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MN Occupational Health

Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome a Workplace Injury?

By | Blog Article

Carpal tunnel syndrome might be the best-known of all office health issues. So many people spend their days sitting at a computer and end up suffering from painful, frustrating aches and cramps. However, it is not always considered a work-related issue, so it is important to properly file your claim. After you file, your employer’s workers compensation claims managers are then tasked with accepting or declining the claim. They can either deny that the injury is work related or accept the claim as work-related. With some injuries the work-relatedness may be obvious, however with the symptoms of repetitive stress, causation and responsibility can be much more difficult.

Repetitive Stress Injuries Such As Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Repetitive stress injuries are not caused by a one time event but rather an accumulation of repetitive motions. Carpal tunnel happens when too much pressure is placed on the median nerve of the wrist. As this pressure continues over time, it can cause pain, tingling, and numbness. It can be treated by rest and anti-inflammatory medications, but sometimes surgery is necessary. Sometimes the effects of carpal tunnel syndrome are permanent, so employers are hesitant to accept those claims.

Is It Actually A Workplace Injury?

Unfortunately, there are competing medical studies about whether carpal tunnel syndrome is only a repetitive stress injury. In fact, there may be several potential causes of carpal tunnel syndrome. It is also related to hypothyroidism, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Work-relatedness and causation are determined on a case-by-case basis based upon the First Report of Injury, medical history, finding from the physical exam(s), other work and non-work activities and sometimes the review of other medical data in addition to the employee’s work tasks.

Having Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Prior To Employment

Any time that medical records are examined for a benefits claim, there should be a check of the employee’s history. If they have had carpal tunnel previously, that may hurt a claim. However, if it is shown that the job tasks aggravated a previous injury or condition, then it can still be successful. The employer will thoroughly investigate the history of the employee before agreeing to any claim of carpal tunnel being a new injury.

Providing Notice of the Injury

In most cases, a worker must provide notice in the form of a First Report of Injury to their employer regarding a work-related injury within a required period of time. However with repetitive stress injuries, this can be difficult since it is hard to know the actual date of injury. With these injuries, the last day the employee is at work can be considered the date of injury, since it is essentially the time the worker could no longer function at their job.

 

If you are a Minnesota worker who has been injured on the job, do not hesitate to contact Minnesota Occupational Health online, by phone or by visiting one of our Twin Cities locations. Our staff of physicians, many of whom are board certified in occupational medicine, offer years of experience and understanding in addressing work injuries.

What You Need to Know About Ladder Safety

By | Safety Guide

Every day, workers around the country get injured performing the very basic task of climbing up a ladder. It is an activity that may seem simple and safe, but people often do not use ladders as safely as they should, and it becomes a recipe for disaster. Estimates show that around 300 people die annually due to falling from ladders. A large percentage of those are people who are working when it happens. There may be any number of reasons to be up on a ladder while on the job, but there is no reason you shouldn’t be as safe as possible while you are. Here are some tips to keep safe while on a ladder on the job.

First off, make sure to follow any instructions and labels that come with the ladder. The manufacturer will obviously know best how to use the ladder safely, so it is best to follow their guidelines.

Next you should keep any materials that may cause you to slip away from a ladder. This  includes liquids, tools, or anything that might be lying around the site.

You should always have three points touching the ladder. That may been two hands and a foot, or one hand and two feet. This will help make sure that you are secure on the ladder and able to react if you were to lose your balance.

Sometimes it is not the climber or even a malfunctioning of the ladder that causes the fall. It may be another worker coming by and causing the accident. They may be carrying something that knocks someone off the ladder, or they might simply run into the ladder if they are not paying attention. Make sure to put up a barrier or some sort of notification to warn others.

Make sure the ladder is solid and secure on level ground. It may look straight, but if all the legs are not completely on the ground, you can cause it to tip when you put weight on it. If you feel a ladder wobbling, then get off of it immediately.

The OSHA also has regulations for ladder use, so make sure that you are familiar with them. Plan your work and use the right ladders and safety techniques, and you should be safe when using ladders at work.

If you are a Minnesota worker who has been injured on the job, do not hesitate to contact Minnesota Occupational Health online, by phone or by visiting one of our Twin Cities locations. Our staff of physicians, many of whom are board certified in occupational medicine, offer years of experience and understanding in addressing work injuries.

 

A Guide To Radon

By | Uncategorized

The winter is the perfect time to consider the dangerous effects of radon. Radon accumulates naturally and it can be dangerous to humans. When we’re outside more often in the summer months, it does not pose as big of a threat. However, if it accumulates inside of a building it is extremely harmful to human health. Here are some things to know about radon.

What Is Radon And Why Is It Dangerous?

Radon is a gas that occurs naturally from the deterioration of uranium in soil, water, and rock. It is radioactive, which means it is dangerous in large enough doses. It is invisible, scentless, and tasteless, so you will not even know you are inhaling it. Often, a home will get inundated with uranium from the soil under the basement. Other than cigarettes, there is nothing that causes more lung cancer, and kills 20,000 people every year.

