Worker Safety While Lifting

Injuries related to lifting continue to be a leading occupational health and safety issue. According to the Occupation Safety and Health Administration, more than one-third of all work-related injuries involve harm to the shoulder and or back that often results from heavy lifting. Injuries caused as a result of lifting include sprains, strains, neural related, neuromuscular related injuries and bone-related injuries; each can affect any part of the body although the majority occurs on the lower back.

Because most jobs involve some form of lifting most workers are at risk of injury. Training employees on proper lifting procedures and techniques is critical in preventing painful and expensive injuries in the workplace. It takes a full understanding of potential hazards and habits needed to make good lifting decisions every time. Also implementing consistent coaching on safe lifting and handling techniques for employees whose jobs involve continuous lifting for an extended period of time on a day to day is beneficial in maintaining the proper skills required.

It is the employer’s responsibility for providing a safe workplace for their employees. Enforcing safe lifting practices and taking the time to listen and encourage employees to voice their concerns on any potential hazards that they may have spotted in their workplace can substantially reduce the chances of an injury.

Following are a few key steps of safe lifting and handling:

  • Use pallet jacks and hand trucks to transport heavy items.
  • Move items close to your body and use your legs when lifting an item from a low location
  • Avoid twisting, especially when bending forward while lifting. Turn by moving the feet rather than twisting the torso
  • Keep your elbows close to your body and keep the load as close to your body as possible
  • Keep the vertical distance of lifts between mid-thigh and shoulder height. Do not start a lift below mid-thigh height nor end the lift above shoulder height. Lifting from below waist height puts stress on legs, knees, and back. Lifting above shoulder height puts stress on the upper back, shoulders, and arm
  • Rotate tasks so employees are not exposed to the same activity for too long
  • Take regular breaks and break tasks into shorter segments. This will give muscles adequate time to rest. Working through breaks increases the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), accidents, and reduces the quality of work because employees are over fatigued.

Strengthening muscles in the back and supporting muscles and maintaining proper posture will also help prevent injuries and back disorders. A list of five easy lower back stretches and workouts to increase back strength and prevent injury can be found on the NOVA website.

Nova Medical Centers provides the highest level of healthcare to patients suffering from musculoskeletal injuries. With a sole focus on occupational health, we pride ourselves in delivering exceptional services and helping our clients prioritize their health and safety needs. Contact us for more information about any of our services. Our skilled and friendly staff members are ready to meet all your occupational health needs.

Protecting your Employees: Benefits of 100% Occupational Health Facility

Occupational healthcare refers to the branch of medicine that is dedicated to employee health, safety and welfare issues in the workplace. The aim of occupational healthcare is employee education, injury prevention and to return injured employees to work.  Services include pre-employment screenings, work-related injury care, physical therapy, drug testing and more.

Occupational healthcare facilities reduce the high cost of obtaining work-related medical services compared to urgent care facilities by providing onsite or easy access to injury treatment.  Nova Medical Centers specialize solely in occupational healthcare.  As a result, Nova Centers are not open to the general public and only provide services to employers and their employees.  This is a vital part of why Nova Medical Centers’ patients return to work faster, healthier and stronger with optimal results. With little to no wait times, patients are met with medical providers that receive specialized training and are dedicated to providing tailored medical solutions that are distinct to each injured employee’s working conditions.

With the importance of teamwork in mind, Nova Medical Centers offers real-time web-based communication through its proprietary electronic medical records system, Occuflex, which allows clients to remain up to date with injury treatment status and pre-employment testing results.  Furthermore, through physician tele-triage, clients have access to licensed physicians 24/7 who can safely and effectively asses and recommend treatment direction for injured employees with a simple phone call. Patients recovering from work-related injuries are provided with free transportation to assist in returning them to optimal function in the shortest time possible.  Last but not least, Nova Medical Centers’ physicians are experts in ADA, DOT, NIOSH, OSHA and state regulations that govern the occupational healthcare industry and work personally with employers to guide them through the required workers’ compensation claim paperwork.

