Posts Tagged ‘repetitive stress’

Health Wonk Review, Illinois reform, Missouri SIF, mobile risks & more news notes

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Health Wonk Review – John Irvine & Matthew Holt host a hefty edition of Health Wonk Review over at The Health Care Blog – lots of good health wonkery there!
Illinois work comp reform – After all the sturm und drang in the Illinois reform process, we’ve had a breakthrough … a reform bill finally passed on the last day of the legislative session. In a Tale of Persuasion, AP’s Zachary Colman takes you step by step through the painful process. And at Managed Care Matters, Joe Paduda offers an excellent rundown of some of the key provisions in the Illinois work comp reform bill.
In other Illinois news, the matter of $10 million in repetitive stress claims filed by Menard County prison guards has taken some new twists. The Illinois house recently passed a bill requiring the release of the related workers’ comp test records in compliance with the Freedom of Information Act. A report obtained through the FOIA shows that locking and unlocking prison cells didn’t injure the guards.
Missouri’s second injury fund woesInjured workers in Missouri are being left in the lurch, according to a story in about the state’s troubled Second Injury Fund Roberto Ceniceros posts more about Missouri’s financially-ill second injury fund.
Mobile risks – Andrew Simpson writes about the increased workers comp exposure as more workers go mobile in Insurane Journal. In the past, the workplace was a clearly defined place and the hours of operation were also clearly defined, but as more and more workers go mobile, things are much less clearly defined – the lines between professional and personal life are blurring. Plus, employers are often supplying the mobile devices to workers, increasing their exposure to claims that occur when off site or off the clock. “Insurance claims professionals say claims made by workers injured while doing things where the relation to their employment is unclear are on the rise and the increasing use of mobile devices is challenging traditional notions of work-related injuries.”
Workplace violence factorsThe Workplace Violence Blog posts about the prevalence of workplace violence as evidenced by a Society of Human Resource Management survey, and states that “Approximately $55 billion a year is lost to litigation awards, property damage and lost productivity from workplace violence. It is estimated that productivity can drop as much as 50% in the six to eight weeks following a workplace violence incident.” The post includes seven common organizational factors that contribute tow workplace violence.
Industry growth – Insurance is one industry that is poised for growth. According to a recent research report issued by IBISWorld, employment in TPAs and and claims adjusting is set to grow 5.7% annually between now and 2016. “Other industries in the IBISWorld top 10 fastest-growing for the next few years include sustainable building material manufacturers, multi-family home builders, used car dealers, remediation and environmental cleanup services.”
MRSA facts from the CDC – From the CDC, MRSA and the workplace, including a list of frequently asked questions. Staph infections, including antibiotic resistant MRSA, MRSA skin infections can occur anywhere. However, the CDC notes that some settings have factors that make it easier for MRSA to be transmitted. These factors, referred to as the 5 C’s, are as follows: Crowding, frequent skin-to-skin Contact, Compromised skin (i.e., cuts or abrasions), Contaminated items and surfaces, and lack of Cleanliness. Locations where the 5 C’s are common include schools, dormitories, military barracks, households, correctional facilities, and daycare centers.

