Things you should know

Sleep studies

Unhealthy and inadequate sleep is a common and significant problem impacting absenteeism, presenteeism, health, and productivity. Here are findings from two recent studies:

Social jetlag linked to obesity

People who get much different amounts of sleep on workdays then they do on their free days are more likely to be obese and have an obesity-related disease, according to a new study from the Medical Research Council Harwell. “Social jetlag,” which is the difference between a person’s sleep pattern on workdays and free days, can raise the risk of a higher body mass index and indicators for inflammation and diabetes, researchers found. The causes of the increases are unknowns, but researchers noted that social jetlag interrupts healthy habits such as diet and exercise.

The study was published online Jan. 20 in the International Journal of Obesity

Workplace wellness program benefits employees with chronic sleep deficits.

A recent study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine points out that chronic sleep deficits can cost up to $3,156 per employee. The problem is how to reach workers who could benefit from healthy sleep guidelines and healthcare. The study examined a novel approach to how businesses can deliver an effective healthy sleep program through a workplace wellness facility.

Health care workers not always taking precautions with powerful disinfectants: study

Health care workers do not always follow precautionary measures such as wearing protective gowns and gloves when using high-level disinfectants, according to a recent NIOSH study. The study included nearly 5,000 nurses, technicians and dental professionals who used high-level disinfectants such as glutaraldehyde, orthophthaldehyde, peracetic acid and hydrogen peroxide to clean medical devices and found:

  • 44 percent of participants did not always wear a water-resistant gown or outer garment
  • 19 percent said safe-handling procedures were unavailable
  • 17 percent never received training about safe handling of HLDs
  • 12 percent had skin contact with HLDs during the previous week
  • Those reporting skin contact were 4 times more likely to not always wear protective gloves
  • 9 percent did not always wear protective gloves
  • 5 percent experienced an HLD spill or leak when handling it

The most frequently cited reason for not wearing personal protective equipment was “exposure was minimal.” The study was published in the February issue of Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

New EEOC Resource Guide on disabled individuals for employers

The resource guide, Recruiting, Hiring, Retaining, and Promoting People with Disabilities, provides employers with technical assistance tools in a question-and-answer format. The resource guide also identifies federal resources for employers interested in recruiting, hiring, retaining, and promoting disabled individuals. It is also intended to answer common questions from employers related to the employment of disabled individuals.

Prescription drug monitoring programs: Pennsylvania and Missouri

Pennsylvania and Missouri are the only states without a prescription drug-monitoring program that healthcare providers can access. While a law was passed in Pennsylvania to expand the list of drugs tracked under Pennsylvania’s monitoring program and make the database available to all health care providers and pharmacists, starting June 1, there is concern that there is no money in the budget to implement the program. In Missouri, Rep. Holly Rehder, is currently pushing H.B. 130, which would establish a prescription drug-monitoring program.

Low back pain linked to awkward positions, distractions: study

Awkward body positions, distractions and fatigue may contribute to low back pain, suggests a new study from the University of Sydney. Of the exposures, distractions during an activity had the highest odds of developing back pain, and moderate or vigorous physical activity had the lowest odds.

The study was published in the February issue of Arthritis Care & Research, a journal from the American College of Rheumatology.

Disease management programs can lower costs of some conditions: study

Disease management programs, designed to teach patients about their condition and help them manage it, can help lower employer costs and reduce hospital stays for workers who have certain health conditions, including asthma, musculoskeletal disorders and congestive heart failure, a recent study from the University of Minnesota indicates.

Researchers examined a disease management program, which uses telephone-based coaching, for university employees and dependents over six years. They found health care spending was lowered for patients with asthma, cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, depression, musculoskeletal disorders, low back pain and migraines. The program also decreased hospitalizations related to all of those conditions except congestive heart failure. “Avoidable” hospitalizations decreased for asthma, depression and low back pain. However, the program did not lower costs for diabetes, arthritis or osteoporosis.

Study finds few health benefits from treadmill desks

Workers who use treadmill desks experience a slight increase in physical activity but reap few health benefits, a study from Oregon State University suggests. About 40 overweight or obese workers at a health insurance company participated in the 12-week study, with half using treadmill desks.

Researchers said that although increasing steps might gain cardiovascular and other health benefits, the benefits might not outweigh the cost of treadmill desks, and workers would likely need to perform more physical activity to combat effects of sedentary behavior. The study was published in the December issue of the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Michigan autoworkers have higher risk of heart disease, diabetes: study

Michigan autoworkers have a greater risk of heart disease and double the frequency of diabetes compared to the general population, according to a recent study from Michigan State University. Among the findings, according to data from General Motors and the United Auto Workers, which funded the study:

  • More than 15 percent of the autoworkers had diabetes, double the national average.
  • More than half (53.7 percent) were obese and 35.8 percent were overweight.
  • 67.9 percent of workers had high levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, more than double the national average of 31 percent.
  • Less than half (47 percent) attended a company wellness program.

The study was published Sept. 11 in the Journal of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Obesity.

Medical fee schedule revisions in North Carolina

The North Carolina Industrial Commission has announced that maximum fees paid to hospitals and other institutions providing care under North Carolina’s workers compensation system are set to decrease, while maximum fees paid to physicians, nurses, and other professional providers will increase. According to the commission, the changes to fees for institutional services are scheduled to take effect on April 1, while the revised rates for professional services will take effect starting on July 1.

Volunteer firefighter council releases PPE guidance videos

The National Volunteer Fire Council has released six new videos on the proper use and maintenance of personal protective equipment for firefighters.

The short videos, available on both NVFC’s YouTube channel and its equipment resources webpage, cover the following topics:

  • The importance of PPE during overhaul
  • PPE cleaning guidelines
  • Guidance on replacing PPE
  • Protective clothing and equipment standards
  • Securing grants for PPE
  • New PPE regulatory standards

For Cutting-Edge Strategies on slashing Workers’ Compensation Costs visit www.PremiumReductionCenter.com

David Leng, CPCU, CIC, CBWA, CWCA, CRM

Author | Speaker | Certified Risk Manager | Certified Work Comp Advisor

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