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P.O. Box 1750, Cockysville, MD, 21030
Workplace Safety Bulletin
Can You Claim Workers' Comp For Heart Disease And Hypertension?
In many states, employees can file a Workers’ Compensation claim for occupational injuries, illnesses and diseases caused by their job. An occupational disease can include heart disease and hypertension, and here’s what you need to know about filing a Workers’ Compensation claim for these conditions.
What is Heart Disease and Hypertension?
Heart disease and hypertension, or high blood pressure, can cause stroke, heart attack and other health concerns. Inactivity, being overweight and high stress could increase your risk of developing these conditions and limit your ability to work.
The Purpose of Workers’ Compensation
Individual states implement their own rules for Workers’ Compensation, but in general, a claim will only be approved if your injury or illness is related to employment. That means your work environment must have directly caused, contributed to or significantly aggravated your heart disease or hypertension.
Heart disease and hypertension often take years to develop. However, your work environment may directly contribute to the worsening of these conditions. Ongoing exertion, strain or stress or a single incident such a competitive game of basketball or a dramatic and stressful event can trigger symptoms and increase your risk for developing a heart condition or hypertension.
Cumulative Workers’ Compensation Injuries
Cumulative injuries are physical or psychological disabilities caused by repetition. Physical exertion, stress or tension in the workplace can lead to a cumulative injury, illness or disease, such as heart disease and hypertension.
Heart and Lung Bill Presumption
Firefighters, police officers and first responders in certain states fall under a heart and lung bill presumption. It assumes that because stress is part of the job these employees face a higher risk of developing heart disease and hypertension. For this reason, these employees are allowed to forego the medical exam that proves their heart disease or hypertension is job-related.
Can you File a Claim?
To file a Workers’ Compensation claim for heart disease and hypertension, you must first prove that your condition is work-related.
Receive a diagnosis from your doctor with verification that your condition is related to work and not an ordinary disease of life.
Report the diagnosis to your employer. You may need to take this step within 60 days.
If your claim is denied, file an appeal.
The Benefits you can Receive
If you receive Workers’ Compensation benefits for heart disease and hypertension, you can access several helpful benefits. They provide financial resources during your recovery and include:
Temporary disability benefits.
Permanent disability benefits.
Vocational rehabilitation training.
Workers’ Compensation protects employees. Consider filing a claim if you suffer from heart disease and hypertension that’s related to your job.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
Overworked and At-Risk
A study at
Occupational & Environmental Medicine
has turned up some interesting, if not quite surprising conclusions.
The study began by poring over extensive data from sources like the Center for Disease Control, in order to classify five types of exposure:
Extended weekly hours.
Extended daily hours.
Overtime or extended hours.
We could fill five or ten pages talking about how they calculated the risks and came to their conclusions, and you can go ahead and read the study and the source data if that interests you, but it breaks down like this: Those who work under a high level of exposure in any of these categories tend to suffer workplace injury at double the rate of those who do not.
The study suggests an injury rate of one in ten for high-exposure employees, and one in twenty for low-exposure employees.
In other words, no matter how hard you work to make your workplace safe, by overworking your employees, you're automatically doubling your risk.
Here are a few ideas to keep your employees safe and your risk factors low:
Try to avoid hiring people who will need to commute an hour or more in order to get to work every day. It may be disappointing to let the perfect candidate go simply because they live a little too far away, but not as disappointing as losing that employee to injury for a month because they're spending so much time on the road every day that they don't have time for a good night's sleep.
Save overtime for Fridays. Nobody's going to be as alert as you need them to be doing two twelve hour days in a row.
Hire enough people. Having one person do the job of two sounds like a great idea until you look at what an injury is going to cost you when they're staying late every day to handle the extra work.
In short: a well-rested employee is an alert employee, and an alert employee is less at-risk for injury on the job. This may not be the most surprising revelation, but now we have the numbers to see exactly how exhaustion plays into workplace safety.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
How To Get Employees To Slow Down And Stay Safe
February is National Time Management Month, and in an effort to speed up production, many supervisors push their employees to move faster. However, speed can contribute to mistakes, accidents and injuries. Use these tips to get your employees to slow down and stay safe.
Know the Risks
Evaluate your workplace for areas where employees rush through jobs and face potential dangers. Then create safety guidelines that protect employees and help them slow down.
Create Realistic Deadlines
Meeting production deadlines allows your company to remain profitable, but you don’t want to achieve this goal at the expense of your employees. Be realistic about deadlines and expectations so your employees can take their time, do the job right and avoid getting hurt or causing accidents.
