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

Overexposure to Computer Screen and Phones

We are living in a digital world now more than ever. Spending hours watching TV, books transformed into e-books, even abandoning debit cards and paying directly with our phones; digital devices are becoming more essential in our everyday lives. Everything around us, as a result, continues to get faster, smarter and overwhelmingly digital.

We have all the information we would ever need right at our fingertips. Constantly using our phones to mindlessly scroll on social media, texting, researching, also many of us have jobs that require us to stare at a computer screen hours at a time. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), 58 percent of adults have experienced digital eye strain or vision problems. Digital eye strain is the temporary discomfort that follows two or more hours of digital device use which as a result causes the eyes to work harder to focus on the small pixelated images that technology holds.

Symptoms associated with digital eye strain include:

  • headaches
  • dry eyes
  • blurred vision
  • eye discomfort
  • neck and shoulder pain.

In fact, the average U.S. workers spend seven hours a day on a computer, either in the office or working from home The mere use of digital devices is not only what affects our vision but also the way we use them. The American Optometric Association (AOA) recognizes the need to address this issue stating that, “as more people spend their days at work on a computer and their free time on handheld devices, doctors of optometry seeing more patients who are experiencing digital eye strain,” said Steven A.  Loomis, O.D., president of AOA.  Furthermore provided five simple steps that can relieve the problem:

  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Take a 20-second break, every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away.
  • Keep a distance: The AOA recommends sitting a comfortable distance from the computer monitor where you can easily read all text with your head and torso in an upright posture and you’re back supported by your chair. Generally, the preferred viewing distance is between 20 and 28 inches from the eye to the front surface of the screen.
  • View from a different angle: Ideally, the computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees, or about 4 to 5 inches, below eye level as measured from the center of the screen.
  • Decrease glare: While there is no way to completely minimize glare from light sources, consider using a glare filter. These filters decrease the amount of light reflected from the screen.
  • Blink often: Minimize your chances of developing dry eyes when using a computer by making an effort to blink frequently

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.

Practicing Good Hygiene in Your Work Environment

Maintaining a clean and safe workplace can lead to a more productive environment for everyone. The last thing employees or guests want to question is if the facility is clean or feeling too uncomfortable to be present.

Hygiene Tips for Work

  • Wash hands with soap in between meeting clients and patients. Wash hands after using the bathroom facilities, before and after preparing food or drinks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a minimum of 20 seconds for cleansing your hands to ensure germs are significantly removed.
  • When coughing, yawing, or sneezing cover your mouth and nose with a Kleenex or turn into the inside of your arm. This way you are keeping germs to yourself instead of spreading them through the air or your hands.
  • Wipes down workspace at best once daily; this includes the mouse, keyboard, phones, and surface areas.
  • Keep hand sanitizer at your desk. For other reasons, you are not always able to access soap and water; CDC advocates using hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Fresh breath. Since you are not at home to brush your teeth after meals, carry gum or travel size mouth wash with you.
  • Wash work clothes before wearing them again to get rid of any germs or dirt, even if it’s not visible. The National Health Service UK acknowledges clothes as being one of the most common ways germs are spread. Bacteria naturally come from our own body then onto our clothes which can easily spread to others from small actions such as brushing against an object, sitting close or near a coworker.
  • Practice keeping public shared areas clean and sanitary after each use—bathrooms, breakrooms, conference rooms.
  • Report any symptoms or illness to your employer.

Many companies have their own work hygiene policies for employees to abide by, but it is always good to refresh good practice tips every so often. You may consider putting up reminders in public areas such as the bathrooms, break rooms or even coordinate mini staff meetings. By positively reinforcing good hygiene, you can mold employees into developing thoughtless cleanly habits.

Survival Guide: Night-Shift

For those of us that workdays, you can almost feel the sleepiness when thinking about taking on a night-shift. Though this particular shift may be challenging, there can be benefits. Here are some solutions that will encourage you to adjust and embrace it.

Survival Tips 

  • Stick to a routine. By setting a daily schedule, you are aiding your mind and body into expecting and preparing for what’s to come for a long night shift. Over time as you stay consistent, your body will reduce in feeling sluggish or overworked.
  • Incorporate a healthy diet. University of Nottingham article adds, “We consume at least a third of our daily calories whilst at work…” Consider what we put into our body reflects our performance and health at work. Try eating meals that keep you full and restore your energy. Pack healthy easy snacks and drink a lot of water. Hydrated muscles are very important when you are on the go.
  • Exercise keeps you fit and physically prepared for your active shift. Exercising before your night- shift also influences a positive mind, allows you to feel more alert and awake. The Mayo Clinic supports a daily exercise routine prior to work and suggests you intake “both carbohydrates and protein within two hours of exercise” for muscle recovery and to avoid fatigue.
  • Take your scheduled naps. If allowed, take advantage of your time to sleep. It is important not to burn your body out from exhaustion as it can affect your work performance. The National Sleep Foundation encourages employers to “nap strategically”. For night shift workers try breaking up your sleep in two’s, meaning sleep at home after work and again before you go back in. In doing this, you will be able to meet your essential hours of sleep. 
  • Build relationships with co-workers. Healthy friendly relationships can be beneficial as you can seek work advice, emotional support and a more exciting boost to going to work. 
  • Set small goals throughout the day. Goals are important because they can increase your work productivity and allow your shifts to feel swifter. By setting and achieving small goals, you’re more focused and excited about your work accomplishments than dwelling over the duration of your shift.

In reality, give yourself time to adjust to your new overnight position. Everyone’s body and way of coping are going to be different. It may take various trials and errors to figure out what works best for your body and mental wellness.

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.