At Nova Medical Centers we specialize in Occupational Health. From our outstanding services to our convenient electronic systems, we provide the best care for employees who need our help. We pride ourselves on helping others.  Click here to read testimonials on our loyal clients and their experience. We have over 51 facilities across Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Indiana and we are constantly striving to provide the best care for America’s workforce.  Feel free to contact Nova Medical Centers with any questions or comments that you may have

4 Steps if an Employee has a Workplace Injury

An unexpected work injury not only affects the individual but also the employer. According to the National Safety Council, every 7 seconds a worker is injured in a job. These numbers are staggering and the worst part is that each one is preventable. The majority of those random incidents can happen to anyone at any time and no one person is exempt from the risk associated with workplace injuries. Once an injury occurs it may take weeks or even months to get the situation resolved or for the full recovery of the employee. The first 24 hours of an injury are the most crucial and being prepared is critical.

The first step, however, is to go take the injured employee to occupational medicine facilities which are facilities built specifically to treat employees who have been injured on the job. There plenty of benefits of occupational medicine facilities one being lower wait times than those at urgent care facilities where anyone is welcomed and the wait time times can skyrocket. At occupational medicine facilities, such as Nova Medical Centers, there are lower wait times, cater strictly to workplace injuries and also provide courtesy injury transportation to and from the workplace to the facility.

The second step is to investigate the incident, how and why the accident happened? To simply conclude that it was the irresponsibility of the employee or because of failure to follow procedure was the reason the incident happened would be a big mistake. In doing so the company fails to discover the root cause of the incident or any systematic changes that need to be made in order to prevent future incidents. Visit the scene, look for clues, take notes, and ask thorough questions to any witnesses about the incident.

The third step is reporting the injury. Every state has different workers’ compensation laws it is important to know what paperwork and reporting you’re required to do by law or if there any relevant deadlines. Certain forms and insurance policy requirements may have deadlines. Read our blog for a general guideline on how to report a work-related injury. The insurance company will need to know about the injury as soon as possible to be able to make timely payments and also launch an investigation of their own.

The fourth step is communication with the employee making sure that they receive the proper care that they need and also benefits that they are entitled to. Making sure the employee feels cared for and not abandoned but instead feels as a top priority may be the difference of a speedy recovery.

NOVA Medical Centers specializes solely in Occupational Health. From our friendly staff to our superb services, we tailor our care to every single patient. Our clients speak highly of our speedy recovery, short wait times and friendly staff. Click here to read testimonials on our loyal clients and their experience with NOVA medical centers. With over 50 facilities across Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Indiana, NOVA strives to provide the best care for America’s workforce.

Coronavirus and Employer Obligations

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause respiratory illness in people. Coronaviruses circulate among animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

As headlines continue to emerge every day on the spread of the 2019 coronavirus outbreak, employers are struggling to determine how to respond. The respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, China in late 2019 has recently spread to the United States and is growing worldwide. The first confirmed case in the United States was reported on January 21, 2020, following person-person spread with the virus on January 30, 2020.

In addition, China has also reported the spread of the virus from infected patients to healthcare workers. Every employer should evaluate the risks and analyze their defenses against worker exposure. Companies are also advised to avoid all non-essential traveling to China. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that exposure risk may be elevated for some workers who interact with potentially infected travelers abroad including those involved in:

  • healthcare,
  • airline employees and border protection,
  • solid waste and wastewater management
  • laboratories
  • death care

There is still much more to uncover about the symptoms and essentially how the transfer to person to person occurs. Current cases have ranged from mild symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath to rather severe cases causing death. Symptoms appear in as few as 2 to 14 days after exposure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spread from person to person most likely occurs among close contact of about 6 feet. Person-person transfer is thought to be airborne as a result of respiratory droplets that occur when an infected person coughs or sneezes near another which then lands in the mouths or noses of those nearby or possibly inhaled into the lungs.

