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Is Perfume Sensitivity a Work Comp Concern?

Second hand smoke kills. But what about second hand perfume? Do you have an employee that you know has clocked in because of the cologne or perfume trail leading to their cubicle?  In 2003, there was a disability discrimination claim filed by an employee with perfume sensitivity. The case was eventually dismissed, but only because the employer made reasonable accommodations to help the employee with her situation.

Strong perfume may be easy enough to ignore for many, but some people can experience sneezing frenzies, asthma symptoms, watery eyes, and other allergy symptoms. For most, the symptoms subside when the odor is no longer present, but for some, being exposed over and over leads to sensitivity for longer periods of time even after the scent is gone.

Now, at home those pesky smells are easily gotten rid of. The magazine insert is easily thrown away, maybe the soaps and candles are fragrance free, but at work it is difficult. Employers can help in many ways to make the environment a little easier to breathe in just by doing a few of the following:

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Prescription Drugs: Legal and Lethal

If you are at home watching television during prime time, how many prescription drug commercials do you see in one sitting? One, two, even five will sometimes cross the airwaves in one hour. The concern becomes, if there are so many commercials for these medications, who are the people taking them? Chances are that your employees have seen those prescription commercials and could be tempted to contact their doctor for a prescription. Although it is good for your employees to communicate with their physicians, they could potentially be at risk of abusing prescription medications.

Most of these commercials are for things like cholesterol, diabetes, and osteoporosis – but what about the prescriptions that aren’t advertised like Vicodin, Oxycontin, or Percodan? These medications work by blocking pain perception, and are prescribed for acute pain, chronic pain, or pain following surgery.

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Manage Hiring Risks in an Economic Downturn

The current economic turmoil brings challenges to businesses, beyond decreased sales and restrictive credit requirements. While businesses are struggling to secure credit lines and doggedly watching their accounts receivable, individuals are fighting to make ends meet as well. With companies downsizing and making adjustments, for what may be a long recovery, many people are finding themselves looking for jobs. Employers must be very wary when hiring employees, especially in a down economy.

Tough economic times have been shown to correlate with increased violent crime and increased drug abuse. Not surprisingly, these two social ills are often related. At no other time is it more important to conduct pre-employment and post-injury drug screens than during down economic cycles. Poor personal decisions by the individual need not translate into poor personnel decisions for the employer, if a smart drug screening program is in place.

Drug screening technology now allows instant results, without the need for a urine specimen. Many tests do not require collection in a clinical setting or by clinical personnel. With such quick and convenient methodologies, employers have an excellent opportunity to avoid the dangers of workplace drug abuse.

Proof:Positive can implement a drug screening program for your organization, now. Contact Proof:Positive to help manage the increasing risks of violence and drug abuse in the current economic climate.

Can I Fire an Injured Employee?

An employee hurts themselves at work resulting in a worker’s compensation arrangement. You have multiple write ups for this individual, but now they are at home. Have you been unable to contact the individual? Is this employee’s position at the job site now on hold? Were you already planning to fire him before the injury occurred? If any of these questions sound familiar you may want to ask, “Can I fire this employee even though they have filed a worker’s compensation claim?” The answer may be YES.

However…proof of business necessity needs to be established. Factors to determine business necessity include (source: reish.com): More…

Crutches, Canes and Walkers – Are They Being Used Correctly?

Do you have employees that are injured and require one of these aids to get around? Have you ever tried to walk using crutches or a walker? It is really not all that easy to get used to. Many people use these aids improperly and are risking further injury to themselves.

I spent many years working in an ER and found that most people are not able to get up and use crutches or walkers on their first try. I can recall spending quite a bit of time with patients, teaching them the proper way to use these aids. Having your injured employees understand how to use these aids is crucial to their recovery, and even for possible prevention of further injury.

Crutches, walkers, and even canes help your legs heal by bearing the weight you would normally put on your legs. However, the benefits can only be realized if the devices are used properly. Crutches that are too long can press on the nerves in your underarms, causing tingling, numbness and/or loss of muscle strength. Crutches, walkers, and canes that are too short, or mismatched, can cause back pain and falls.

In Health and Wellness Rooms, injured employees are taught, among other things, how to properly use their walking aids. Through guidance and self studies, an employee can learn the proper way to use these aids and help prevent the prolonging of their recovery. Knowledge helps create confidence that can help them when taking those steps towards recovery and returning to work. An added benefit: when employees feel that their employer has their best interest in mind, they are more inclined to return to work.

Don’t Let your Employees Return to Work ‘Broken’

When an employee gets hurt on the job and goes on Worker’s Comp, they usually just end up sitting at home all day long waiting for their injury to heal so that they can go back to work. In most cases, the employee’s regular job is a very physically demanding one that keeps them fairly healthy. But when they get injured, their job becomes a far more sedentary one. This sudden shift to a sedentary lifestyle can be detrimental to their body and overall health, including a wide spectrum of different types of diseases and disorders affecting all parts of the body. Some of the risks can be increased by as much as 50% or more.

