Read about how to manage and reduce your workplace risk, keeping your employees safe and making your workplace compliant.

Workers’ compensation: Here are 15 warning signs of potential fraud

The workers’ compensation insurance system is a no-fault method of paying workers for medical expenses and wage losses due to on-the-job injuries. While the majority of claims are legitimate, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reports that billions of dollars of false claims are submitted each year.

2 or more of these may mean fraud

To help you detect possible workers’ comp fraud, experience shows a claim may be fraudulent if two or more of the following factors are present:

  1. Monday Morning: The alleged injury occurs either “first thing Monday morning,” or late on a Friday afternoon but not reported until Monday.
  2. Employment Change: The reported accident occurs immediately before or after a layoff, the end of a big project or at the conclusion of seasonal work.
  3. Job Termination: If an employee files a post-termination claim:
    • Was the alleged injury reported by the employee prior to termination?
    • Did the employee exhaust his/her unemployment benefits prior to claiming workers’ compensation benefits?
  4. History of Changes: The claimant has a history of frequently changing physicians, addresses and places of employment.
  5. Medical History: The employee has a pre-existing medical condition that is similar to the alleged work injury.
  6. No Witnesses: The accident causing the injury has no witnesses, and the employee’s own description does not logically support the cause of injury.
  7. Conflicting Descriptions: The employee’s description of the accident conflicts with the medical history or First Report of Injury.
  8. History of Claims: The claimant has a history of numerous suspicious or litigated claims.
  9. Treatment is Refused: The claimant refuses a diagnostic procedure requested by the employer to confirm the nature or extent of an injury.
  10. Late Reporting: The employee delays reporting the claim without a reasonable explanation.
  11. Hard to Reach: You have difficulty contacting a claimant at home, when he/she is allegedly disabled.
  12. Moonlighting: Does the employee have another paying job or do volunteer work?
  13. Unusual Coincidence: There is an unusual coincidence between the employee’s alleged date of injury and his/her need for personal time off.
  14. Financial Problems: The employee has tried to borrow money from co-workers or the company, or requested pay advances.
  15. Hobbies: The employee has a hobby that could cause an injury similar to the alleged work injury.

We are here to help with a claim

As mentioned above, most claims are truthful, but BCN Services and our partner insurance carriers keep our eyes and ears open to each of these factors throughout the life of a workers’ comp claim.

If you have concerns when an injury is reported, please let us know as that information will be factored into the decision-making process for the claim. If new or different information emerges “down the road” it is important we know so it, too, can be acted upon.

The experts at BCN Services are here to guide you in workers’ compensation and other HR matters, as it relates to workplace situations. Call on us if we can offer guidance or answer questions about your workplace injuries or benefits.

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Patrick Boeheim, Risk Manager

Unannounced MIOSHA inspections can add up to employer fines

It appears MIOSHA (the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has ramped up its “unannounced” inspections this past year with small business machine and repair shops and buildering contractors, both in General Industry or Construction categories.  Fines have been levied.  The wise adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” definitely has an application when it comes to safety in the workplace.

A multi-year review of the top 10 most frequently cited MIOSHA and OSHA violations show that violation types have remained fairly constant.  BCN Services will be dedicating this blog to safety issues throughout 2018 to raise awareness, educate and remediate the most serious of these violations.

No matter what the violation, the safety inspector always wants to see training plans.  When inspectors arrive, they check to see if the employer has properly trained employees regarding worksite hazards.  As a client of BCN Services, you have access, at no charge, to state-of-the-art, OSHA-compliant online safety courses for each of the following top 10 most serious violations, according to MIOSHA statistics:

  1. Lacking a hazard communication program – average fine: $512*
  2. Non-operational emergency eye flush stations – average fine: $933
  3. No effective information or training of chemicals – average fine: $497
  4. No written respiratory protection program – average fine: $865
  5. Exposure to air contaminants exceeding established exposure limits – average fine: $5,355
  6. Failure to provide appropriate eye and face protection – average fine: $565

Combined with no effective personal protective equipment training – average fine:  $690

  1. No program in place to determine if employees have a reasonable exposure to bloodborne infectious diseases – average fine: $820
  2. Failure to provide a medical evaluation to determine an employee’s ability to use a respirator – average fine: $596
  3. No written exposure control plan – average fine: $173
  4. No hearing conservation program when noise exposures equal or exceed the action level – average fine: $1,850

In addition to the above, there are several additional violations which include:

  • Lack of machine guarding
  • Improper wiring methods, components and equipment
  • Lack of forklift training
  • No fall protection program
  • Improper use of portable ladders
  • Using powered staplers and nailers with no proper eye protection
  • Employer not providing a safety harness when using an aerial lift

Once a fine is levied, MIOSHA will return to the employer’s site for follow-up.  Failure to correct a previously cited violation will result in additional fines averaging $2,554 per violation.

