Greetings! Welcome to another edition of Health e-News, your source for timely workplace wellness tips, news and solutions. Today we're heading back to the basics of workplace safety. The articles to follow are packed with valuable information on keeping your employees safe, preventing and responding to injury, and protecting your investment in your workforce. As always, we welcome your feedback
On behalf of the entire team at Affinity Occupational Health, I'd like to thank you for inviting us into your workplace as your health and wellness partner. Please feel free to contact me any time, for any reason, at (920) 727-8710 or firstname.lastname@example.org
John Weinsheim, CMPE
|Why Office Ergonomics? |
In 2007, musculoskeletal disorders accounted for 29 percent of all workplace injuries requiring time away from work. You know the importance of ergonomics and protection in manual labor jobs. Heavy lifting, repetitive motion, dangerous environments... you address body mechanics to protect employees in these situations. But what about your office workers?
"Many employers mistakenly believe their office employees have it easy because they're sitting most of the day, but that's precisely the problem," says Mark Schmitz, physical therapist for Affinity Occupational Health. "Office functions such as sitting, talking on the phone, typing and spending long hours looking at a computer screen can put stress on muscles, joints, ligaments and other body parts. Without proper ergonomic attention, office employees put strain their musculoskeletal systems every day," Schmitz says.
According to the 2007 Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 10 percent of non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work occur in the following office-based jobs (median number of days away from work indicated in parentheses):
- management (5)
- business and financial operations (7)
- computer and mathematical positions (5)
- office and administrative support occupations (7).
So doesn't it make good business sense to tend to your office ergonomics? "Small adjustments can make a big impact on your employees' health," Schmitz says.
One study* showed employees' symptom growth throughout the workday was significantly lowered by providing a highly adjustable office chair and instruction on proper ergonomics. The chair also decreased office workers' average pain complaints and increased productivity.
According to Schmitz, "No matter how many office employees you have, paying attention to their ergonomic needs can help boost workplace wellness, employee satisfaction and ultimately the company's bottom line."
* Effect of Office Ergonomics Intervention on Reducing Musculoskeletal symptoms - Spine Vol. 28, number 24, pages 2706-2711
|Hot Off the Blog: Help Injured Employees Avoid Obstacles to Recovery|
Have you checked out Occ Doc in a Box, Dr. Brian Harrison's weekly blog? If not, here's a sample of what you're missing. For valuable, cost-effective tips on workplace wellness and safety, visit http://affinityocchealth.blogspot.com/
10 Ways Employers Can Help Injured Employees Avoid Obstacles to Recovery
1) Listen to employees when they have bodily complaints that they think are important. Don't brush them off.
2) Reassure employees that their aches and pains are legitimate, without always requiring them to first be "legitimized" by a doctor.
3) Give employees structured options for expressing frustrations, safety concerns, interpersonal differences, anxieties etc. besides filing a Worker Comp claim! Examples - safety committee, EAP, grievance mechanism.
4) Place workers in appropriate jobs, not into those in which they are destined to fail (example - demoting a senior employee to a heavy, entry level job he hasn't done since he was young).
5) After each Worker Comp appointment, ask the employee how her doctor or therapy visit went. Was she satisfied? Was a thorough evaluation done? Was the employee told what to expect about how things would go? Are next steps clear? If not, help the employee find out who to call to fix these things.
6) When your injured employee describes his treatment plan to you, have the following checklist in mind. If any of these areas seem neglected, partner with your Worker Comp insurer to solve the problem.
- Is the treatment plan as brief and straightforward as reasonable?
- Are needed tests or treatments being done in a timely manner? Are unnecessary delays solved or avoided?
- Is a single doctor in charge? Or is it confusing which doctor is the captain of the ship?
- Has the employee been told what to expect? Has he been coached on how long it takes most people to recover from this type of injury or surgery? Does he understand what results are expected from his treatment, and when?
- Is she allowed to remain close to her working life? Are appropriate accommodations being made so she can stay at work, and as close to her home department as able?
- Has he received understandable medical information about his injury? Does he know what the problem is? Has he been directed to appropriate information resources, such as web sites, books, and/or health educators?
7) Provide alternate work right away to accommodate the employee's restrictions, then be ready to begin a transition toward regular duty once it has been ok'ed.
8) Keep the employee involved with the company as time passes in the course of treatment. The employee should remain active in all dimensions of work life that he can still do, including social. He must remain a welcomed member of the team, and not an outcast. "Absence makes the case grow longer . . ."
