WorkNEWS October 2012 – Neck and Shoulder Pain

WorkSTEPS Founder and CEO Larry Feeler on Neck and Shoulder Pain

Neck and shoulder pain are common because the head weighs 20-25 lbs and we typically maintain an upright posture for over 16 hours per day!! If you play or work at a computer or sit more than a couple of hours per day, you are MORE likely to hold the head in front of your spine, stressing the joints and ligaments. If you have ever been injured and torn muscles or ligaments in the neck, you are more susceptible to chronic pain than someone who hasn’t, AND as you age, the discs of the neck (the shock absorbers) between each vertebrae become more like a dry sponge rather than a wet one and the joints then have to bear more weight and become arthritic.

Neck-shoulder tension is a MAJOR reason patients seek chiropractic care and or are referred to physical therapy. Chiropractors pop and/or push on the neck to manipulate the vertebra and help relieve tension, and if patients feel better and get relief, such treatment is appropriate. If patients later experience different symptoms – especially arm pain – such treatment is NOT recommended. Physical therapists are the rehabilitation specialists whose expertise patients should seek for neck conditions. Therapists do not typically do forceful manipulations, instead focusing on muscle spasms and decreased neck motion. Physical therapists often also specifically mobilize segments that are limiting motion. Therapists equip patients with the knowledge of how to mobilize themselves and work on condition at home. Both professions SHOULD teach postural exercises that increase blood flow to those painful shoulder areas and keep that 25 pounds centered over the spine instead of in front where it causes extreme stress that can even affect the nerves in the neck.

WorkNEWS October 2012 – Self Insured Leakage Costs

16 Ways Leakage is Costing the Self Insured

Published By ReduceYourWorkersComp – Author: Rebecca Shafer, JD

The failure by the self insured’s third party administrator (TPA) or in-house staff adjusters to comply with workers’ compensation claim handling Best Practices normally results in higher than necessary claim cost. Just like in any other business, the failure to manage the cost of doing business – known as leakage – places the self-insured employer at a disadvantage in the market place. To recover the excess cost of poor claims handling, the company must raise the amount they charge for their products or services to cover the additional cost.

Leakage in an insurance claim is any payment on the claim that is more than it should be. Leakage is normally defined as the difference between what the claims adjuster spent and the amount he/she should have spent. Leakage has also been defined as the lost opportunity to save money on the claim. In essence, leakage is excess and unnecessary claim costs.
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WorkNEWS October 2012 – Adverse Impact Article

Adverse Impact on Co-Workers of a Requested Accommodation under ADA Relevant in Determining Essential Functions

Posted on September 23, 2012 by Michael Soltis

We posted recently about an Eighth Circuit decision in which the court held that rotating shifts was an essential function because “[i]f [plaintiff] were switched to a straight day shift and not required to work the rotating shift, then other Resource Coordinators would have to work more night and weekend shifts.”

Another court has now held that the impact of an employee’s requested accommodation on co-workers is a factor in determining the essential functions of a position.  In EEOC v. Ford Motor Company (E.D. Mo. Sept. 10, 2012), the EEOC argued that “regular attendance was not an essential function” of the plaintiff’s buyer position because she could have performed her job duties at home up to four days per week as an accommodation for her medical condition.  In rejecting that argument and granting summary judgment to the employer, the court held that regular attendance was an essential function of the position, in part because plaintiff’s “frequent unpredictable absences negatively affected her performance and increased the workload of her colleagues.”

These two cases suggest an employer should consider raising the “adverse impact on co-workers” of a requested accommodation at both the “essential functions” and “reasonable accommodation” stages of the “qualified individual” analysis.

This case also has helpful analysis on telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation. It cites numerous decisions in support of its conclusion that “in general, courts have found that working at home is rarely a reasonable accommodation”….and that this case did not present “the exceptional case where a work-at-home accommodation would be reasonable.” (emphasis added).

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