BCN Services’ safety program has dedicated resources providing safety walk-throughs, written programs, online safety training and recommendations at no charge for all of the above cited violations.  Our online safety programs average 15 minutes per course topic.  We also provide the OSHA 10-hour General Industry courses at least once per year by certified trainers.

Look for more specific information regarding the above in the coming year through our safety blogs.

Take advantage of all these resources and experience that “ounce of prevention” in 2018 for employee safety and peace of mind.  Call the Risk Management Department at BCN Services today at 734-994-4100, ext. 108 to access these programs.

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Patrick Boeheim, Risk Manager

When disaster strikes, employers must be prepared with a solid plan

A disaster can be defined as an accident, or natural catastrophe, that causes great damage or loss of life.  Certainly, there have been several, large natural disasters recently ranging from hurricanes to earthquakes.

On a smaller scale, a disaster could also encompass issues isolated to your office causing a disruption in business, such as an office fire or broken water pipe.

It is important for your business to develop and implement a detailed disaster recovery plan for a variety of situations. But with such a wide array of potential disasters, it can be difficult to know how to start the planning process.  Below are a few starting points as well as additional resources to aid you in the process:

  • Form an emergency planning team comprised of managers and staff who understand business operations and can brainstorm worse-case scenarios. The team should develop an emergency action plan based on its findings for each scenario.  Employees should then be trained on how to carry out the plan.
  • Protect business operations by involving your technology staff. They can develop an infrastructure with cloud-based backups or off-site servers to ensure continuity of your operation. You should also have a contingency plan outlining how you will access this data and continue operations if you lose access to your physical place of business.
  • Review insurance policies for adequate coverage that will pay for direct and indirect costs of the disaster. Speak with your insurance agent to determine if any additional policies are needed based upon your emergency action plan.  This may include cyber insurance or business-interruption insurance.
  • Develop a communication plan in the event of a disaster. Consider how you will notify employees when a disaster occurs and how you will continue to keep them updated.  Also, consider how and what you will communicate with your customers. As part of your plan, have language in place that can be readily used for emails or other types of communication both with your staff and your customers, if needed.
  • Finally, because business operations, employees and relationships change over time, it is important to have a periodic review of your emergency plans and make changes as necessary.

If you need additional resources or help developing your plans, OSHA is available to provide training and support including their publication, “How to Plan for Workplace Emergencies and Evacuations”.  Other free resources are offered by The American Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/workplaces-and-organizations) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (https://www.ready.gov/business). The experts at BCN Services are also available to consult with you and guide you through this process.

 

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Alicia Freeman, Operations Manager

BCN offers web-based health and safety Training for employees

Influencing the behaviors of employees and training them to work safely is fundamental to a successful risk management program. It also reduces your workers’ compensation costs.  BCN Services offers its clients an online training resource at no cost that can help successfully train your employees.

This value-added service is the premier resource for environmental, health and safety training solutions.  All safety training courses are expertly researched and use the latest adult learning theory and instructional design techniques. Each is technically accurate and reviewed by content experts and OSHA trainers to ensure accuracy.

These online courses fuse today’s adult learning theories with accurate content, engaging Flash animation and 3-D graphics, interactions, positive reinforcement and immediate remediation. In many cases, a format similar to YouTube uses actual workers rather than actors in a studio offering a more relatable experience for employees. Providing accurate instruction with clear communication on best safety practices when employees are engaged ensures retention of materials.