The EPA says that any exposure carries with it the risk of lung cancer, so it’s vital to keep the radon level in your home as low as possible. A person will get more radiation from radon than from any other source, assuming they do not work with radioactive materials on a regular basis.

What To Do?

Since radon is most certainly a major health risk, it is a good idea to purchase a kit at your local hardware store to test the levels in your home. Place the tester on the lowest floor of your home to get the best readings. You can also hire a professional to check your levels. If your level is higher than 4 pCi/l, then it is elevated.

If you have high levels of radon, then you should call a professional immediately to deal with the problem. They will use a process called Active Soil Depressurization (ASD). This process will remove the radon from your home and prevent it from recurring. It involves using a pipe that runs through the floor of the basement and up through the roof. Strategically placed fans will push the radon out into the atmosphere where it will not cause any harm.

Radon is not something to be taken lightly, as it can kill you or your family. Make sure to have your home tested and if necessary, treated, to keep your family safe.

If you are a Minnesota worker who has been injured on the job, do not hesitate to contact Minnesota Occupational Health online, by phone or by visiting one of our Twin Cities locations. Our staff of physicians, many of whom are board certified in occupational medicine, offer years of experience and understanding in addressing work injuries.

Sleep Deficiency 101: Make Sure To Get Your Z’s

By | Blog Article

There are too many people out there who do not realize how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. Sixty years ago, the average american slept 7-8 hours a night. Now, 6 hours is the average. Sleep disorders are on the rise, which means workplace accidents related to insomnia and fatigue are on the rise as well. Shift work is also an issue, as those workers claim to be sleeping as little as 4 hours a day. Here is some more information about sleep and sleep deficiency that will inspire you to hit the hay a little earlier tonight.

Why Are We Sleeping Less?

There are a few reasons why we are sleeping less on average than in the past. Our work and home lives have drastically changed, making getting a quality sleep harder than ever. For one, Americans are working longer hours than in the past, which means there is less time outside of work to do the things we want and need to do, like spend time with family. Plus, we are constantly connected through our smartphones and devices, which means that some of us are never really “off” work, since we can be contacted at any time. This also means we are trying to fall asleep after essentially shining a beam of light into our faces right before bedtime.

Consequences

First of all, not getting enough sleep can be dangerous. Workplace accidents increase when workers are not properly rested. Every year, people are killed because they are fatigued at work. Employers lose up to $92 billion every year in lost productivity from tired employees.

How To Get More Sleep

There are several things an employer and employee can do to try to get more sleep. Employers should create an environment that values and encourages rest, such as having a nap room and encouraging staff to unplug after work hours. Employees should make sure they are getting to bed at a consistent time each night, and to try to do something other than stare at their phone before trying to sleep.

If everyone were to get more sleep, workplaces would be much safer, and would probably provide employees with a less cranky environment, too.

If you are a Minnesota worker who has been injured on the job, do not hesitate to contact Minnesota Occupational Health online, by phone or by visiting one of our Twin Cities locations. Our staff of physicians, many of whom are board certified in occupational medicine, offer years of experience and understanding in addressing work injuries.

A Helpful Guide to Vaccines

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Over the pest several decades, vaccines have dramatically decreased the number of cases of many diseases and saved millions of lives. Nowadays, many formerly deadly diseases have been almost completely eradicated. Getting vaccinated has become a vital part of maintaining your health. However, many adults do not get their booster shots after a certain age. Here are some reasons why you should vaccinate.

Protection Against Disease

Vaccines work by putting inactive viruses or bacteria into your immune system. That way your immune system can get used to them and be able to recognize them and fight them later. If it recognizes a threat it can defeat it because it will learn how to fight it.

Protect Others

Of course vaccines will help you protect yourself. However, getting vaccinated will also help protect others. There are people out there who, for medical reasons or otherwise, are not able to fight off diseases or get vaccinated. If you are not vaccinated, you may pass a disease onto those who are immunocompromised and they can become seriously ill.

No Missed Time

Even if you get through a disease without any permanent damage, you may miss some things that you did not want to. Missing work at an inopportune time can cause you stress and anxiety. Or, you may miss important family or social events because you are sick.

What Might You Need?

Depending on a variety of factors, such as your age and your history of vaccinations, you might need to get a booster of some vaccines. When you are 16, you should get a meningitis vaccine. You should also get MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), pneumonia protection, and varicella boosters. Getting a tetanus shot should be done every 10 years. Check with your doctor to find out what you might need.

Flu Shot

It is always a good idea to get a flu shot every year. Each year the formula is changed to better fight against the strain of flu that is expected to be prominent that year. The best time to get it is before the flu season. If you are an older adult over the age of 65 you should get a pneumonia vaccine as well.

Getting vaccinated will help keep you, and your community, as healthy as possible. Consult your healthcare provider today.