The CDC and OSHA have provided general guidance for all workers and individuals regardless of specific exposure risk. Below are a few practices you can implement to decrease exposure to coronavirus:

  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When soap and running water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands that are visibly soiled
  • Make hand sanitizers available to employees.
  • Encourage sick employees to stay at home. Be flexible with sick leave.
  • Collaborate with your temp and contractor firms to do the same.
  • Require employees to notify you if they are infected or exposed.
  • Respect changes to and limits on travel. Follow U.S. government travel advisories due to the coronavirus. Encourage video-conferencing and other tools instead.
  • Develop or update an infectious disease outbreak response plan (see CDC web site), which details how you will deal with exposed workers and infected workers and contaminated workplaces.
  • In the case of workplace exposure, determine which people and areas were exposed. Send affected employees to medical care or home. Take appropriate steps to decontaminate the environment. Follow OSHA standards on personal protective equipment, respiratory protection, bloodborne pathogens, hazard communications, and related issues.

It is important to educate and spread awareness on the best safety practices between the workforce and the general public. Knowing the risks and hazards and consistently applying the provided procedures will further decrease exposure to the coronavirus.

What to Expect with OSHA in 2020

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) created by Congress to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance. Whether an employee or employer it is vital to keep up with all the rules and regulations.

On January 15, 2020, The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) increased the maximum allowable penalty amounts for OSHA violations in federally-mandated states. The civic penalties increased by approximately 1.8 percent causing companies to use the abatement process (correction of the safety or health hazard/ violation that led to an OSHA citation) to decrease their charges.

OSHA’s penalty increases for workplace safety and health violations include the following:

  • A willful violation, in which an employer knowingly failed to comply with an OSHA standard or demonstrated a plain indifference for employee safety, the minimum penalty increases from $9,472 to $9,639 and the maximum penalty increases from $132,598 to $134,937;
  • Serious violations for workplace hazards that could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm, the maximum penalty increases from $13,260 to $13,494;
  • Repeated violation or substantially similar violation previously cited by the agency, the penalty ceiling rises from $132,598 to $134,937
  • Posting requirement violation, the maximum penalty increases from $13,260 to $13,494.
  • Failure to correct the violation, the maximum penalty increases from $13,260 to $13,494

The new OSHA penalty amounts are applicable to OSHA citations issued after January 15, 2020, for violations occurring after July 15, 2019.

However, OSHA stated that its free on-site consultation program identified 137,885 workplace hazards and as a result protected 3.2 million workers from potential harm. OSHA is seeking to revise regulations due to evolving technologies and aim to develop regulations in order to be in line with present-day consensus standards. Compliance with OSHA’s rules and regulations is essential for a safe working environment.

At Nova Medical Centers we specialize in Occupational Health. From our outstanding services to our convenient electronic systems, we provide the best care for employees who need our help. We pride ourselves in helping others.  If you happen to get injured on the job or contract any illnesses, just stop by one of our clinics. We have over 50 facilities across Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Indiana and we are constantly striving to provide the best care for America’s workforce.  Feel free to contact Nova Medical Centers with any questions or comments that you may have.

New FMCSA Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse Operational January 6

The new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse will be operational as of January 6, 2020.   The Clearinghouse is a secure online database that will give employers, the FMCSA, State Driver Licensing Agencies, and State law enforcement personnel real-time information about commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders’ drug and alcohol program violations.

Beginning January 6, 2020, employers, or their designated consortium/third party administrators (C/TPAs), will be required to conduct queries to determine whether their current and prospective employees are prohibited from performing in safety-sensitive job positions, such as operating commercial motor vehicles, due to unresolved drug and alcohol program violations.

Employers are responsible for reporting their employee DOT drug testing results to the Clearinghouse, either directly or through a C/TPA.  

Nova Medical Centers is not a C/TPA and does not report testing results to the Clearinghouse.

General DOT Query FAQs

When are employers required to query the DOT Clearinghouse?
Employers are required to make a pre-employment query for each driver in the Clearinghouse and at least one query each year for each driver during employment. The type of query required is further described in the table below.

Is there a reason to query the Clearinghouse more than as required?
Some drivers are employed by more than one carrier. If another employer your driver works for reports a violation to the Clearinghouse, you will not want to wait until their annual query to obtain this information, or you may be liable for allowing a driver to operate in a safety-sensitive position despite his/her ineligibility to do so.

