Things you should know

New medical billing codes will aid workers compensation payers

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ scheduled switch to a larger set of medical billing codes could ease Medicare secondary payer compliance for workers’ compensation claims. Starting Oct. 1, medical providers will switch from ICD-9, which includes about 17,000 diagnosis and procedure codes, to ICD-10, which includes more than 155,000 diagnosis and procedure codes. Many ICD-10 codes also specify the types, locations and severity of conditions and injuries. More information

Survey: One-third of employees say they’ve worked with a bully

According to recent research from staffing firm OfficeTeam, about one in three (35 percent) workers surveyed admitted they’ve had an office bully. More than one-quarter (27 percent) of human resources (HR) managers interviewed said they think workplace bullying happens at least somewhat often at their company.

When employees were asked how they responded to a bully, 32 percent stated they confronted the person. Another 27 percent told their manager, and 17 percent did nothing. More information

NIOSH advises on creating safety materials

A recent blog post by NIOSH sheds light into choosing the most effective art for safety materials for an audience of Spanish-speaking immigrant workers. The agency determined that strong, clear imagery could connect with immigrant workers – many of whom have low literacy levels. Both photographs and illustrations could be effective, NIOSH stated, but the agency selected the latter because of its emotional impact, adaptability and challenges in staging authentic risks.

Mid-morning breaks may improve worker concentration, health: study

Taking a work break in the mid-morning, rather than waiting until the lunch hour or midday, may “replenish more resources” such as concentration and energy and lead to better health, according to recent research from Baylor University.

“We found that when more hours had elapsed since the beginning of the work shift, fewer resources and more symptoms of poor health were reported after a break. Therefore, breaks later in the day seem to be less effective.”

One-fifth of chronic lung disease in construction workers linked to asbestos, silica and other on-the-job exposures

A recent study by the Center for Construction Research and Training and Duke University found that 18 percent of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) among construction workers is caused by on-the-job exposure to vapors, gases, dusts, and fumes such as asbestos, silica dusts, and welding fumes. Their findings indicate that, while smoking remains the main cause of COPD, workplace exposure to these hazards pose a more significant risk than previously thought and employers should take appropriate actions to protect workers.

Study: taking opioids for back pain delays return to work

Being prescribed an opioid for low back pain may keep workers off the job longer, according to a new study from McMaster University.Researchers analyzed 1,442 claims from the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and found that workers receiving disability benefits for low back pain were more likely to stay on claim if they received opioids.

New safety resources available to Spanish-speaking workers

NIOSH has produced “Protect Yourself at Work” resources – including four booklets/brochures, five videos and two posters. Additionally, four construction toolbox talk guides from the Oregon Occupational Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program have been translated into Spanish:

  • “Construction worker dies when he leans out of the protective cage of a skid steer forklift”
  • “Excavation worker killed by flying rigging when hook fails”
  • “Novice drywall installer dies in 7-foot fall from scaffold”
  • “Home construction worker falls down elevator shaft”

Work stress as bad as secondhand smoke, researchers suggest

Workplace stress may be as unhealthy as exposure to secondhand smoke, according to a study from Harvard Business School and Stanford University.Researchers analyzed more than 200 studies assessing the effects of workplace stressors on health and found:

  • Job insecurity increased the odds of reporting poor health by 50 percent.
  • High job demands increased the odds of a physician-diagnosed illness by 35 percent.
  • Long work hours increased mortality by nearly 20 percent.

NCCI rate recommendations: Indiana, Tennessee, Oklahoma

The National Council on Compensation Insurance Inc. (NCCI) has proposed a 3.2% overall rate increase to Indiana’s voluntary and assigned risk markets, to take effect on Jan. 1, 2016 and recommended an overall loss cost level decrease of 0.9% in Tennessee, which would take effect March 1. Workers’ compensation rates in Oklahoma are expected to drop in 2016 since NCCI filed an overall loss cost decrease of 14.8 percent.

Long shifts double injury, illness risk for EMS workers: study

Emergency medical services workers whose shifts last longer than 12 hours have double the risk of an occupational injury or illness, according to a study from the University of Pittsburgh. The risk increased to 60 percent for EMS personnel working shifts of 16 to 24 hours. The study was published online Sept. 14 in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Trawl fleet workers face huge injury risk, NIOSH says

Workers on trawl fleet vessels off the coast of Alaska in the Bering Sea and around the Aleutian Islands have an injury risk 4 times greater than the average U.S. worker, warns a new NIOSH fact sheet.


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