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.

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.

Don’t Sleep on a Concussion

Summer fun began and left! For some parents, that means the start of a new school year and a new active schedule, especially if you have a child in sports. It is ideal to want to keep your kids active in and outside of school, given, that playing a sport or being active can be exceedingly rewarding to you or your child’s social, mental, and physical health. As a parent to a new or developing athlete, these are the stages where monitoring your child’s physical health should increase. Unfortunately, with physical activity come injuries, commonly, concussions. With early detection, the likelihood of a shortened recovery time and an opportunity to a swift release back to full participation is abundant.

What is a concussion?

In a Forbes News article, Dr. A. Chainey Umphrey, concussion expert practicing at Kaiser Permanente’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in San Jose, briefs, “…a concussion is caused by a blow or jolt to the head or body that disrupts the function of the brain.” Dr. Umphrey extends, “that initial symptoms often appear quite mild but can lead to significant and lifelong impairment.”

Concussions are not to take lightly, statistics pulled from the UPMC Sports Medicine Program showed:

  • Unreported or undetected concussions are 5 of 10
  • High-school athletes participating in a contact sport — this year 2 of 10 will endure a concussion

Possible Symptoms

Levels of a concussion vary from the person and how it may develop. Others may notice symptoms immediately or, even, weeks or months later. The Mayo Clinic addresses common concussion symptoms to be aware of during and after a sporting event, some include:

  • Slow to rise after fall
  • Dizziness
  • Light and noise sensitivity
  • Confusion with memory
  • Unstable first few steps after a collision
  • Wandering in the wrong direction or team
  • Needing a constant reminder for things or instructions
  • Change in the mood
  • Challenging to focus

If you or your child notice or mention developing signs of a concussion, always inform a coach, personal trainers, or physician right away. It is valuable to know the symptoms of injuries, not just for self, but for your loved ones or anyone you may know who is involved in any type of physical activity. A parent’s favorite motto, “safety first” and that’s for all aspects of your life.

Staph Infection Prevention

Staph is not the worst infection, but it is a common and unpleasant one to develop. Staph can be easily spread amongst patients and employees in and between hospitals, clinics, and other health care facilities.

Risks

Staph infection comes from the bacteria strand, staphylococcus. Staph is an infection that affects the skin; the majority of the times it causes no severe problems and is considered a minor condition. It was documented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “more than 119,000 bloodstream staph infections occurred in 2017”. So, it is still important to seek treatment when the first symptoms are noticed. When staph is developed over time, it could result in severe complications once the infection penetrates deeper into your body.

Common symptoms vary from skin rashes, redness, or blisters on the skin. As infection prolongs, you may develop fevers, chills, diarrhea or even vomiting.

Treatment for staph is by doctor prescribed antibiotics.

Prevention. If you ever had a Staph infection, reoccurrences, or never want to experience it, here are some helpful prevention tips to practice.

  1. Clean hands at all times. Wash hands before eating, after using the restroom, and keep hand-sanitizer with you or at your desk.
  2. Keep open wounds clean, dry, and covered to prevent spreading infections to others and to other parts of your body.
  3. Try not to share. To prevent germ exchange, avoid sharing food, drinks, and any personal items.
  4. Clean your linen and towels in warm to hot water to kill germs.
  5. For health care facilities, CDC encourages practice in keeping all medical devices sterile before placing them into patients’ bodies.
  6. Contact precautions include proper disposal and renewing of patient-care equipment and protective wear—gloves and gowns.
  7. Make a habit of disinfecting your home, workplace, or any rooms you encounter.

Implementing a Culture of Safety in the Workplace

Creating and maintaining a safe work environment should be a high priority for organizations. Implementing and maintaining a safety program in your work environment can be daunting, but it is absolutely necessary. These programs are designed to make employees aware of what is going on around them in their work environment to keep them safe and healthy.

A safe workplace helps to minimize sick leaves and absenteeism, reduce the costs of injury and worker’s compensation, maximize productivity, and most importantly meet legal responsibilities and employee obligations. Below are important steps to take in order to ensure a safe workplace and promote a strong safety culture.