If you are a Minnesota worker who has been injured on the job, do not hesitate to contact Minnesota Occupational Health online, by phone or by visiting one of our Twin Cities locations. Our staff of physicians, many of whom are board certified in occupational medicine, offer years of experience and understanding in addressing work injuries.

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5 Tips to Manage Stress at Work

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You can’t escape stress. Whether you are at work, or planning a fun event, or raising kids, there are things that can cause anxiety in just about any situation. The only thing we can do is try to manage our stress and anxiety to prevent the situation from feeling worse. Here are some strategies to help with this.

Self-Care
Make sure to take care of yourself as best as possible. That means getting the proper amount of sleep on a nightly basis. Screens, such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops can affect your sleep as well. If you have trouble sleeping, then it might be best to consult a doctor. Also, eating healthier can help too. Being prepared with healthy snacks at work means you will be less likely to eat unhealthy junk food.

Take Breaks
Sitting at your desk for long periods of time can affect your posture and cause you pain and discomfort. It can also have a negative effect on your heart. Moving around can help with stress, so make sure to get up and walk around. You can also sit quietly and breathe for a while to help settle yourself down.

Go Easy On The Caffeine
Coffee is a big part of the day for a lot of people. It is a great reason to take a break, and it can give a boost in the morning when you might be a little groggy. However, too much caffeine can cause high blood pressure and other issues. High blood pressure can trigger symptoms of stress, and will also make it harder for you to manage stress.

Attitude Is Everything
Attitude can sometimes make all the difference in how you handle stress. Keeping positive, even when it seems like everything is going wrong can help you reduce stress. There can still be conflicts, but taking time to calm down and staying positive will help.

Take Some Time Away
It is vital to take some time away from your job every once in awhile to decompress and have a break. There are people who think taking too much time will make them seem lazy and not dedicated. However, the fact is that taking time off will allow you to be more productive when you return.

You will never be able to eliminate stress, but these tips can help you manage it.

If you are a Minnesota worker who has been injured on the job, do not hesitate to contact Minnesota Occupational Health online, by phone or by visiting one of our Twin Cities locations. Our staff of physicians, many of whom are board certified in occupational medicine, offer years of experience and understanding in addressing work injuries.

Safety Tips for Welding

By | Safety Guide | No Comments

Each Minnesota Occupational Health (MOH) clinic is staffed and equipped to function as a full-service urgent care center just for work injuries. If you are a Minnesota worker who has been injured on the job, do not hesitate to contact Minnesota Occupational Health online, by phone or by visiting one of our Twin Cities locations. Our staff of physicians, many of whom are board certified in occupational medicine, offer years of experience and understanding in addressing work injuries.

Welding can be a rewarding and well-paying career, but you do not want to take your safety for granted. Welding itself can be a dangerous activity if not done correctly, and can sometimes take place in areas that are unsafe, such as construction sites. Here are some tips to make sure that you are as safe as possible while welding.

You Are Grounded

Keep an eye on your connections and make sure they are properly grounded. If metal connections are covered with paint, they can be a safety hazard. Never use ropes or chains made of wire for grounding.

Flat Surfaces Are Vital

Your welding equipment should always be positioned on a flat surface. It should not be anywhere near materials that are combustible, such as paper and gasoline. Welding should never be done in the rain, since electricity and water do not mix well, and you could get seriously injured.

Be Careful of Gas

Any gas cylinders that you have must be attached with metal chains to supports. A protective cap must be in place as well before you transport them. If you want to use a hose, make sure that it is one specifically made for welding.

Inspection

Inspect your hoses as often as possible using soapy water and checking for bubbles. If a hose looks worn, then replace it as soon as possible. Patching is not acceptable. You can inspect your workspace to make sure there are no loose papers or tools and that everything is put away. You do not want to trip while welding, since it could be extra dangerous.

Use The Right Tools

If you need a specific tool for task, then use that tool. Do not try to make do with another tool. For instance, do not use pliers to pick up hot metal. Use the correct tool to do so.

Glasses

High impact glasses are absolutely mandatory when cutting or grinding. Do not even take them off in the shop, since flying debris could hit you in the face. Also, you may forget to put them back on. You must wear a face shield while welding to protect your face and eyes from damage. Not just from debris, but from the high intensity light as well.

Ventilate

Good ventilation is crucial to protect from any harmful fumes. A fan is a good thing to clear those fumes away.

Medical Surveillance Helps to Detect Health Threat to Workers

By | News | No Comments

More and more evidence suggests that those working in the commercial coffee manufacturing industry or local cafes should be concerned about their health. A study of workers at a coffee manufacturing facility showed that they had more respiratory issues than workers of a similar age group working in a different industry.

Those working on a production line performing fairly innocuous tasks such roasting, scooping beans, grinding and packaging coffee could be at risk of developing sinus and other mucous membrane symptoms. This fact is a result of their interaction with green coffee dust, chaff and roasted coffee dust, according to the study.