What information will employers need to query specific drivers in the Clearinghouse?
Employers will need to have the driver’s CDL number and state proof of issuance to query the driver’s Clearinghouse record.

Can the employer query multiple drivers at once with batch uploads?
Yes. The employer or the C/TPA will upload a tab-delimited file containing the following information for each driver that will be queried:

  • Last Name
  • First Name
  • Date of Birth
  • CDL
  • Country
  • State
  • A Number 1-4 Representing Query Type: 1) Limited; 2)  Full; 3) Pre-employment; 4) Limited with Automatic Consent Request.

Automatic Consent Request means that, if a limited query returns that the driver has violation information in his/her Clearinghouse record, the Clearinghouse will automatically submit a request from your employer to that driver for his/her consent to a full query.

Do employers still need to query past employers for drug and alcohol violations occurring in the three years before January 6, 2020?

Yes. Only violations occurring after January 6, 2020, will be available in the Clearinghouse, so employers will need to conduct traditional verifications with their drivers’ past DOT-regulated employers in addition to querying the Clearinghouse until January 2023.

What is the cost charged by the FMCSA for queries?
Employers will be charged a fee by the FMCSA for full and limited queries of $1.25 per query (plus any services costs incurred by using a C/TPA). Queries must be purchased in batches, and these will never expire.

Unlimited packages are also available for high-volume employers. Unlimited packages cost $24,000 and must be renewed annually.

Employers must purchase queries directly from the Clearinghouse, as C/TPAs are unable to purchase queries for their customers.

Can drivers dispute information on their Clearinghouse records?
Disputes will be handled by the FMCSA, which will notify drivers of its decision within 14 days if the record in question is prohibiting the driver from performing safety-sensitive job functions or within 45 days if it is not.

FMCSA will notify any employers that have viewed a record that has been changed after the outcome of their review.

When must employers make limited vs. full queries?
Limited Queries
Must conduct a limited or full query at least once every year for all drivers.

Full Queries
An employer must conduct a pre-employment query for a prospective driver in the Clearinghouse prior to hiring the driver for a position requiring him or her to perform safety-sensitive functions, such as operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).

Must conduct a full query if a limited query returns any results.

What information will employers receive?
Limited Queries
Notification about whether the driver’s Clearinghouse record has any information about resolved or unresolved drug and alcohol program violations

It does not provide specific information about violations.

Full Queries
Detailed information about any drug and alcohol program violations in a driver’s Clearinghouse record.

Next Steps

To find out more information about the Clearinghouse or to register, please visit https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/

If you have any questions, please fill out a contact form with the subject “Questions about the new Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse” or call us toll-free at 1-866-480-1310.

Game Changing Technology Upgrade to Occuflex

Nova Medical Centers solidifies the lead in occupational health industry with game changing update to our proprietary electronic medical record system, Occuflex.  Our innovative technology will now allow clients to track real-time progress of employee visits and also have access to medical records, results, and progress all from one centralized dashboard. Before the launch of Occuflex update, online reporting was limited. Electronic medical records make communicating with physicians and medical staff faster and more convenient. The system update was designed to improve operation in 3 areas:

Online Reporting – Through Occuflex, clients now have full access to comprehensive reporting of all services.  Previous versions allowed for limited reporting of patient/employee information.  Fast forward to today… no more chasing information or paperwork.  With the latest tech upgrade, everything is available on the same day of service in one, easy-to-use online portal!

Same Day Results* – Waiting days for results is a thing of the past. Clients are able to see updates in real-time through a secure dashboard with a single consolidated view of their claims instantly after completion. Treatment updates on dashboard are color-coded for easier maneuvering. Faster decisions about employees returning to work can be made with same day results.

Speed of Service – Occuflex now makes it effortless to update the progress of visit from the moment patient arrives until they walk out the door. Departments are able to communicate efficiently and less time is wasted.  Completed DOT cards, physicals, drug test results, ADA compliant physical performance evaluation, and injury reports will all be updated in the system as soon as they are completed.

Occuflex enhances the experience of every participant involved in the visitation of an injured employee. From tracking a visit to receiving results, Occuflex gives clients access to medical records at their discretion. Comprehensive, full reporting of all medical records are available at their fingertips.  For more information and for an informative video, visit n-o-v-a.com/gamechanger.

