A team effort promotes recovery and saves business

If you look forward to going to work every day, oftentimes it’s because of the people you work with. That’s how it was for Josh Paulin. As a valued member of the Classic Construction team, Josh’s special relationship with his employer provided the momentum for his successful return-to-work story. While sealing a roof on the job, Josh fell and nearly lost his life. Josh’s coworkers watched the traumatic accident in devastation as paramedics fought to save him.

When you’re faced with a life-changing event like Josh was, the best outcome is getting back to the life you love. For Josh, getting to that point required learning to walk, talk and read again. Watch Josh’s story and see how Texas Mutual Insurance Company and his employer were by his side every step of the way.

Josh’s story is a perfect example of how valuable a return-to-work initiative is for businesses and injured workers. As a seasoned employee, Josh’s employer was eager to get him back on the team. While continuing rehabilitation, Josh went back to work with modified job duties. He was able to contribute his unique expertise to the company surrounded by coworkers who supported his ongoing recovery. Meanwhile, Josh’s employer had peace of mind over the future of his business.

When a worker sustains life-changing injuries, coming to terms with the new way of life can be a challenge, but a return-to-work program provides countless benefits. Employees can focus on their recovery rather than stress about their financial situation. By being surrounded by team comradery, they avoid isolation from peers and symptoms of depression. Giving injured workers purpose and surrounding them with familiar faces to celebrate recovery milestones promotes quicker healing.

2017-04-05_16-34-45For employers, implementing a return-to-work program maintains production by keeping experienced workers on the job. Bringing on a temporary employee or hiring someone new requires time and effort. Meanwhile, the business loses productivity. Employers who invest in return to work can minimize lost productivity and control workers’ compensation costs, while also encouraging the ongoing recovery of a valued employee.

It was a team effort getting Josh back on the job after his traumatic accident, but it made all the difference. For more resources on return-to-work programs and implementing them in your business, visit the Return-To-Work page at texasmutual.com.

Chuy’s Story of Recovery and Success

When Jesus “Chuy” Duarte went to work in the oilfields of Odessa four years ago, he never imagined it’d be a day that would change his life forever.  Having been sent on a special job three hours away, he headed out in his vehicle and what he remembers next is waking up in a hospital a month later and being told he would never be able to walk again.

However, Chuy had a different idea of the direction his recovery would take, and Texas Mutual was there to support him as he took the journey. Take a look at Chuy’s story and see how his tenacity, and Texas Mutual’s support, got him to where he is today.

Accidents like the one Chuy experienced happen all too often across Texas, even though Texas Mutual and the employers we support work hard to prevent them. When these tragic events do happen, what’s important is maintaining a focus of getting back to a productive life. This requires perseverance from those hurt on the job, strong support and advocacy from Texas Mutual, and the commitment from employers to create return-to-work plans to help workers return to productive work when possible. Returning to a productive life is always in the best interests of those affected by workplace accidents.

chuy_1It has been four years since the devastating accident and Texas Mutual continues to be involved in ensuring Chuy’s wellbeing. Chuy attributes part of his recovery to the support he received from Texas Mutual. “That’s what got our family through the harsh times,” he said.

See more injured worker success stories here, and visit texasmutual.com to download our free return-to-work tools for employers.

Reasonable accommodations: Lessons from the gridiron

Jason Pierre-Paul is among the mere 1.6 percent of college football players gifted enough to make it to the National Football League. Pierre-Paul, better known as JPP, is a pass-rushing defensive lineman for the New York Giants. In layman’s terms, he makes a living – a darn good one – making life difficult for the opposing team’s quarterback.