A third of the workers screened had abnormal breathing tests, with the likely culprits being two volatile organic compounds – diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione – found in the production process.

Diacetyl was blamed for many injuries and some deaths in the microwave popcorn industry during the early 2000s.

If medical surveillance had not been carried out at the coffee production facility, the business in question would never have known the condition of its employees. The company would not have been able to change its safety and production standards.

Medical surveillance is the assessment of employees exposed, or potentially exposed, to occupational hazards. By carrying out an assessment of your workers, you can monitor individuals for adverse health effects and determine if your work conditions are contributing to poor health. This will allow you to take preventative measures.

New advances in healthcare and medicines can help keep your staff strong, fit and well enough to carry out necessary tasks. It is the employer’s role to ensure that steps are taken to promote the health of their employees, especially if they happen to work in hazardous environments.

How Can Minnesota Occupational Health Help With Medical Surveillance?

Medical surveillance usually involves attaining a standard level of one or more materials that workers have been or will be exposed to, then continually retesting to make sure that safe levels of exposures are preserved. When a level surpasses standards for safe exposure, Minnesota Occupational Health works with employers, employees and environmental health and safety professionals to help lessen any lasting impact on the workers. MOH can advise employers on work environment processes, policies and equipment to ensure safe exposure levels for particular duties.

Related Information:

References:

Medical Surveillance for Workers’ Health. (2017, October 17). Retrieved November 02, 2017, from https://www.ulehssustainability.com/blog/occupationalhealth/medical-surveillance-for-workers-health/#sthash.Gk1vfkZi.dpbs

What Employers Need to Know About Worker Fatigue

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Numerous circumstances including insufficient, interrupted or poor quality sleep over a period of time can result in worker fatigue. Fatigue is our body’s indicator that we need more rest. Long work hours and lengthy and fluctuating shifts can be very demanding on our bodies and minds. The body runs on a circadian rhythm sleep-wake cycle. Most people sleep best during the night. Changes in time zones, seasonal time changes and alternating work schedules can disturb the body’s natural cycle, resulting in fatigue and a lack of mental awareness.

Working prolonged shifts can also increase the effects of noise and other environmental challenges.

What Employee Population Does This Impact?

Erratic and prolonged shifts are widespread among transportation workers, first responders, emergency workers, military personnel, construction workers, hospitality workers and many others. Fatigue can cause exhaustion, irritability, reduced attentiveness, and more issues that can result in problems in the workplace. Numerous studies have shown that fatigue can be associated with health complications in certain people.

OSHA and the ACC Create Alliance to Promote Awareness for Diisocyanates Exposure

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) have formed a two-year partnership to bring awareness to diisocyante exposure in the workplace and promote safe methods for its utilization in the polyurethane industry.

Isocyanates are chemicals used to make adaptable and rigid foams, adhesives, fibers, coatings, and more. Human exposure to isocyanates can significantly irritate the skin and result in breathing problems.

OSHA and AAC are together recommending that an Internet-based training program be created to educate employers and staff on the safe use of chemicals and the possible ways in which exposure may occur. It will acquire information on medical surveillance and clinical evaluation strategies for employers and workers who use the chemicals.

The partnership will help guarantee that employers and employees in specific industries have a stronger understanding of the health risks associated with the identified chemicals. Ideally, the partnership will result in less cases of exposure.

The ACC includes the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI) and the Diisocyanates and Aliphatic Diisocyanates panels. Representatives of these groups are comprised of manufacturers and suppliers of chemicals and equipment used to create polyurethane.

References:

Stefanie Valentic 1 | Sep 18, 2017. (2017, September 18). OSHA, American Chemistry Council Establish Partnership. Retrieved October 02, 2017, from http://www.ehstoday.com/industrial-hygiene/osha-american-chemistry-council-establish-partnership

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Prevention of and Care for Common Work Injuries

By | Safety Guide | No Comments

The risk of work injury is present in all jobs, but in particular in construction, manufacturing and assembly type jobs. Each Minnesota Occupational Health (MOH) clinic is staffed and equipped to function as a full-service urgent care center just for work injuries.

MOH considers workers to be industrial athletes so particularly for muscle and joint injuries, the goal is always to maintain and improve mobility. Just as professional athletes are cared for, treatment often involves remaining as mobile and active as is safely possible, gradually increasing the workload until maximum medical improvement is reached. Reducing couch-time is critical to improving strength, flexibility and range of motion.

Related Information:

Repetitive Motion Injuries

Many jobs involve repeating the same movements which can contribute to soft tissue and muscle fatigue, aches and pain. Genetically, some people are more susceptible to repetitive motion injuries after performing the same motion in the same way over a long period of time. Whenever possible, change the side of the body that is being used, periodically stretch in the opposite direction and workplace accommodations such as job sharing and workstation rotations can all help to alleviate these types of conditions.