Focus on One Thing
Rather than improving productivity, multitasking leads to mistakes, reduces focus and causes accidents. Remind employees to focus on one thing at a time to boost accuracy, productivity, creativity, and safety.
Employees need to recharge and rest. A break allows them to step away from work and focus on something else for a few minutes. They return to work energized and ready to tackle projects with renewed energy and improved safety.
Frequent stretching boosts focus, prevents repetitive stress injuries, and relieves aches and pains. Include frequent stretch breaks throughout the workday.
Provide the Proper Equipment
Tools and equipment can improve efficiency. Give your employees access to the equipment they need to do their jobs safely, and be sure they receive training on how to use that equipment properly.
In the rush to complete projects or fulfill orders, your employees may rush while lifting, carrying or stacking objects. Overexertion can cause strains, pulls and other injuries to backs, wrists, elbows, and spines. Prioritize safety with frequent reminders to slow down. Employees should also use proper lifting techniques, limit the weight they carry, and use a cart or other mechanism to help them lift and carry heavy items.
Avoid Repetitive Motion
Performing the same motion over and over can cause stress, strain and other injuries. Employees must avoid repetitive motions as they accomplish their daily assignments. They should use the proper posture and take breaks to stay safe.
Lack of sleep contributes to brain fog, lack of concentration, impaired judgment, and reduced reaction time. Working late and coming in early can be necessary in emergencies, but it shouldn’t be a habit. Employees need a full night’s sleep to function fully at work during the day.
Your company’s Workers’ Compensation insurance can cover employee injuries that occur on the job. However, encourage your employees to slow down, and you can reduce accidents and promote safety in every department.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
Cell Phone Safety Policies
Employers with mobile employees should make sure that they are taking a proactive approach to ensuring that these employees are using their cell phones in a safe manner and not putting themselves and bystanders at risk of injury. Any employer with mobile employees should have a cell phone safety policy in place that clearly defines if and how cell phone usage is allowed while driving and what the repercussions for breaking the policy are. To help ensure that the cell phone safety policy is enforceable, reasonably fair, and realistic, employers might seek the input of their mobile employees and management team when creating the policy. Here are seven policy options to consider:
Safety Training For Drivers.
Of course, you should ensure that all drivers of company vehicles have a valid driver's license. Your policy should also definitely require that any mobile employee using a company vehicle complete a driver safety and defensive driving course before being handed the keys to a company vehicle. These safety courses often include demonstrations related to driver distraction from cell phone usage. This can be a real eye-opener for drivers that might have never seen the devastation caused by vehicle crashes firsthand.
Post Warnings in All Company Vehicles.
A concise notice should be posted in all company vehicles. The notice should clearly state that cell phones shouldn't be used while driving and that if the phone call is an emergency, then the operator should let a passenger make the call or pull over before using the cell phone.
Hands-Free Device Option.
If feasible, your policy might be that mobile employees can only use hands-free devices when driving. While providing your mobile employees with a hands-free device isn't going to ensure that the worker isn't distracted by a phone conversation, hands-free devices have been shown to reduce distraction.
Answering Services or Call Forwarding Options.
It might be hard for mobile workers and those trying to contact them to adjust to an answering service or call forwarding option, especially if workers have previously been allowed to make calls or answer their phone while driving, but the convenience of immediately answering or making a phone call during driving activities simply isn't worth the risk and liability. After the mobile worker arrives at their destination, then they can check their messages and make appropriate return phone calls.
Turn the Cell Phone Off.
Your cell phone safety policy could include the mobile employee shutting the cell phone off while he/she is driving the company vehicle. The employee can turn their cell phone on to make needed calls or check their answering or call waiting service once they've arrived at their destination. If turning the cell phone off is part of your cell phone safety policy as a method to reduce driver distraction, then the policy should also include any passengers turning their cell phones off as well.
Let Employees Take Responsibility.
Most employees aren't going to adhere to a policy that's all talk and no action. The cell phone safety policy might also include making employees take responsibility for any fines or additional vehicle operation costs incurred from traffic violations related to illegal cell phone usage. The policy might also state a more harsh disciplinary measure for workers that acquire a certain amount of traffic violations.
Banning Cell Phones from Company Vehicles.
Before making a total cell phone ban part of a cell phone safety policy, employers should understand that this could leave the employee unable to contact emergency services in the event of an accident or emergency. So, completely banning the use of company or personal cell phones during driving should only be considered after careful thought and as a last resort. It might be necessary if mobile employees continually ignore the above policy options or have repetitive cell phone traffic infractions.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
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