides itself with quality customer service for the people of the Chicago-land area and the rest of the Midwest. Customer or not, we can review your insurance and see if you are being protected appropriately for the right price.

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When An Employee Refuses Work Comp Treatment

Based on the geographic location of your business, many state workers’ compensation statutes limit and mandate certain employer actions when a worker is injured. Depending on the state, there are specific timelines to follow and forms to complete. But what about when a worker is injured and refuses to accept treatment or file a claim? What are your responsibilities? While the exact legal answer depends on your situation and state laws, consider the following to limit your liability.

When You Notice

If you notice that an employee has been injured, even if the employee has not mentioned it, gently bring it up and discuss the circumstances of the injury with the employee to determine whether the injury is job-related. Many state workers’ compensation statutes obligate employers to report injuries as soon as they have knowledge of them. Delay in reporting the injury could result in much more costly claims. Completing the paperwork to report injuries is not an admission of your liability—on the contrary, it could protect you.  

In the Case of Refusal

When you do discuss the injury with the employee, explain that reporting job-related injuries entitles injured workers to certain benefits while recovering from the injury. If the employee does not wish to file a claim for the injury, file the employer’s portion of the report with a statement of refusal to pursue a claim signed by the employee. It is crucial that you document this conversation to protect your organization from being penalized in the future.

Employees that do initially report injuries but then refuse treatment under the physician or facility that your organization furnishes should sign a similar form confirming this refusal.

Benefits for Employees that Refuse Treatment

State workers’ comp statutes vary, but in most cases, workers’ compensation benefits are suspended for employees that refuse to comply with any reasonable request for examination or refuse to accept medical service or physical rehabilitation which the employer elects to furnish. Benefits may not be payable for this period of refusal of treatment—check with your workers’ comp carrier.

What to Do Now

It is important that you prepare for an eventual employee refusal to submit a claim or refusal to accept treatment for a workplace injury. All employers should have a legal representative draft a form for refusal of treatment that complies with state requirements so it is immediately available when needed. Discuss with supervisors the importance of documenting and reporting all injuries, whether or not the worker chooses to report them.

Workers’ compensation insurance is obligatory in most states. Contact the insurance professionals at Zeiler Insurance Services for more information.

Similar Articles: Workers Compensation Insurance Chicago Illinois

If you have questions or concerns on this issue, do not hesitate to call Zeiler Insurance and speak to one of our customer service representatives. As an independent agency, Zeiler Insurance prides itself with quality customer service for the people of the Chicago-land area and the rest of the Midwest. Customer or not, we can review your insurance and see if you are being protected appropriately for the right price.

Dan
dan@zeiler.com
708.597.5900 x134

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Why “Bidding” Your Insurance is the Worst Thing You Can Do.

 

In the insurance industry, “quoting” is the term used to describe an insurance agent who contacts his carriers on the customer’s behalf to see which company is most competitively priced. The Landscape Industry and other Contractor Industries refer to this as “bidding” and the reason is obvious.

When meeting with landscape contractors it is not uncommon that we will discuss how they go about bidding on a given project. I often hear how some projects are lost to those “fly-by-night” companies that are very cheap and illegitimate. The homeowner in this case does not care - just wants the lowest price at that time and then spends twice the amount 2 years later when their patio caves in.  Yes price is important, but how do you explain quality to a homeowner? How do you educate the homeowner? There’s more to building a patio than the number at the bottom of the proposal.

99% of Landscape Contractors can relate to this – but the funny thing is, when it’s time to look at insurance options. BOOM it’s “Bidding” time! “Here’s my information, please find the lowest price, if you need anything call Sandy, and she will get the information for you.”

Whether you are a Landscape Contractor trying to sell the quality of your work or an insurance agent trying to gain a new client – the same problems exist. The buyer is looking at price and does not take the time to be educated. When that homeowner moves away from the buying process and actually takes the time to educate themselves, their Landscaping Decision becomes much more sophisticated, they are likely focus more on quality, and more often than not they will save money in the long run.