Sample reasonable accommodations
Injury Accommodation
A warehouse worker with a shoulder injury had trouble reaching material overhead. Storage areas were rearranged so heavy and frequently used materials were accessed at waist level.
A forklift driver with rheumatoid arthritis had difficulty grasping the steering wheel. The forklift was fitted with a spinner ball to eliminate the need for grasping.
A data entry clerk was having difficulty sitting for long periods due to his back impairment. He was accommodated with a sit/stand workstation, an ergonomic chair and a copy holder.
A medical technician who was deaf could not hear the buzz of a timer, which was necessary for specific laboratory tests. An indicator light was attached to the equipment.
A police dispatcher with heart disease had fatigue, which worsened when he did not keep a regular sleep schedule. He was accommodated with a dayshift instead of having to rotate shifts.
Credit: Job Accommodation Network

Like anyone who ascends to the game’s highest level, JPP has worked hard all his life, and he can spend his money on whatever he sees fit. And that’s exactly what he did last summer, when he purchased a U-Haul van full of fireworks for a Fourth of July party at his home.

Despite sage advice from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, JPP orchestrated the show himself rather than hiring a professional. And that was just fine until a bottle rocket exploded in his hand. Witnesses say a green and white light instantly swallowed JPP’s 6′ 5″, 278-pound frame.

If you follow the game even marginally, you know JPP survived the ordeal relatively intact, with one notable exception. Doctors had to amputate his right index finger, as well as part of his thumb and middle finger.

When you spend the better part of your life learning to use your hands to move opposing players out of your path, losing even one digit is devastating. So it’s no surprise JPP panicked in the aftermath of the accident.

It’s not that he can’t do his job anymore. He just has to learn how to do it differently. And that is the perfect jumping off spot for two key points:

  1. Your employees’ personal lives inevitably carry over into their work lives.
  2. Injured employees might not be able to return to their normal duties immediately, but that doesn’t mean they can’t contribute to productivity. You might be able to work with the treating doctor to come up with reasonable accommodations.

Reasonable accommodations are modifications or adjustments to a job, the work environment or processes that enable a person to work. For JPP, that means a wrist strap fitted with hooks to help him lift weights and a glove custom-fitted for his right hand.

The adaptive devices industry grows every day, so it’s easier than ever to identify and implement reasonable accommodations. Some are simple, and some require creative thinking.

Basic solutions include one-handed keyboards to accommodate hand injuries, chairs that allow workers with spinal conditions to alter sitting positions, software that increases text size for people with visual impairments, and adjustable-height work surfaces.

Advanced solutions include re-engineered packaging machines, modified cutting devices and lightweight, plastic dumpster lids. The only limits on adaptive devices are our own imagination and the laws of physics. It’s all about finding what works for your employee. And that’s where they can help.

Texas Mutual return-to-work specialists recommend employers collaborate with their employees to identify reasonable accommodations. Employees know their jobs better than anyone, and they are in the best position to tell you what will work for them.

Reasonable accommodations can be costly in the beginning, but they ultimately pay off for employees and the bottom line. If return-to-work sounds like a worthy investment for your business, take advantage of the free resources you have access to.

Texas Mutual’s website includes a comprehensive guide to implementing all aspects of a return-to-work program. The Texas Department of Insurance also offers a range of free material on its website.

Return-to-Work: Job descriptions are your ace in the hole

You work hard to prevent on-the-job injuries, but accidents happen. When they do, the goal is to get the employee well and back to work. One of the first questions your insurance carrier will ask is, “Can the employee still do their normal job?”

That question is tough to answer if we don’t know what the employee’s normal job duties are.

Watch this short video to see how a near-fatal accident sent Lonnie Williams down a new career path.

Thorough job descriptions for every position at your company are critical to the return-to-work process. They are important pieces of the disability puzzle that help vocational case managers put on their creative return-to-work thinking caps.

A vocational case manager’s job is to evaluate the injured worker’s normal job duties. Then, they coordinate with doctors to get a work release based on agreed upon modifications to the original job.