John T. Dibble’s Sympathetic Ear

Monday, January 31st, 2011

John T. Dibble is an arbitrator in Illinois. He was very active in the cases for carpal tunnel syndrome filed by 230 guards at the Menard Correctional Center. The guards alleged that their injuries were due primarily to the constant turning of keys in antiquated and rather sticky locks. No diddler, Mr. Dibble approved over half of the repetitive trauma cases filed by the guards, who collected nearly $10 million in a three year period. The repetitive filings for repetitive motion have caught the eye of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who has appointed a lawyer to investigate. NOTE to lawyer: WD 40 can do wonders for sticky locks.
It turns out that Mr. Dibble’s sympathies run deep. In fact, he has some shared experience with the prison guards who come before him. On November 12, 2009, Mr. Dibble fell on the steps at a hearing office in Herrin. He filed a claim for “post-traumatic carpal tunnel” [whatever that may be], claiming injuries to “both knees, both hands, both elbows and (his) left little finger.” That would be the finger he holds up in the air when partaking of his post-hearing tea, I suppose.
Mr. Dibble settled his case for $48,790. The payment included a 17.5% loss of function for each hand and a 7.5% loss of function in his little finger. The check was cut based upon a form signed by three parties: the office of the attorney general, a Central Management Services official and Dibble himself. Mysteriously, the award was not listed in the comp commisioner’s online data base. The actual case file has disappeared – and I’m guessing that the medical records have disappeared as well. It would be fascinating to read the doctor’s report that resulted in Mr. Dibble’s rather generous loss of function awards.
The job of arbitrator in Illinois is hazardous, indeed. Seven of the state’s 32 arbitrators either filed for or received a workers comp payment, including three for repetitive trauma. You know what happens: you listen, day in and day out, to the prison guards’s tales of woe, and eventually your fingers start to tingle and your wrist aches a bit. It’s the price you pay – and perhaps the reward you reap – for lending a sympathetic ear.
Kudos to reporters George Pawlaczyk and Beth Hundsdorfer of the Belleview News Democrat for their coverage of this story.

All shook up

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

“I had a huge, constant knot in my forearm. Chris Ojeda developed tennis elbow. Matty Eggleston popped a tendon in his hand. We were all sidelined with all these injuries.”

“It’s the same motion, back and forth, back and forth, rotating up high. You have a heavy weight at the end of the arm, out in the air. It’s not just the shoulder. It’s the wrist as well.”

“Any time you’re on your feet for 8, 10, 12 hours at a stretch with that amount of bending, lifted, constant movement, torquing your body around, it takes a toll on you.”

You would be forgiven if you think the above quotes are in reference to an athlete’s injuries but, no, we are talking bartenders here – – a type of urban athlete, one might say. Robert Simon of The New York Times looks at the stresses and strains – and the resulting injuries – of the modern day bartender. As demand for fancy cocktails and shaken drinks increases, bartenders are paying a price for their tips in the form of repetitive motion and muskuloskeletal injuries.
It doesn’t help that bartending, already a profession given to showmanship and flair, has become a bona fide performance art in many establishments. Take the “crazy monkey shake” referenced in the article. When we went looking for more information, we found a reference in this all-star shake-off feature that assesses various shaking styles and the qualitative effects on the resulting cocktail. The author says, “The crazy monkey involves shaking so hard and so long that your body feels like it is flying apart. The idea is to see if a ridiculous and unfeasible shake appreciably alters the drink.”
This is by no means the only in-vogue vigorous shaking style. There’s also the celebrated “hard shake” method. Watch a clip of Japan’s most famous bartender, Kazuo Uyeda, employing the hard shake technique. And this is but one of the hazardous trends that Japanese bartenders, highly regarded as masters of the craft, are popularizing: See ice ball carving and picture doing that 8 hours a day under rush conditions.
Is bartending the new frontier for injury prevention specialists? Judge for yourself next time you are socializing at a busy cocktail lounge over the holiday season. Simon’s NYT article talks about the need for bartenders to focus more attention on ergonomics and the need to adopt a mixology form that will minimize stress.
New York master mixologist Eben Freeman offers a hard shake tutorial if you’d like to try your hand. Presumably, this shaking style is a tad less perilous to the occasional cocktail maker than to the professional.