Value to our customers

Safety training is a solid business investment. The online courses represent tens of thousands of dollars in value that come free as part of your workers’ compensation coverage, offering the following advantages:

  • Unlimited access to more than 200 courses, available 24/7
  • Customization by industry
  • Documented training and record-keeping
  • Quizzes to test for comprehension
  • Logistical and administrative advantages for companies with multiple locations
  • Efficiency and significant cost savings
  • English- and Spanish-language courses available
  • True and responsive “live” technical support available during and after normal business hours

Streaming video format

There are many benefits to the streaming format:

  • Courses can be viewed from anywhere vis web browser
  • Courses may be taken individually or in small groups, depending on your company’s needs**
  • It eliminates product handling and shipping delays and costs
  • Basic reports are available for viewing
  • The videos have a quick, easy-to-use title search function
  • Classes are available where and when you need them with the click of your mouse
  • The products are perfect for training multiple shifts or locations
  • Friendly “tip sheets” for each course are also available, designed for any level of computer experience

Training videos include OSHA, DOT and EPA topics:

  • Accident investigation
  • Behavior-based safety
  • Chemical safety
  • Confined spaces
  • Construction safety
  • Disaster readiness
  • DOT & Transportation
  • Electrical safety
  • Environmental safety
  • Ergonomics
  • Fall protection
  • Fire safety & prevention
  • First aid
  • Food safety
  • Forklift training with operator permits
  • Hand & power tool safety
  • Hazardous materials
  • Heat & cold stress
  • Hearing conservation
  • Heavy machinery
  • HR topics: drug testing awareness, sexual harassment, workers’ compensation
  • Lab safety
  • Laser safety
  • Lockout-Tagout
  • Machine safeguarding
  • NFPA 70E
  • Off-The-Job safety
  • Office safety
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Pipeline & valve safety
  • Power press safety
  • Respiratory safety
  • Retail safety
  • Safety Teams
  • Slips, trips & falls
  • Welding safety
  • AND MORE MORE

BCN’s new customized employee safety orientation programs are becoming very popular.

Don’t miss out using these awesome tools.  The payoff is well worth employee time.  Call BCN‘s Risk Management Department at 734-994-4100, ext. 108 to discuss a program that fits your business needs.  Your employees will have a safe and strong safe work place and we are here to help make that happen!

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Patrick Boeheim, Risk Manager

Summer heat: At work, at home, in the yard or around your property

Summer heat can be more than uncomfortable: it can be a threat to your health and safety. This is particularly if your employees’ work takes them outdoors for long periods of time, or if the warehouse, kitchen or workshop don’t have proper circulation or temperature control.

Older adults and younger children can also be easily, adversely affected by the heat. Whatever your age, do not let the summer heat get the best of you.

Feeling thirsty means your body is on the road to dehydration. Do not wait until you are already dehydrated, especially if you are working or exercising outside in extreme heat.

Signs of Heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion occurs when a person cannot sweat enough to cool the body, usually the result of not drinking enough fluids in hot weather. It generally develops when a person is working, playing or exercising outside in extreme heat. Here are some symptoms:

  • Dizziness, weakness, nausea, headache and vomiting
  • Blurry vision
  • Body temperature rising to 101 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Sweaty skin
  • Feeling hot and thirsty
  • Difficulty speaking

A person suffering from heat exhaustion must move to a cool place and drink plenty of water.

Signs of Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is the result of untreated heat exhaustion. Here are some symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Unawareness of heat and thirst
  • Body temperature rising rapidly to above 101°F
  • Confusion or delirium
  • Loss of consciousness or seizure

Heat stroke is a serious medical emergency that must be treated quickly by a trained professional. Until help arrives, cool the person by placing ice on the neck, armpits and groin. If the person is awake and able to swallow, give him or her fluids.

Tips for Staying Cool

Below are some tips for staying safe in the heat:

  • Make sure indoor work areas have proper air circulation with fans, air conditioning or open windows.
  • Drink plenty of water: In hot weather, drink enough to quench your thirst. The average adult needs eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day and more during heat spells.
  • Dress for the weather: When outside, wear lightweight clothing made of natural fabrics and a well-ventilated hat.
  • Stay inside if possible: Do errands and outside chores early or late in the day.
  • Eat light: Replace heavy or hot meals with lighter, refreshing foods.
  • Think cool! Take a cool shower or apply a cold compress to your pulse points. Try spending time indoors at an air-conditioned mall or movie theater.

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Patrick Boeheim, Risk Manager

Watch out for identity thieves during tax time

This is the season for identity thieves to run rampant.  It is important to protect your identity, as well as your employees’ identities, throughout the year, but the threat increases this time of year as the April 18 tax deadline approaches (the traditional April 15 falls on a Saturday and Emancipation Day is observed in Washington, D.C. on Monday, according to IRS.gov).  Following are a few steps you can take in order to keep this information private:

  1. Never send an e-mail that contains full Social Security numbers.  If it is necessary to send this information, password protect the sheet you are sending.
  2. Always verify who is requesting the information and who you are sending information to.
  3. Never give out information to a person that contacts you via email or phone. If they are authentic, they will already have that information on hand.