Thorough job descriptions pay close attention to the physical demands of each task. In developing job descriptions, ask yourself these types of questions:

  • How much does the employee have to lift? How high? How often and how long?
  • What kind of tools and equipment does the employee use?
  • What are the environmental conditions (heat, cold, noise)?
  • How long does the employee sit, stand or bend?
  • Does the job comply with the employee’s new work restrictions?

That last question can be tough to tackle, but remember that you don’t have to answer it alone. The physician can help if you provide a good job description.

The Texas Department of Insurance created form DWC-74 as a template for communicating injured workers’ job duties to physicians. A thorough DWC-74 tells the physician exactly what the employee does on the job every day. From there, the doctor determines whether the employee can still do those tasks.

If not, the doctor will use form DWC-74 to explain the injured worker’s restrictions. Your vocational case manager can use that information to identify alternative productive work the employee can do while they recover.

Your insurance carrier might be able to help you develop job descriptions. For example, Texas Mutual employs the state’s largest team of workplace safety professionals. They help our policyholders analyze jobs and develop written job descriptions for the return-to-work process.

For more information about writing job descriptions, see page 17 of Texas Mutual’s Return-to-Work Kit for a Physical Demands Task Assessment checklist. For more information on return-to-work, visit our website.

 

This Week in Comp, October 27-31

This Week in Comp provides an overview of workers’ compensation news from across the country.

TRIA expiration fast approaching
With TRIA set to expire at the end of the year, its renewal remains in limbo…MORE

Wellness as an injury prevention tool
The proportion of older workers (55 years and older) in the U.S. climbed from 16% in 2004 to 22% in 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The aging workforce presents new opportunities for safety professionals to implement wellness as an injury prevention tool…MORE

NNT in pain management: You’ve been right all along
The National Safety Council’s Dr. Don Teater, M.D. has penned a white paper that contains powerful data and interesting insights regarding the use of opioids for chronic non-cancer pain. Essentially, Dr. Teater’s research indicates that for most patients, ibuprofen and acetaminophen are safer and more effective than opioids…MORE

Distracted driving: The self-correcting nature of science
A majority of research on driver distractions has focused on cell phones. More recent studies remind us that other distractions, such as daydreaming, talking to passengers or correcting children also take our focus off the task at hand…MORE

CDC tightens PPE guidelines for health care workers
The new guidelines focus on three areas: 1. Training, including how to put on and remove PPE. 2. No skin exposure when PPE is worn. 3. Supervision by a trained monitor while putting on and removing PPE…MORE

No chief’s disease here
David DePaolo recounts a workers’ comp success story from the California Highway Patrol…MORE

Regulatory roundup
Texas Mutual’s weekly mash-up of health and safety-related regulatory news…MORE

Workers’ comp study looks at California’s reforms
Large increases in office visit fee schedule rates under SB 863 will likely lead to substantial increases in prices paid in California, as the reforms intended.  However, the reimbursement rule change regarding reports, record review, and consultation codes may moderate the potential increase in payments, according to a recent study released by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute…MORE

Consequences of failing to report & respond to work injuries
Even for the best employers following workplace safety guidelines, accidents happen. When they do, it is important to follow recognized procedures when responding to work injuries. Failure to properly report and respond to the injury can have significant adverse consequences…MORE

Links to and from this blog do not reflect any affiliation between Texas Mutual Insurance Company and third parties, and are not an endorsement by Texas Mutual Insurance Company of the linked sites (or their owners or operators) or of any content located there. Texas Mutual Insurance Company does not vouch for the availability or accuracy of any information contained on linked sites. Read more of this post

This Week in Comp, October 13 – 17

This Week in Comp provides an overview of workers’ compensation news from across the country.

Ohio man fakes workplace injury, employer discovers it on security video
The employer’s security video revealed that the employee  stomped a hole in a wooden floor the night before he said he was injured and on the following day, lowered his foot into the floor and laid down on the platform…MORE

Click the image above for a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention podcast on driving safety.

Click the image above for a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention podcast on driving safety.