9) Reward the employee for each step she makes toward full recovery, publically acknowledge her effort, reassure her that a safe workplace will be provided, and ensure any safety issues that lead to a work injury in the first place are now corrected.
10) Create a Culture of Care in which co-workers support the injured employee as he returns to work. It's good corporate citizenship, and it benefits everyone!
|The Value of Safety Training |
Affinity Occupational Health is pleased to announce we're partnering with Safety Compliance Associates, LLC of Green Bay to enhance our safety training services for you and your employees. As experts in workplace safety, the Safety Compliance Associates team knows the "why's" and "how's" of maintaining a proper safety program.
Why do we need a safety program?
"In our experiences, we've seen a handful of local organizations in the past six months receive violations equaling $25,000 or more for not having safety training programs in place," says Todd Rocheleau, account executive with Safety Compliance Associates. "These penalties were basic - lockout/tagout, hazard communication, personal protective equipment and machine guarding to name a few."
How can you avoid hefty penalties and ensure your company's safety? Rocheleau cites the following reasons to re-evaluate your current safety program or to start a program if you don't currently have one in place.
- OSHA has increased its staff to help enforce more rules and regulations. These include the following, according to the new Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis:
a) OSHA is strengthening its role in protecting America's workers. Solis stated, "The Labor Department is back in the enforcement business... So long as I am Secretary of Labor, the department will go after anyone who negligently puts workers' lives at risk."
b) The Labor Department will focus on three areas: strengthened penalties for workplace safety violations; shut down of dangerous workplaces; and increased inspections for federal worksites.
- The Department of Labor claims in a single year it will add nearly 670 investigators, inspectors and other program staff, which will return the worker protection efforts to a level not seen since 2001.
- Injury claims may be on the rise. Why? "Due to a lack of personal health insurance, more claims may go through Workers Comp," Rocheleau explains. A good safety program can help prevent injuries from happening in the first place.
- Implementing an accident prevention program costs far less than the accidents themselves. Remember to include the indirect costs (lost time, productivity, uninsured property damage).
- Penalties associated with non-compliance not only affect the pocket book, but also create scrutiny and can tarnish a company's public image.
- Safety training not only helps reduce workplace accidents but improves employee morale, which increases productivity.
- Safety programs help companies become more profitable by reducing Workers Compensation costs and improving productivity.
- Safety should NOT be neglected when companies implement budget cuts. If anything, companies should increase safety practices. For example, one "willful violation" could cost the company upwards of $70,000.
Know the Stats
The Bureau of Labor Statistics report stated that 5,657 workers died on the job in 2007, an average of 15 workers per day, and an estimated 50,000 more lost their lives due to occupational diseases. It's important to know your company's vulnerable spots, and to work now to mitigate risk.
Top 5 Frequently Violated Regulations in 2008:
1) Hazard Communication - written program
2) Machine Guarding
3) Hazard Communication - training program
4) First Aid
5) Walking/Working Surfaces
Common Workplace Injuries and their total costs:
1) Fractures = $79,613
2) Burns = $57,498
3) Laceration = $32,335
4) Hearing Loss or Impairment = $32,138
5) Respiratory disorder = $74,058
6) Sprains = $48,505
7) Vision loss = $104,355
Make Safety a Priority
If you're like many budget-conscious employers in an uncertain economy, you may be tempted to take safety programs to the chopping block. Not a good idea, says Rocheleau. "Reducing or cutting safety programs or training from the budget will only have a negative impact on the business when companies try to recapture or return to their pre-budget cuts. Reducing or stepping backwards is never a good practice when it comes to safety in the workplace," he says. "By implementing, developing or maintaining a safety program during times of economic hardship or budget cuts, companies will not lose their focus on safety and will be prepared when the economy strengthens or budgets again allow for rehiring or returning laid-off workers to the workplace."
For more information on establishing an effective safety program at your organization, call the Affinity Occupational Health Sales department at (920) 727-8700.
|Pass It On!
News to share with employees
Three Simple Stretches
to keep your back healthy and prevent injury
Note: Be sure to consult your doctor before beginning any stretching regimen. Certain stretches may or may not be appropriate depending on your body's unique condition and health status.
1) Lie on your back with knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
2) Place your bands on the back of your thighs and pull your legs toward your chest.
3) Pull until a gentle stretch is felt.
4) Hold for 15 seconds.
5) Return to the starting position.
