The construction market is one of the leading industries requiring lifting, pulling, tugging, and the operation of heavy machinery and equipment. That’s why it’s no surprise that there continues to be a number of landmines, and sometimes, unforeseen challenges impacting workplace safety. And, while many leading organizations have a number of prevention measures in place, the industry continues to experience a high rate of on-the-job injuries that have to be managed each year.
ADDICTION TO PAIN MEDS
According to Liz Griggs, CEO of Canterbury Healthcare, “Some of these injuries have not only resulted in the administration of medical care, but also resulted in the prescription, and regrettably the addiction to, pain medication. We now have to realize that the opioid use in this country is no longer just a problem, but it’s also a growing epidemic that we must address.”
In fact, a recent CNA Financial Corp. survey revealed that the cost of opioid use is greater for injured construction workers than for injured workers in other industries, with spending on opioids in construction being 5 to 10 percent higher than other industries. Moreover, the study showed that approximately 15.1 percent of construction workers have engaged in illicit drug use, further feeding into the ever growing drug culture in the U.S.
“Given these startling statistics, it’s becoming even more imperative for businesses, like ours, to deploy aggressive and proactive measures to stop the ongoing abuse cycle,” shares Griggs. “That’s why we are working so hard at Canterbury to introduce new solutions, including post-injury detox programs to help workers recover and get back to work so they can be even more productive.”
WORKPLACE SAFETY COSTS
Adding to the opioid concern is the fact that the construction industry, along with other leading industries, continues to face a number of other issues impacting workplace safety costs. For example, just last year new regulations launched requiring companies to now assume work comp risks for their contract/temp employees. In addition, with the emerging psycho social trends in the workplace, and the ongoing labor shortage crisis, it’s no wonder that companies need to fully equip themselves for what lies ahead in 2016.
To assist construction companies with addressing some of the most prevalent workplace concerns that will impact safety in this New Year, below are four key trends that organizations need to factor into their risk management strategies.
Opioid addiction. The CDC just released a report showing that opioids drove the upward trend in overdose deaths from 2000 to 2014, when nearly half a million Americans died from drug overdoses. Moreover, adding to this concern is how pain killer addiction is being driven by the tremendous amount of workers’ compensation injury claims hitting the system each year. This is why it’s essential for organizations to take on even more prevention programs in 2016 to stop the addiction cycle by preventing the injury from occurring in the first place.
Simple prevention solutions like worksite evaluations, on-the-job fitness solutions, functional job analysis and on-site ergonomics training can significantly reduce workplace injuries, and break the addiction cycle from starting. Moreover, it’s important to remember that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is especially significant if you consider that doing a $165 pre-work screen on a candidate is a small prevention investment, as compared to having to pay a $50,000 medical bill for an injured worker, or even paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in ongoing disability costs if the worker never returns to the workplace
Psycho-social, depression, and obesity. It is very common for organizations to address psycho-social issues after an employee is depressed about being injured. However, in 2016, it will be even more imperative for employers to identify workers who bring depression and other social impact issues on the job day-to-day, before an incident occurs.
If an employee is dealing with depression, experiencing marital issues, or just lost a loved one, this could impact their mental performance on the job, even if they’ve been doing the same job for years. In fact, studies show that in a given year, 18.8 million American adults (9.5 percent of the adult population) will suffer from a depressive illness. Moreover, depression is a major cause of absenteeism, lack of presenteeism, and productivity loss among working-age adults. That’s why it’s critical for managers to identify these issues early on and to offer solutions that will help employees to coupe with their issues so that they don’t impact the workplace or escalate into a claim.
In addition, since obesity is now actually covered under workers’ compensation, if an employee is challenged with obesity, and their obesity is impacting their job performance, it’s important for employers to offer fitness and wellness solutions to help the employee on their journey to recovery.
Predictive analytics and big data. In 2016, we will start to see even more of a shift towards organizations using big data and predictive analytics to help injured workers return to work more efficiently. Predictive analytics (PA) uses technology and statistical methods to search through massive amounts of information, analyzing it to predict outcomes for individual patients. That information can include data from past treatment outcomes, information on pre-injury conditions, insights on an individual’s anticipated reaction to prescription drugs based on their bio makeup, and even determine the likelihood of diseases, helping physicians to predict future wellness.
Temp and contractor liabilities. In 2016, it’s imperative for companies to start investing in workplace safety and prevention solutions for their temp and contract employees. Some companies may not be aware of the fact that they now need to be prepared to take on workers’ compensation costs for their independent contractors in addition to their permanent employees since the National Labor Relations Board now views temporary workers to be essentially the same as regular employees. With this in mind, it’s critical that organizations take more time on the front end to ensure they are hiring the right contractors to fill positions and to train them on the right way to perform job duties.
WHAT’S TO COME
By understanding these current trends and deploying solutions to address these concerns, construction companies will be better equipped at mitigating liabilities and risks. The good news is, there will be new and innovative solutions launching that will help organizations to address these pressing concerns this year, and in the years to come. ■
For More Information: Canterbury Healthcare is launching unique, powerful solutions that reduce your medical spend in workers’ comp. To learn more, call 858.304.3120, or visit www.canterburyhc.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions – January 2016
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