The Scoop on Scooping

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

As we head into winter, alas, let’s cast a fond look back at the balmy days of summer, when a dish of ice cream is never far from our thoughts. We read in the Vancouver Sun of a workers comp claim related to scooping. An unnamed convenience store employee served ice cream in the spring of 2009. She had a pre-existing shoulder problem, for which she had received cortisone shots. During one two-day period, she scooped $1,500 worth of ice cream cones. The pain in her shoulder flared up, to the point where she had to quit her job.
She had surgery on her shoulder and filed a workers comp claim, which the provincial board initially denied. She prevailed on appeal. Despite the pre-existing condition, her work certainly aggravated her shoulder through repeated scooping, bending and reaching, presumably with her wrist at an awkward angle. Scooping ice cream is not a risk-free endeavor.
Ergonomics at Ben & Jerry’s
I called Ben & Jerry’s (make mine Cherries Garcia), to learn about their approach to safety. They are well aware of the potential problems. Their employees are taught the mechanics of scooping: aligning themselves in front of the containers; using arm muscles (as opposed to the wrist); taking frequent breaks with stretching. Several of the folks I talked to in corporate began as scoopers in a local store, so their awareness came from personal experience. This is no surprise, given the proactive corporate culture.
The next time you indulge in a frozen treat, check out the mechanics of the scooper: do they move right in front of the bucket or do they reach across? Are the buckets placed so that reaching can be minimized? How well is the arm aligned? Is the wrist bent? Is the ice cream really hard and resistant?
Ok, I know, I sound like a killjoy, but once you look at the world through an ergonomist’s eyes, there is no turning back. By all means indulge (moderately) in your pleasures, but try to do no harm.

Health Wonk Review and other news from the blogosphere

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Health Wonk Review – Bob Laszewski hosts this weeks edition of the best healthcare posts on the Web! – check out this week’s Health Wonk Review.
Pharma – Joe Paduda discusses a planned FDA ban on certain medications which is likely to take a high toll on workers’ comp since they are “old stand-bys, drugs that have long been used to manage chronic and acute pain.” Joe notes: “The loss of these drugs will certainly drive up costs, may lead to adverse events as patients try other medications to replace their now-banned drugs, and may make it harder for patients to get medications.”
Ergonomics – A few ergonomics resources:
Call Center ergonomics: sit-to-stand work stations – if you have workers who spend the better part of their day on the phone or before a computer screen, sit-to-stand works stations might help to minimize repetitive stress injuries.
Exercises that protect against carpal tunnel syndrome – a four and a half minute video with tips from percussionist David Kuckhermann.
Thanks to Ergonmics in the News for the two links above – a great source for the latest news on the topic.
Work violenceHR Daily Advisor recently ran a pair of posts addressing workplace violence prevention. The posts are authored by Dennis A Davis, Ph.D., who notes that, “Because most people follow the rules, and because most violent people give ample signs before they act, employers can be successful at preventing workplace violence.” He offers six key steps for prevention. The first post is Workplace Violence Is Not Beyond Your Control and the second is Are Your Greeters Ready to Deal With a Violent Visitor.
Illegal immigrants – Peter Rousmaniere summarizes and links to A Portrait of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States, the latest Pew Hispanic Center report on illegal immigrants.

Ergo tips – workstation ergonomic design

Sunday, February 15th, 2004

Does your work keep you tied to the computer? Or too much time spent blogging? Cornell University Ergonomics Web offers several resources to help prevent back, wrist, or eyestrain. They offer a pictorial guide to setting up workstation components to prevent injuries and to ensure comfort while you work or play at the computer. They also have a “where it hurts” ergonomic guide that offers suggestions to address any discomfort or pain that you might experience.
For another pictorial guide, try OSHA’s computer workstation ergonomics e-tool, including a handy one-page workstation set-up and purchasing guide checklist. And Healthy Computing’s office ergonomics offers set-up tips, a buyer’s guide, and a variety of other resources, including a list of office exercises and stretches you can do at your seat to relieve stress in your back, eyes, wrists, hands, neck, and shoulders.

OSHA and repetitive stress reporting rules

Tuesday, October 14th, 2003

Tip of the hat to Robert Vonada of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Journal for pointing us to this Washington Post article on OSHA and reporting rules for repetitive stress injuries … or perhaps it is more accurate to say the lack-of-reporting rules.