Ebola: Call for preparedness
At this time, Ebola is not a major workplace health hazard for most workplaces in the United States. Nevertheless, being prepared for any infectious disease event should be a priority for every employer…MORE

Test your driving IQ in the Oct. edition of TDI’s newsletter
The Oct. edition of “Safety and Health Update” includes a short quiz on driving laws, eye safety tips and the benefits of return-to-work…MORE 

Study compares medical costs across 16 states, including Texas 
The Workers’ Compensation Research Institute study provides a baseline of current medical costs and trends for policymakers and other stakeholders by documenting how medical payments per claim and their cost components compare over time with other states….MORE

OSHA releases Oct. 15 edition of QuickTakes
The edition features OSHA alliances with the Association of Energy Service Companies and the Federal Communications Commission. The alliances’ goal is to reduce workplace injuries among cell phone tower and oil field workers, respectively…MORE

Regulatory roundup
Texas Mutual’s weekly mash-up of health and safety-related regulatory news…MORE

OSHA: proposed fines up, inspections down for FY 2014
OSHA initiated 30,679 inspections and cited 55,163 alleged violations during the first 10 months of the current fiscal year, compared to 39,228 inspections and 78,196 alleged violations in FY 2013…MORE

Links to and from this blog do not reflect any affiliation between Texas Mutual Insurance Company and third parties, and are not an endorsement by Texas Mutual Insurance Company of the linked sites (or their owners or operators) or of any content located there. Texas Mutual Insurance Company does not vouch for the availability or accuracy of any information contained on linked sites. Read more of this post

This Week in Comp, October 6 – 10

This Week in Comp provides an overview of workers’ compensation news from across the country.

NETS encourages Americans to observe Drive Safely Work Week

Click the image above for a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention podcast on driving safety.

Click the image above for a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention podcast on driving safety.

Nearly two-thirds of all people killed on U.S. roadways were members of the nation’s workforce, according to the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS). During Drive Safely Work Week, NETS offers free resources to help employers promote safe driving among their workforce..MORE

Heroin death rates doubled in 28 states, 2010-2012
Despite the spike in heroin-related deaths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted more than twice as many people died from prescription opioid overdoses in those states…MORE

Regulatory spotlight
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has revised its hazard communication standard (HCS), which helps employees understand the hazards associated with chemicals they use in the workplace. This brief post explains employers’ obligations under the revised HCS..MORE

NSC study: Over-the-counter pain medications more effective for acute pain than prescribed painkillers
Pills White BackgroundThe combination of over-the-counter pain medications ibuprofen and acetaminophen is more effective at treating acute pain than opioid painkillers, according to a white paper released by the National Safety Council. The white paper comes on the heels of a new law that makes it more difficult for doctors to prescribe hydrocodone combination products…MORE

What insurers can learn from states’ workers’ compensation reforms
Reforms that include employer-directed care, limitations on prescription drugs and objective standards of medical care have produced some of the most meaningful cost savings in the 20 largest workers’ compensation markets, according to a study by Conning…MORE

OR DCBS releases national study on workers’ compensation costs
The study ranked workers’ compensation costs in all 50 states. California’s rates were the highest, and North Dakota’s were the lowest…MORE

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers free resources on recognizing and controlling the risks associated with Ebola…MORE

Regulatory roundup
Texas Mutual’s weekly mash-up of health and safety-related regulatory news…MORE

Study: Formulary could save California workers’ comp $124M-$420M
If California adopted a prescription drug formulary similar to the one Texas adopted, it could save up to $420 million a year in workers’ compensation costs, according to a study by the California Workers’ Compensation Institute…MORE

Links to and from this blog do not reflect any affiliation between Texas Mutual Insurance Company and third parties, and are not an endorsement by Texas Mutual Insurance Company of the linked sites (or their owners or operators) or of any content located there. Texas Mutual Insurance Company does not vouch for the availability or accuracy of any information contained on linked sites. Read more of this post

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