The same situation is applicable in the insurance world. There are many contractors and EVEN OTHER AGENTS that do not understand the intricacies that affect insurance premiums. When a contractor takes the time to educate themselves, a couple things happen:

1. They will make a better decision.

2. They will save more money in the long run.

3. Their expenses go down, they become more competitive, and the success of their company grows.

These things do not happen when you “BID” your insurance. Maybe you get a lower price that year, but how does that stop your organization from leaking money year after year? Yes, when the season is rocking and rolling there is zero time to be educated about insurance, but don’t be like that cheap homeowner. Find the slow season, and invest the time with an insurance professional to make an educated decision regarding your insurance program. The alternative is a “caved – in” insurance program, and wasted money out the door. If a homeowner can learn something about building a patio that other contractors don’t understand then it is possible that contractors can learn something that their agent doesn't understand.

To learn more ways in which many Contractors may be “leaking” money year after year. Click Here   

 

 

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Top 10 Costly OSHA Violations for Landscapers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) keeps records not only of the most frequently cited standards overall, but also within particular industries. The most recent statistics from OSHA reveal the top standards cited in the fiscal year 2014 for the landscaping industry. This top 10 list comprises establishments that primarily provide landscape care and arborist and maintenance services such as installing trees, shrubs, plants, lawns or gardens and also establishments that provide these services along with the design of landscape plans and/or the construction of walkways, retaining walls, decks, fences, ponds and similar structures.

 

Description of Violation

 

Cited Standard Number


 

  Average   Cost Per  Violation*

 

General Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Requirements - Selecting the correct PPE, providing instruction, monitoring its use and maintaining the PPE to standards.

 

  29 CFR  1910.132         $997

Hazard Communication - Properly transmitting information on chemical hazards through a comprehensive program, container labeling, SDS and training.

 

  29 CFR 1910.1200         $384

Vehicle-mounted Elevating and Rotating Work Platforms - Ensuring the safe usage and design of powered platforms, manlifts and vehicle-mounted work platforms.

 

 29 CFR 1910.67      $3,064

Eye and Face Protection - General requirements for eye and face protection in the workplace.

 

  29 CFR 1910.133      $1,245

General Duty Clause - Ensuring that place of employment is free of recognized hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.

 

5A0001      $2,625

Head Protection - Providing employees with head protection that meets ANSI specifications when they work in areas where there is a possible threat of head injury.

 

 29 CFR 1910.135      $1,146

Selection and Use of Work Practices - Selecting the proper practices to prevent electric shock or other injuries resulting from either direct or indirect electrical contacts when work is performed near or on equipment or circuits which are or may be energized.

 

  29 CFR  1910.132      $2,257

Respiratory Protection - Properly administering a respiratory protection program, selecting correct respirators, completing medical evaluations to determine which employees are required to use respirators and providing tight-fitting equipment.

 

  29 CFR  1910.134      $654

Guarding Floor and Wall Openings and Holes - Ensuring every stairway floor opening has proper railings and other protection.

 

 29 CFR 1910.23      $1,466

Crawler Locomotive and Truck Cranes – Proper use of cranes to hoist and swing loads. 

 

  29 CFR    1910.180      $1,250

*The dollar amount represents the average cost per violation that employers in this industry paid in 2014. To understand the full capacity and scope of each standard, visit www.osha.gov and view the language in its entirety. Source: OSHA.gov 

Related Articles: Safety Training May Prevent Costly OSHA Citations

See more by: Clicking Here.

If you have questions or concerns on this issue, do not hesitate to call Zeiler Insurance and speak to one of our customer service representatives. As an independent agency, Zeiler Insurance prides itself with quality customer service for the people of the Chicago-land area and the rest of the Midwest. Customer or not, we can review your insurance and see if you are being protected appropriately for the right price.

Dan
dan@zeiler.com
708.597.5900 x134
www.zeiler.com

 

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