Study Injury Cost to Quantify Value of Safety Intervention
Before making the decision to invest in health and safety interventions in the workplace, employers first need to determine the cost of a work-related injury or illness that an intervention may prevent. Several resources are available to assist employers in generating an analysis.
The National Safety Council annually publishes statistics on occupational injuries and fatalities and their associated costs in its Injury Facts® report. However, the organization notes that obtaining accurate information on nonfatal injuries occurring in the workplace is a difficult task.
The National Association of Occupational Health Professionals suggests that employers study ratios and ROI, profit margin, and reductions in lost time to assist in making their decisions. Ratios can show the extent to which a company can recover dollars spent on a prevention program, and profit margin analyses can determine how much sales revenue a company would need to generate to pay for a loss.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes data on work-related injuries and illnesses, including conditions that require days away from work, at www.bls.gov/iif, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Safety Pays Program offers an interactive system to estimate the costs of injuries and illnesses, and their impact on profitability, at www.osha.gov.
The Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety’s Workplace Safety Index provides data on the cost burden of disabling workplace injuries at www.libertymutual.com/researchinstitute.
Turn analytics into action
The time may come to turn your number-crunching efforts into workplace actions. Maddy Bowling, MS, BS, principal of Maddy Bowling and Associates Consulting, has these tips for employers:
- Identify big-dollar diagnoses, where and in what jobs they occur most often.
- Build individual location injury management programs to reduce the frequency and cost of these diagnoses.
- Insist on “true impact” reports from cost-containment vendors.
- Integrate and use claims data, as well as detailed medical and cost-containment data.
- Keep it simple; focus on no more than five or six summary metrics at a time.
- Obtain buy-in from senior management and partner with health and safety professionals.
- Establish and maintain credibility by providing quarterly reports with comments on trends.
For more information on workplace safety issues, call Jason Bandermann, MBA, referral services manager, at 573-331-5825.
QuantiFERON®-TB Gold is the More Accurate TB Test
Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the most prevalent infectious diseases in the world, with an estimated one-third of the world’s population infected. The QuantiFERON®-TB Gold test is the latest addition to the occupational medicine practitioner’s toolbox in the battle to keep TB out of the workplace.
“Of course, Missouri is not exempt from TB,” states Dennis J. Straubinger, DO, MPH, MRO, occupational medicine physician at Saint Francis Medical Center. “Cape Girardeau County recorded 38 TB cases in 2009. Early detection and prompt intervention are the keys to preventing the illness from becoming more serious.”
The bacteria that cause TB can attack any part of the body, but the lungs are the most common target.
The disease spreads through the air as infected people cough or sneeze. Those infected with TB may not have any symptoms (latent TB), or they may develop the disease years down the road (active TB). Medications can prevent the latent (dormant) disease from developing into active TB.
The Gold standard
The QuantiFERON-TB Gold test, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2005, is far more accurate in the detection of TB than its skin-test predecessors. QuantiFERON-TB Gold is a blood test that takes only 24 hours to generate a clear report, and other immunizations and medicines do not influence the results.
“It is accurate and head and shoulders above the old skin tests with regard to ease of acquiring the specimen,” Straubinger says. “It allows the physician, employer and employees to make sound decisions in regard to the treatment of TB.”
TB is treatable, assuming the organism is not of a drug-resistant variety. Drug therapies and testing programs are part of a comprehensive package that a good occupational medicine department can offer.
For more information on occupational medicine, call Jason Bandermann, MBA, referral services manager, at 573-331-5825.
Loud Digital Players Can Contribute to Hearing Loss
Have you ever wondered how much damage a digital music device is doing to someone’s hearing if the tunes are loud enough for others to hear? It turns out it may do a potentially significant amount of damage.
According to studies by the Hearing Research Lab at the University of Colorado and Children’s Hospital Boston, overexposure to loud digital music players can cause permanent hearing loss over time. Each time you experience a temporary hearing loss, such as after attending a loud concert or spending time in a loud environment without ear protection, some damage occurs to the ear.
While age-related hearing loss may be expected with more experienced hires, do not assume younger candidates have better hearing. Given the popularity of digital music players, younger prospects may have surprising hearing deficits. Pre-employment audio exams will help establish any candidate’s baseline. As always, ensure your workplace’s noise environment is monitored, and if necessary, you should have a managed hearing conservation program.
For more information on employee health issues, call Jason Bandermann, MBA, referral services manager, at 573-331-5825.