6) Repeat 10 more times.
1) Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
2) Keeping your back flat on the floor, rotate your hips to the left, lowering your legs down to the floor until a gentle stretch is felt.
3) Hold for 15 seconds.
4) Return to the starting position.
5) Repeat 10 more times.
6) Keeping your back flat on the floor, this time rotate your hips to the right and begin the process again.
1) Lie on your stomach.
2) Prop yourself up on your elbows, extending your back.
3) Start straightening your elbows, further extending your back.
4) Continue straightening your elbows until a gentle stretch is felt.
5) Hold for 15 seconds.
6) Return to the starting position.
7) Repeat 10 more times.
Source: About.com - Physical Therapy
to print or forward this article to employees.
|Walk-in Injury Care|
7:50 a.m. Drive to work
9:45 a.m. Coffee break
11:26 a.m. Cut finger on the saw blade
Does your daily agenda look like this? Probably not. None of us has a crystal ball to predict when workplace injuries will occur. That's why Affinity Occupational Health is offering walk-in injury care at our Oshkosh clinic. No appointments needed - just show up between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. and our occupational health experts will be on call to tend to your (non life- or limb-threatening) work-related injury.
Affinity Occupational Health
1855 S. Koeller Street, Oshkosh
Walk-in care available Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
It's injury care on your schedule.
Ask the Expert
Julie Peterson, controlled substance/compliance specialist, Affinity Occupational Health
When is post-accident drug testing appropriate?
A: Accidents happen. They are not deliberately caused and we seldom, if at all, have any control over them. However, when the accident involves your employee, the employer does have control over what actions are taken following that accident. The employer must be able to identify whether or not the accident meets the criteria for post accident testing under the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. Or, if the employer has one, it may fall under their own company testing policy (non-DOT). An accident is uniquely identified by the respective DOT agency as well as those employees considered "safety sensitive." Read more
Have a question for our experts? Click here.
|Enter to Win!|
Congratulations to Lia Cummings of 4imprint, winner of the latest Health e-News prize drawing!
Are you feeling lucky? Our gift card prize drawing has become so popular, we're offering it again. Register to win a $25 gift card from Affinity Occupational Health. Prize winners will be drawn by Sept. 1.
By Charles Capasso, MD, MPH, FACOEM
A corporate drug screening/substance abuse policy is an important tool in promoting workplace safety. Though policies may vary from one work site to the next, prohibitions against drinking alcohol or using illicit drugs during or prior to reporting to work are becoming standard practice in many workplaces.
The goal of these policies is to prevent impairment and improve safety by setting standards and holding workers accountable. Some policies include drug testing, while others do not; and some offer treatment and one or more chances to get help. But no matter how a program is structured, all policies are intended to protect workers and promote safe workplaces.
The use and/or abuse of drugs, whether legal or illegal, impairs the individual's ability to perform his or her duties safely. Therefore, it would seem the more drugs we test for, the greater we reduce unsafe acts in the workplace. However, the benefits of testing beyond the standard five-panel (marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines and PCP) may be reduced when you consider the alternatives. All employers should be aware of the administrative and legal pitfalls before embarking on a drug screen policy that requires testing beyond the standard five-panel. Read more
Workplace Wellness Tip
First Aid Kit Essentials
Does your workplace have a first aid kit? It should! According to Brian Lawson of Gold Cross Ambulance, your kit should contain these essential supplies:
- Automated external defibrillator (AED)
- Nitrile gloves
- CPR barriers
- Gowns/face shields
- 4x4 dressings
- 5x9 dressings
- Major trauma dressings
- Band aids
- 81 mg baby aspirin for heart attacks
- 4-inch Kling or Kerlix brand bandages
- Large ice packs
Want more info on developing a successful first aid program? Click here
for full details.
|Meet Our Staff|
Bonnie Johnson is proud of her 17-year tenure with Affinity Occupational Health. Currently stationed as data coordinator for the department, she keeps the accounts up to date and records new information as business grows. She began her Occupational Health career as a receptionist for Dr. Charles Capasso in the Neenah clinic before taking on her current role when the Neenah and Appleton offices merged in 2005.
Bonnie is mom to three grown daughters with families of their own. Her daughters have blessed her with five grandchildren to cherish.
|Occ Doc in a Box|
Want more helpful insight from Dr. Harrison? Check out his blog, "Occ Doc in a Box," which focuses on topics relevant to the health and safety of your workforce. Click here
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