Hydration and Nutrition

Physically demanding jobs and jobs that are performed in environmental extremes such as heat, cold or humidity require special attention. Avoiding sugars and other simple carbohydrates can be helpful in maintaining both stamina and a high level of mental alertness. Drinking water before you are thirsty is essential in staying ahead of dehydration, while keeping your muscles and brain functioning at an optimal state.

Flexibility and Balance

As we age, workers can become more prone to injury because of our loss in flexibility and balance. Even sitting or standing for long periods causes muscles to tighten. Carrying, pushing or pushing objects require proper technique and balance. Even a small amount of weight can result in an injury if balance is even slightly out of whack. Exercise not only for strength and stamina but also for balance.

If you are a Minnesota worker who has been injured on the job, do not hesitate to contact Minnesota Occupational Health online, by phone or by visiting one of our Twin Cities locations. Our staff of physicians, many of whom are board certified in occupational medicine, offer years of experience and understanding in addressing work injuries.

What Are the Most Common Safety Hazards at a Construction Site?

By | Safety Guide | No Comments

Construction sites can be very dangerous. That is why they are often surrounded by signs saying “keep out” or other warning signs. However, they are not just dangerous for curious kids up to no good, they are dangerous for the people who work on those construction sites as well. Here are some of the top construction site hazards you should be concerned with.

Falls

Perhaps the most common hazard is falling. Working from ladders and scaffolding can be extremely dangerous, and slips and trips are always a concern. Employers have to have a safety program to prevent falls, and special training should be provided to workers who work from heights. Identifying potential hazards and controlling them should be major safety priorities.

Electricity

There are many electrical hazards on a construction site. All workers should be aware of where electrical hazards might be, and to stay a safe distance from those who are working on power lines. All vehicles should be properly insulated as well.

Scaffolding

We have already mentioned that falls from scaffolding and other high spots are dangerous. When it comes to scaffolding, it is important to remember several safety tips to prevent those falls. First off, the scaffolding should be set up properly by trained workers. There is a load limit for all scaffolding, so do not exceed that limit under any circumstances. Also, often times the work being done on the scaffolding involves dangerous elements like electricity, so all necessary precautions for those hazards should be taken as well.

Trenches and Excavation

Falling off of something is dangerous, but so is falling into something. Trenches and excavated areas can lead to trips and falls. As well, the equipment and machinery used to dig present unique safety issues. Only trained and certified workers should operate the equipment, and every effort should be made to have the area clearly marked so someone doesn’t fall in by accident.

Construction sites are dangerous. Safety should be a priority to keep both your workers and the public as safe as possible. Not only will an accident affect the health of your employees, but it can affect productivity. Make sure to take all safety precautions so that no one gets hurt on the job site.

Minnesota Occupational Health is the leading provider of occupational health services in the Upper Midwest. To learn more, please contact us.

OSHA Introduces Application To Transmit Injury And Illness Data Electronically

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has unveiled the Injury Tracking Application (ITA). The Internet-based form gives businesses the ability to electronically submit injury and illness data from their finalized 2016 OSHA Form 300A. The application can be found on the ITA website.

In mid-2017, OSHA made available a plan to extend the July deadline for companies submitting their 2016 Form 300A to December. This will provide businesses adequate time to become accustomed with the electronic reporting system and to give the new administration a chance to evaluate the new reporting requirements before they are put into practice.

The information submission method includes four stages: forming an establishment, adding the 300A summary data, submitting that information to OSHA, and looking over the confirmation email. The protected website provides three opportunities for data submission. One will allow users to manually enter data into an online form. Another will allow users to upload a CSV file to address single or multiple establishments simultaneously. A third option will enable users of automated documentation systems to transfer data electronically through an application programming interface.

The ITA website includes information that explains reporting obligations for establishments, a list of common questions and answers, and a way to request help with finalizing the form.

OSHA Has Updated its Regulations for Post-Accident Drug Testing

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Late last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued new regulations relating to reporting and recording occupational illnesses and injuries. These regulations protect workers from creating disincentives to reporting an occupational injury or illness or from retaliation by an employer for a worker seeking treatment for an injury.

In a general sense, drug and alcohol testing after an accident is still permitted. That said, the employer must demonstrate a “reasonable possibility” that drugs or alcohol are fully or partially to blame for the accident, the injury, or the illness. This does not apply to situations where drug-testing is mandatory, such as for certain federal employees or workers subject to federal drug testing requirements.

OSHA still considers post-accident drug testing to be a reasonable strategy to assist with workplace safety. It is a way for employers to make sure that their workplaces are as safe as possible for everyone. However, employers need to be aware that they cannot have a blanket drug-testing policy for every workplace injury or illness. The situation must meet the requirement that there is a reasonable possibility that drugs or alcohol played a part. Supervisors and managers should be trained in what constitutes a reasonable possibility, and reporting processes should reflect this definition as well.