At Nova Medical Centers, we aim to be the best in the industry and are willing to do what it takes to get there. We pride ourselves in our exceptional services and ability to offer our exclusive medical record system, Occuflex.  Contact Us for more information about Occuflex or any of our other service. Our team of experts and friendly staff are here to assist with all your occupational health needs.

Written by Nayda Sanchez

*Some results may take longer due to the type of service or test needed.  Ask a Nova Medical Centers representative for details.

National Physical Therapy Month

Physical therapy plays a critical role in the recovery process of patients who have experienced injury or deformity. Both physicians and patients who have participated in physical therapy know that it is more than just treatment. It is a journey of transformation. American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) established National Physical Therapy Month (NPTM) in 1981 to raise awareness of the life changing benefits it offers to patients. Here are some key facts about National Physical Therapy Month:

  • National Physical Therapy Month is celebrated in October
  • Every year, APTA selects a theme such as lower back pain, posture, balance, fitness and obesity, to be the main focus. This year’s focus is on the #ChoosePT campaign which encourages physical therapist to tout the benefit of choosing physical therapy in lieu of opioid medication
  • A “Day of Service” is designated to give physical therapists an opportunity to engage their communities in activities to promote healthy lifestyles and to spread awareness of the importance of physical therapy
  • Many clinics offer free posture screenings, balance assessments or fun runs
  • 50 Chapter Challenge, Neighborhood blood drives, photo contests, and Miracles Baseball Leagues are some events organized by APTA to make it easier for physicians to get involved during NPTM

Physical therapists deserve recognition for their hard work and dedication to empowering patients to take control of their treatment plans and recovery progress. National Physical Therapy Months allows physicians to spread awareness of the benefits of physical therapy while receiving the appreciation they undeniably earned.

At Nova Medical Centers, our team of highly skilled licensed physical therapy staff is committed to providing the most current treatment to patients. Our program provides one-on-one patient care, which means patients do not share their individual therapy time with multiple patients. We pride ourselves in leading the occupational health industry. Contact us  today for more information about our physical therapy program or any other of our services.

Employment Drug Testing

Drug testing promotes positive work culture

 According to a survey conducted by the Society of Human Resources, 57% of employers implement drug testing to determine if employees or job applicants are using drugs. Employers overlook drug testing because it’s not required by the state they are operating in, it’s too costly or they believe it’s not a viable investment. However, the benefits can be impactful.  Listed below are significant benefits of drug testing:

  • Creating a drug-free environment builds a safe workplace. Performing job functions while under the influence makes it more dangerous for employees and their colleagues. Using heavy equipment or driving a truck requires an employee to be alert; being under the influence will increase the likelihood of injury.
  • Drug screenings in companies has led to an increase of productivity within their employees. Drug problems can cause an individual to lose focus of their responsibilities and their commitment to their employer. Being absent and lack of punctuality are linked to drug use. Eliminating drugs from the equation helps shape a goal-oriented, productive atmosphere.
  • Employers may be eligible for discounts on workers compensation insurance for maintaining a drug-free work place by drug testing workers
  • Drug testing encourages a healthier lifestyle not only at the workplace, but also in employee’s personal lives.

Drug testing can lead to impactful company cultural changes. It is a representation of the restriction of drug use at the workplace and a great way to showcase company culture even before an employee is hired.  Reliable colleagues, motivating leaders, and a supportive learning environment are all desirable characteristics for job seekers.  Implementing a drug-free workplace shows employees that you not only care about their success, but their overall health. It is a key component in protecting the safety, health and welfare of employees.

At Nova Medical Centers  our teams of medical professionals specialize in ADA, DOT, NIOSH, OSHA and other state and regular federal regulations which govern the occupational medicine industry. Our sole focus on occupational health allows us to provide exceptional pre-employment services. We pride ourselves in tailoring our care to every single client. Contact us  today for more information about our pre-employment services.  Our friendly staff and team of experts are here to meet all of your occupational health needs.

Written by Nayda Sanchez

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