A few examples of these risks include:

  • Musculoskeletal Disorders: Low Back Pain, Osteoarthritis, Bone Fractures, Connective Tissue Tears, Osteoporosis
  • Cardiovascular Disorders: Hypertension (High Blood Pressure), Congestive heart Failure, Atherosclerosis (Hardening of Arteries), Coronary Heart Disease, Hypercholesterolemia (High Cholesterol), Cardiomyopathy (any disease affecting structure and function of heart)
  • Metabolic Disorders: Overweight, Obesity, Diabetes
  • Cancer: Breast, Colon, Lung, Prostate
  • Pulmonary Diseases: Emphysema, Asthma, Chronic Bronchitis
  • Psychological Disorders: Depression, Mood, Anxiety

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The Rights Tools and Education Can Help You Save!

Do your employees have the right tools for the job? Are their tools ergonomic, do they fit right, and are they the right ones for the specific task they are performing? Some research suggests that the improper use of tools at work can cause musculoskeletal disorders. This can lead to lost time at work and costly worker compensation claims. Implementing a program to prevent these injuries is extremely important. Larger companies realize the need for safety programs and so should smaller businesses. Work related injuries for big or small companies can severely damage your profits.

Tools are marketed in many different ways. Some say ergonomic and some say ‘impact resistant’ or ‘lightweight.’ All of these descriptions sound beneficial! But what if the workers hand is too small for that handle, or because it is so lightweight it really does not do the job effectively? When the tool fits, or is the right tool for the job, there is less risk of injury or repetitive injuries to your employees. When tools get used improperly, a whole list of risks pops up. Your employees may develop carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis or muscle strain.

Here are some considerations from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to help you select tools that are ergonomically correct for the employee and the job:

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Is Football Contributing to Work Comp Fraud?

What better thing to do on a Sunday than have a BBQ at home, watch some football, and then maybe go and toss the ball around. Going in for that interception! Tackle!

Did you know that work comp fraud is rising, and faking that football injury as a Monday work related injury could cause your employee to go to jail and/or be fined?

California employers in the insurance industry, District Attorneys, and an anti-fraud campaign are all playing a very important role in protecting your premiums and trying to keep these crimes down. As an employer, it is so important to keep both eyes peeled when employee injuries come about immediately after a weekend.

Unfortunately, there are people out there looking for free ride and we encourage you, the employer, to pay special attention after a claim has been filed.

Did the employee report the injury right away? Can they remember all the details of the accident? Were there any  witnesses? Also watch for changes in their story, or if you find they are doing activities that are not consistent with their injury. Finding out that your “injured employee” finally finished that kitchen remodel is very suspicious. If your employees hurt themselves at work and want to get better, they will attend all the necessary appointments.  Missing appointments can sometimes be reason to suspect fraudulent activity.

All these activities do not mean they are being fraudulent, but as an employer you always need to be on your toes and protect yourself, and your business, against workers trying to make an extra buck on at your expense.

Get Your World Turning

Let’s get this straight you have employees that:

  1. Have a specific job goal
  2. Are willing to participate
  3. Have a deficit of their physical, emotional, functional, and occupational abilities
  4. Are at the point that a modified work program would not be prohibited

Are they at home collecting dust? Goodness, I hope not! Let’s get them in a modified program. Get them up, get them moving, and then put them into a work hardening program.  The Health and Wellness Rooms and Work Hardening Programs numbers do not lie, your employees will be up more than 50% faster than if they participated in self recovery at home. Not only that, but money makes the world go round, and it’s the hard workers that turn it for you. Research shows that having employees in a Wellness Program and/ or a Work Hardening Program drastically reduces costs to our inundated workers’ compensation system.

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Preventing and Rehabilitating Injuries in the Workplace

If you are like most people, you suffer an injury from time to time. No matter if it is as severe as a herniated disc, or as miniscule as a paper cut, it is still an inconvenience. Some minor injuries, like a paper cut, can simply be avoided by being a little bit more careful and maybe doing our work a little bit slower. While the same rule applies to preventing major injuries, they also require a little bit more work on our part.

The best ‘treatment’ for injuries is prevention. Good agility, technical skills, and cardiovascular and musculoskeletal fitness are important in injury prevention. In order to achieve all of these things, a multiphasic training regimen (training regimen consisting of multiple phases) should be used. A good multiphasic training program should include warming up and cooling down, the use of safe and familiar equipment, muscle strengthening exercises, cardiovascular exercises, and the training of neurophysiological functions (balance, coordination and reaction time). These are all essential in preventing injuries and they become increasingly important as you get older.

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