It is important to remember consider the following when determining whether a drug test has met the standard for a reasonable possibility.

How serious was the outcome of the accident? If a motor vehicle is involved, any commercial vehicle on a public roadway, resulting in the need for towing, a treatable injury or a fatality must always result in a drug and alcohol test.

For employers with a Reasonable Suspicion policy, drug and alcohol testing, is there reason to conclude that drugs or alcohol may have been a factor?

Common Workplace Eye Injuries and How to Prevent and Address Them

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The eye is one of the most delicate parts of the human body, and eye injuries can be very serious. They can also cause a lot of missed work time and lost productivity. It is vital to make sure that employees are protected from eye injuries, and that they have the proper training to protect the eye.

Common Eye Injuries

Eye Scraping

There are a few common eye injuries that tend to happen at work. The most common is probably eye scraping. This is when something hits or scratches the eye. These can be small objects or particles. Dust, wood or cement chips, or metal slivers can all easily scrape the eye. As well, larger objects can come into contact with the face, causing trauma to the eye or the socket.

Penetration

Penetration is when an object pierces the eye. This can cause blindness or loss of vision. Nails and staples are often the culprits, but slivers and other metal objects can also be to blame.

Thermal and Chemical Burns

Cleaning products and industrial chemicals can cause major damage to the eye. Burns can cause permanent loss of vision and even damage the tissue surrounding the eye. Welders are often at the most risk for thermal burns because of the nature of their work.

Protection

Because the area is so sensitive, all precautions must be made to ensure proper eye safety and prevent eye injury. For starters, all employees must be made aware and reminded of the eye safety hazards that are present on the job site or in the workplace. Plus, these hazards should be neutralized if possible. That means using work screens, machine guards, or any other method to prevent objects and materials from getting to the eyes. Perhaps the most important step to take is for all employees to wear the right eye protection at all times. This means wearing certified safety goggles that are appropriate for the job being done.

Injuries to the eye and the surrounding tissue are not to be taken lightly. Not only can the result be a loss of productivity and work hours, but permanent loss of vision or complete blindness are real risks. Make sure your employees work safely to prevent eye injuries.

9 of the Most Common OSHA Fines

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Many construction businesses make the choice to not have a dedicated safety initiative, since they feel that they are too small for one. However, no matter the size of the company, it can still be cited for safety violations, which can cost a pretty penny. Safety isn’t just about following the law, however. It is about protecting your employees. Here are the most common OSHA fines.

Training

All too often, employees are thrown into a position without the proper training. This happens especially in smaller companies where they may not have the personnel dedicated to training. It’s vital to allot time for safety training, no matter how large your company is. Spending time on training can save lost man-hours later.

Hazard Communications

All hazardous materials on site should be listed and displayed in a prominent spot. As well, all employees should be fully trained in how to use these materials, and data sheets on the material safety should be available as well.

Head Safety

Hard hats must be worn on a job site, as objects can easily fall from heights and cause serious injury. Workers are at risk for walking into support beams or other hazards.

Improperly Designed Wiring

Wiring that is installed or designed incorrectly can be a major cause of accidents. Make sure that all wiring is up to code, and that the proper equipment is used for handling electrical wiring.

Ladder Safety

Ladders must be in good working order, and not bent or missing rungs. Work should not be done while on a ladder. It should only be used for getting to certain heights.

Aerial Lifts

Only those who are properly trained and qualified should be using aerial lifts. As well, all equipment should be properly inspected. Before lifting, everyone involved should meet and discuss a “lift plan” for what is going to happen during the lift.

Fall Protection

When working at heights, all equipment should be installed and used correctly, and only properly trained employees should be doing it. All employees should be trained around the dangers of working at heights.

Excavation Requirements

Before performing an excavation, you should have the right permits, have a plan for egress, and plan to inspect the excavation site daily.

Ongoing Training

There should be regular safety meetings to provide extra training as well as to discuss safety issues. This can involve discussing new equipment, hazardous materials, or any other safety-related topic that needs discussing.

Construction job sites are dangerous places to be, and there are many ways to be found in violation of the OSHA. Make sure your site is up to code.

A Guide to the OSHA’s Health and Safety Standards

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The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has the authority, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, to regulate the health and safety of workplaces. This includes developing standards and rules, providing consultation and education to employers and the enforcement of those standards.

OSHA is responsible for occupational health and safety rules relate to injury prevention in many ways. Examples include personal protective equipment, machine safety guards, lock-out tag-out working, safety harnessing, etc. Other regulations seek to maintain safe and healthy work environments by the monitoring of factors such as noise, airborne particulate and chemical contact (silica, asbestos, solvents, pesticides, etc.). Virtually all industries are affected by OSHA rules and enforcement including the construction, manufacturing, maritime, and agriculture industries, among others.

OSHA standards are intended to help employers protect workers from a vast array of potential risks. Minnesota Occupational Health (MOH) develops, sponsors and hosts workshops on a variety of occupational health and safety topics.