The IRS warns of multiple phishing scams that they are currently aware of at these links:

If you have any questions about how best to protect yourself or your employees or if you are contacted by someone that doesn’t feel right to you, please contact BCN Services and let us help you through this process.

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Amber Heckaman, Sr. Staff Accountant

Eye on safety: Workplace injuries are preventable when the focus is on safety

More than 2,000 eye injuries occur each day while people are at work. Of these, 10 percent result in missed workdays and 10 to 20 percent of incidents will cause temporary or permanent blindness.

Almost 90 percent of these injuries could have been prevented by having employees wear appropriate eye protection while on the job.  Following is information to be aware of during Eye Injury Prevention Month, which takes place each October.

Eye injuries can result from a variety of causes:

  • Flying objects in the air
  • Tools
  • Particles
  • Chemical splashes
  • Harmful radiation

To protect your eyes from injuries while at work, consider the following recommendations for employees:

  • Identify and eliminate workplace dangers before beginning your tasks for the day.
  • Select safety glasses or goggles appropriate for the job and your facial features. Glasses should rest firmly on the top of your nose and close to (not against) the face.
  • Wear glasses or goggles that are properly ventilated for the work you are performing. Unless you are working near splash hazards, use goggles with plenty of side ventilation to prevent fogging.
  • If goggles fog easily, try another model with more ventilation or coat them with an anti-fog liquid.
  • Always keep safety goggles and glasses clean. Scratches and dirt can reduce vision, cause glare and may contribute to accidents.
  • If you wear prescription glasses, wear goggles designed to fit over your glasses or use safety glasses made with your prescription.

 But if there is an accident, follow these steps:

Specks in the eye

  • Don’t rub the affected eye.
  • Flush the eye with lots of water.
  • Go to your occupational medical clinic if the speck doesn’t wash out or if pain/redness continues.

Cuts, punctures and foreign objects in the eye

  • Unlike with specks of dust or metal, be sure NOT to wash out the affected eye.
  • Don’t try to remove a foreign object stuck in the eye.
  • Seek immediate medical attention.

Chemical burns

  • Immediately flush the eye with water or drinkable liquid. Open the eye as wide as possible.  Continue flushing for at least 15 minutes, even while you are on your way to seeking medical care.
  • If a contact lens is in the eye, begin flushing over the lens immediately. Flushing may dislodge the lens.
  • Seek immediate medical attention.

Blows to the eye

  • Apply a cold compress without pressure, or tape crushed ice in a plastic bag to the forehead and allow it to rest gently on the injured eye.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if pain continues, if you have reduced vision, or if blood or discoloration appears in the eye.

Sources:  The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health, National Safety Council, the Health & Safety Institute

 

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Patrick Boeheim, Risk Manager

Anatomy of a claim: Why It costs you money and how we can help

Have you experienced the misfortune of having one of your employees hurt on the job?  What happens in the ensuing hours and days determines both the care of your employee and can often drive the cost of your insurance for the next four years.

You are a responsible employer.  You send your employee to a nearby clinic and complete your OSHA Form 100.  You file a “First Report of Injury” to your agent or carrier, begin the process of medical treatment, and expect a speedy return to work.

This is where the difficulty begins.  In a perfect world, the above steps, properly timed and managed, result in a doctor’s visit and some short-term planning for getting the employee’s work done while they mend.  What often happens next can spiral your costs upward, many fold, and can affect your rates for years.

A typical employer workers’ comp claim, even with the best of breed insurance carriers, can involve upwards of 6 claims adjusters in the process.  Traditional carriers have specialties divided among staff for business efficiencies, but the cost for these types of handoffs and the possibility of miscommunication can be significant for any ONE claim.

BCN Services offers a unique “point-of-service” approach to workers’ compensation claims, where BCN’s Risk Manager, and ONE Dedicated Claims Adjuster manage care for your employee, from the time they are injured until they are able to return to work.   A support team, including our national loss control and legal teams, meet regularly to support claims closure and focus on each employee’s care and return to work.

The results of our business model are exceptional service for our client, extraordinary care for the employee, all while controlling your long-term costs.  It is a true win-win for our clients.

We have many cases that evidence how this system works for our clients.   We would enjoy sharing more about why our clients choose BCN and how we can help you and your business. Contact us today.