  • Provide visual aids. Areas, where dangerous equipment is stored, should be clearly labeled and the walkways should be highlighted with necessary signs.
  • Make sure that all employees are properly trained. The organization must provide all workers with safety training using the language they can understand. This training should be given to all new employees, with refresher courses required for existing workers or when workers switch positions within the company.
  • Ensure employees have the proper equipment. When worn correctly, protective gear can dramatically decrease your risk of injury.
  • Host monthly safety meetings. Establish a workplace health and safety committee made up of employees from different departments. The committee should meet at least once a month and keep employees and senior management informed about safety topics, inspections, injury and illness statistics, and other safety-related issues.
  • Implement emergency procedures.
  • Make new employees understand workplace risks. They need to be aware of possible general risks (fire, flood, or other natural disasters), risks that are specific to their position in the company, and a plan of action in case of an emergency.
  • Take regular breaks. Staying alert will help prevent an injury or other health conditions. Instead of scheduling more strenuous tasks in the middle of the day, do them first thing in the morning (if possible) when you are the most alert.
  • Address any concerns with your employer or Human Resources department. They need to be informed of any hazards or risks and are legally obligated to provide a safe working environment.
  • Instead of trying to lift a heavy object yourself, use mechanical aids when needed. Don’t overexert yourself.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Every job has imminent dangers, whether you are working at a place that has heavy machinery or even tripping over small items in your office. The best way to be safe is to know what’s going on around you. The more familiar you are with your settings, the more aware you’ll be of the potential hazards. Knowing your surroundings and being aware of potential hazards will help you and your colleagues avoid dangerous situations.
  • Keep emergency exits clear. Never, under any circumstance, place any object in front of an emergency exit, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Ensure that the pathway to the emergency shutoff is clear in the case that something needs to be powered down immediately.

If you believe working conditions are unsafe or unhealthy, you may file a confidential complaint with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and ask for an inspection. If possible, bring the conditions to your employer’s attention.

As regulated by OSHA and under federal law, you are entitled to a safe workplace. Your employer must provide a workplace free of unknown health and safety hazards. If you are concerned, you have the right to speak up without fear of retaliation.

 

Written by Dami Falade

Pollution and its Long-Term Effect on the Body

Pollution from the environment may be making you sick! Air pollution is difficult to escape. Most air pollution is caused by people – in the form of cars, planes, wildfires, cigarette smoke, or even using a wood stove to cook.

Air pollution is a mixture of natural and artificial sources in the air we breathe. Outdoor air pollution includes tobacco smoke and gases such as sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide. Indoor air pollution can include tobacco smoke and carbon monoxide as well, but also include chemicals from household cleaning products and asbestos.

High levels of air pollution can cause added stress to the heart and lungs and can damage cells in the respiratory system. The impact of how bad you can be affected by air pollution depends heavily on your current health status, the pollutant type, and how long you are exposed to air pollution.

Those who are more vulnerable to severe health problems as a result of air pollution are individuals who have heart disease, individuals who work outside, athletes who exercise outside, and pregnant women. Short-term effects of air pollution include temporary illnesses such as pneumonia or bronchitis.  People who develop these illnesses often have headaches, illnesses, and irritation to the nose, eyes, skin, or throat.

Long-term effects of air pollution can last for years or even for an entire lifetime. Long term effects of air pollution can cause heart disease, lung cancer, and diseases that directly affect the respiratory system, such as emphysema.

Indoor air pollution can be lessened by making sure that a building is cleaned on a regular basis and well ventilated, in order to prevent harmful agents such as dust and mold from spreading. Try to reduce outdoor air pollution by taking public transportation or riding a bike instead of driving a car, avoiding heavy traffic if possible, avoiding secondhand smoke from cigarettes, or even cutting down if you are someone who does smoke cigarettes. If you feel that you are experiencing serious symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pains, you need to seek medical attention immediately.

 

Written by Dami Falade

All about Asbestos

Asbestos is a mineral substance that can be pulled so that it has a fluffy consistency. Asbestos fibers are soft and flexible, yet resistant to heat, electricity, and chemical corrosion. Asbestos works really well being used as an insulator, and can be mixed into cloth, paper, plastic, and other materials to make it stronger. These characteristics make asbestos very useful, however, asbestos is still very toxic.

Materials that contain asbestos are not considered to be harmful unless they are released into the air.

The most common way for asbestos fibers to enter the body is through breathing. Asbestos fibers are very difficult to be obliterated – once it is entered into the body, it remains there, where it can cause diseases. The most common diseases that are associated with asbestos exposure include lung cancer and mesothelioma. Inhaled asbestos fibers can irritate lung tissues, which can cause the tissues to scar. Continued exposure to asbestos can also cause shortness of breath and stiffness of the lungs.

Ceiling tiles, floor tiles, and cabinet tops will not release asbestos fibers unless they were disturbed or damaged in any way. Damage and deterioration will increase the friability (ability to be easily crumbled or broken down) of asbestos-containing materials. Water damage and physical impact such as drilling or sawing can easily cause the materials to release the fibers.

Individuals are more susceptible to asbestos related disorders if they are exposed to high concentrations of asbestos, if they are exposed to longer periods of times, and/or if they are exposed to asbestos more frequently. The World Health Organization has reported that around 125 million people are exposed to asbestos every year.

As dangerous as asbestos can be, it is not always a cause for concern. Asbestos can be maintained utilizing techniques such as encapsulation, which involves applying a thick layer of latex paint to the surface, which in turn keeps the material together and prevents harmful fibers from being released. If situations where asbestos is being used are unavoidable, it is important to wear a face mask in order to protect your respiratory system.

 

Written by Dami Falade