Minnesota Occupational Health provides a wide array of preventative testing and medical surveillance to employers and their workers, in addition to non-life-threatening injury care for work-related injuries. Common utilized MOH services involve both baseline and periodic surveillance for respirator use, special color vision testing, audiograms for establishing baseline and comparative hearing thresholds, as well as blood levels of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic and others. MOH’s Eagan clinic is NIOSH certified to perform Coal Worker X-ray surveillance.

In the event of a work injury, all three MOH clinics provide urgent care services including suturing of open wounds, sprains, strains, dislocations and fractures as well as chemical and thermal burns. Injured workers are treated promptly on a walk-in basis and employers receive prompt communications as to the expected course of treatment and any specific light duty restrictions that would help the workers remain safe and productive while recovering.

To learn more about these services please contact MOH at (651) 968-5300 or at contact@mohonline.com.

Stress Electrocardiogram (EKG) or CT HeartScan Tests for Firefighters

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It is an unfortunate fact that heart disease causes a large number of firefighter deaths in the line of duty. It is important to identify firefighters who are at risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke before they are exposed to the harsh and challenging conditions of firefighting.

At Minnesota Occupational Health, our physicians may recommend a resting electrocardiogram (EKG), an Exercise Stress test or a CT Heartscan for a firefighter on a pre-employment and/or a periodic follow-up basis. These tests along with identifying other cardiac risk factors such as cholesterol, smoking, fitness, age, heredity and others, can offer insights into cardiovascular health and health conditions that could lead to a heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest.

An Exercise Stress Test may be able to identify:

  • The presence of significant coronary artery disease
  • Blood pressure response to exercise
  • Abnormalities with your heart’s electrical activity
  • Fitness level

A CT Heartscan uses computerized tomography to identify, measure and evaluate calcium within the coronary arteries that could lead to blockages.

Minnesota Occupational Health offers customized physical exams and medical surveillance tests and partners with key cardiology groups to perform and help evaluate heart disease in high risk professions such as firefighting.

Vijay Eyunni, M.D., M.P.H., Featured in The Star Tribune & St. Paul Pioneer Press

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Dr. Vijay Eyunni, Minnesota Occupational Health’s medical director, was recently featured in both the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Dr. Eyunni, who is also a team physician for the Minnesota Twins professional baseball team, identified Twins manager Ron Gardenhire’s prostate cancer during a health examination. Dr. Eyunni observed Gardenhire’s raised prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels and performed additional tests. These tests came back positive for prostate cancer.

A member of the American Academy of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and the Board of Preventative and Occupational Medicine, Dr. Eyunni has worked with Minnesota Occupational Health since 1998.

Follow these links to view the articles:

Avoiding Eye Injuries in the Workplace

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The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics has stated that more than 20 thousand workplace eye injuries occur each year. In additional, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has stated that workplace eye injuries cost approximately $300 million a year in regards to lost productivity, workers’ compensation, and medical treatment. Such injuries can range from an insignificant eye strain to intense trauma that can cause permanent damage or blindness.

One of the primary ways of preventing loss of vision is to always use the appropriate eyewear when performing your tasks. This is especially true for those who are involved in welding, due to its high-risk factor when it comes to eye injuries.

Related Information:

Some of the most common causes of eye injuries include:

  • Tools
  • Particles
  • Chemicals
  • Flying objects (like bits of glass or metal)

Effective ways to protect your eyes

Understand and appreciate the safety dangers of your profession. This involves clearing potential hazards before beginning a task. You can use work screens or different types of engineering controls when doing so.

If your profession involves the handling of hazardous materials, it is important that you wear special safety goggles, face shields, safety glasses, or helmets designed for that task.

Remember to wear eye safety items that are OSHA-compliant and have been approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

If you sustain an eye injury in the workplace, visit an ophthalmologist or take a trip to the emergency room immediately, regardless of whether the incident seems minute. Delayed medical attention can lead to blindness, long-term damage or a temporary loss of vision.

What are the Responsibilities of a Medical Review Officer?

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A Medical Review Officer (MRO) plays a pivotal role in helping employers ensure a safe workplace. An MRO is a licensed physician who reviews non-negative drug tests, determines if the presence of a tested substance is the result of legal usage and reports results directly to employers. An MRO may serve as an expert witness in contested cases as well. In addition, MRO’s provide expert guidance and training to collectors and often deliver Reasonable Suspicion Training for Supervisors to employers, a program MOH sponsors several times each year. MRO’s may also manage federal random drug testing consortiums to meet requirements established by Federal Motor Carriers, Pipeline, FAA, Federal Railroad, US Coast Guard, Federal Transportation agencies and others.

Medical Review Officer Services

MN Occupational Health provides both non-regulated MRO services (with Dr. Vijay Eyunni) and federally regulated MRO services including random testing programs through Advanced Drug Testing.

Who Benefits from Occ Med?