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Andy Hans, President/CEO

Fight cyber threats: Take action to ensure your emails and data are secure

Yahoo just announced this week that more than 500 million accounts had information stolen in what news reports say is one of the largest cyber-security breaches in history.  Yahoo has reported that a “state sponsored actor” was behind the breach.

What does this mean to you and your business?  It is important to make sure that your data, email, and online accounts are secure.  Below are several steps you can take immediately to ensure an increased level of security.

  • Change your passwords frequently: People are generally bad at selecting and creating passwords.   Create random passwords, make them long and use different ones for each account.  If you have problems remembering randomly generated passwords (everyone does!) consider a password manager such as  LastPass, Dashlane, KeePass, 1Password, and RoboForm.
  • Update your account information: Take time to review your most important account information for accuracy.  Make sure your email address, phone number and contact information are correct.  You will have a better chance to recover information if those items are accurate.
  • Consider two-factor authentication for your most important accounts: Adding a second level of authentication for the services you care most about will decrease your security risk.  This can be done by adding a text message code, a security key, randomly generated passwords, or even a phone call.  Search the help or support pages on your account web pages to find how you to implement multi- or two- factor authentication for each.
  • Review your privacy settings on your social network accounts: Are you sharing data and information with only whom you intend to?  Take the time to review privacy settings and err on being conservative.  If you are unsure of what you are allowing others to see, turn it off.
  • Have a good antivirus and firewall protection: Check that these systems are up-to-date and functioning properly.  There are several sites that can help you choose the best protection for you.
  • Pay attention to security alerts and suspicious links:– Browsers are now equipped with warnings to alert you if you attempt to visit a dangerous site. Don’t ignore these warnings.  Be aware of suspicious links and never download a file that your antivirus software or browser says is malicious.
  • Minimize the damage: Even the best practices may be susceptible to a hack.  If your account is hacked, be aware of what help is available.  Avoid storing unnecessary account information.   Make sure you have a good backup of your valuable data.  Hardware failures, accidental deletions, viruses and malware can destroy your data.  Have an automatic backup solution that works for you.   Also, take the additional step to test your backup system regularly so that it is working when you need it.

 

If you need help, contact the Human Resource experts at BCN. We are here to help, whether it is about  your employment policies or everyday decisions that impact your bottom line. Visit us at www.bcnservices.com or call us toll-free at 800-891-9911.

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Marcus Merillat, IT Manager

Ensuring safety on the job reduces risks for new employees

Providing a safe work environment and ensuring a safe start for new employees is not only the right thing to do, it’s the law.

OSHA has a general provision requiring employers to provide workers with the proper information, instruction and supervision to protect their health and safety while on the job. While this provision applies to all employees (whether new to their jobs or not) offering the best possible supervision and introduction to safety in the workplace is critical for a new hire.

The following tips can help employers ensure new employees are ready for work.

  • Always conduct new hire orientation and safety training.
  • Ask new workers about previous safety education and work experience. Don’t assume a new employee knows workplace safety basics.
  • Verify that every new worker knows rights and responsibilities, including:
    • The right to participate in health and safety training, and safety programs in the workplace
    • The right to know about possible hazards they may be exposed to on the job
    • The right to refuse unsafe work
    • The responsibility to follow safety procedures and wear any personal protective equipment (PPE) that may be required.
  • If English is a worker’s second language, it can contribute to on-the-job accidents and injuries. To promote worker safety, you should post signage and safety communication materials in the language in which your employees are fluent.
  • New employees are at a greater risk for a workplace injury than their more experienced co-workers. Most work injuries are caused by new employees who have not been properly trained to perform their job. As with all employees, workers new to the job must take an active role in protecting themselves. This includes:
    • Understanding all necessary safety measures before starting work. If they are unclear, instruct them to ask for clarification
    • Following all safety measures at all times
    • Wearing and maintaining required PP
    • If machine guards are required on equipment, ensuring that they are in place
    • Avoiding on-the-job shortcuts
    • Following hazard warnings when using chemicals; obtaining further information from the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) on hazardous chemicals if necessary
    • Asking about emergency procedures and being prepared to follow them in the event of a chemical spill or fire.

BCN Services can provide you with new employee safety orientation program that is specific to your business. Contact Patrick Boeheim, BCN Services Risk Manager, at 800.891-9911, extension 108 for assistance in developing your program.

 

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Patrick Boeheim, Risk Manager