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Today’s employers are charged with managing risk and related expenses while still fulfilling their commitments to their customers and employees. A growing number of employers realize the advantages of partnering with occupational medicine clinics. Minnesota Occupational Health provides the complete range of urgent care services including imaging, suturing, eye and burn care as well as a referral source to specialty care such as advanced imaging, physical therapy and surgery.

The following are some of the major benefits of OCC Med clinics to both employees and employers:

If you happen to be involved in an accident at the workplace, it could lead to acute pain and anxiety. In such a scenario, you should seek immediate medical attention. Minnesota Occupational Health’s clinics provide crucial services that are designed to handle and treat work related injuries using an ideal approach. MOH Providers also determine and communicate a plan with the best course of action in terms of your treatment in order to return an injured worker to good health as soon as possible.

Another major benefit of partnering with Minnesota Occupational Health is our ability to create and report the proper documentation to insurers, QRC’s and employers including periodic work status reports so every stakeholder, from the patient to the insurer understands the needs and accommodations that may be required until Maximim Medical Improvement (MMI) is attained.

The Role of Occupational Health + Safety

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The terms occupational health and environmental medicine describe MN Occupational Health’s commitment to the health of workers through clinical care, prevention, disability management, research and education. For those within a work setting, these terms also aim to benefit the well-being, protection and overall daily work routines of both individuals and their employers. One of the goals of occupational health and environmental medicine is to identify and reduce or eliminate workplace hazards, whether physical or environmental.

A healthy workforce is critical to employers but in the end it is everyone’s goal that any given worker leaves their shift each day and retires at some point in the future without incurring long-term injury or illness.

If you would like to know more about the occupational health and environmental medicine practices of MOH, do not hesitate to contact us by calling 651-968-5300. Based in the Twin Cities, we provide professional occupational health & medicine services in Minnesota.

Ergonomics

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The goal of ergonomics is to create an environment in which workers interact safely and efficiently with equipment, machinery and work place surroundings. A poor worksite design will ultimately lead to tired, fatigued and frustrated workers, while a well-organized design results in better workplace dynamics, safe employees, and higher output. Ergonomics involves creating a work environment with the human factor being considered.

What are the benefits of ergonomics?

Ergonomics establishes a culture of safety. By implementing proven workplace ergonomics, a company can demonstrate that it is committed to promoting employee safety.

Ergonomics enhances productivity. When a company puts in place a plan to promote workplace ergonomic solutions, employees benefit by working in a job that provides opportunity for good posture and proper body mechanics, less work exertion, good reaching heights and less motion, thereby creating a more efficient and safe workstation.

Ergonomics minimizes expenditure. When employers and employees actively invest in creating ideal ergonomic factors, it minimizes risk and reduces costs associated with work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) and/or cumulative trauma disorders (CTD’s). Ergonomic injuries or repetitive stress injuries tend to develop over the long-term and can cost thousands of dollars in treatment, all of which can be minimized or avoided by implementing safe, proven ergonomics. 

Ergonomics improves the quality of work. When operating in a safe, optimized environment workers can produce higher quality work based solely on their ability to take full advantage of their skills and talents without the fear of injury.

Ergonomics enhances employee engagement. Ergonomics enable companies to generate positive employee engagement. This in turn, boosts morale and minimizes turnover.

Minnesota Occupational Health offers services including workplace, work-station and job-task analyses. Occupational Therapists work with employers and insurers to minimize cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs) and to guide workers and employers on how to adapt workers and their environment.

What is Spirometry?

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A spirometry test is a lung function or Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) that may be ordered when clearing an individual to wear a respirator for work.

The Importance of Respirators

Several industries mandate that workers wear a respirator while other employers make respirators available in certain circumstances, even if not required. Respirators can range from a standard dust mask, half or full-face filter mask all the way to an entirely enclosed Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), such as those worn by firefighters and people who work in confined spaces. Medical requirements to meet OSHA standards are determined by the reason for respirator use, the type of respirator, the duration and frequency that a respirator is worn and the age and respiratory health of a worker.

Whether your respirator protection program is an OSHA requirement or a voluntary offering, forming an effective respiratory surveillance program helps to keep your employees protected, reducing potential medical expenses and lost time.

The Spirometry Test

During a test, the patient is asked to take a deep breath and then secure his or her lips around the spirometer. Once the spirometer is in place, the patient breathes out as quickly and with as much force as possible, maintaining the exhale as long as possible. The device determines if the test is valid. Three valid tests are captured and compared. Measurements on the spirometer are read by a medical provider who determines if a worker can wear a respirator on anywhere from a daily to emergency-only basis. The frequency of retesting is determined by the medical provider based upon respirator types, how often and for how long respirators are worn, and the respiratory health of a worker.

MN Occupational Health performs spirometry tests – or pulmonary function tests – on behalf of employers in the Twin Cities. Contact us online or by calling 651-968-5740 to learn more.