Risk Insider: Dwayne Eastwood

Stand Up for Health

By: | August 14, 2014 • 2 min read
Dwayne M. Eastwood, MBA, ARM, CSP, CFPS, CEAS III, is the risk manager for McCoy’s Building Supply, a building supply retailer with 87 locations. He received a B.S. in Fire Protection and Safety from Oklahoma State University and earned his MBA from Howard Payne University. He can be reached at [email protected]

I first noticed someone standing at a desk a couple years ago. At the time, the practice seemed unusual, but many studies have reported the health benefits of standing versus sitting.

As early as 1953, British researchers found that bus drivers were twice as likely to die of heart attacks as standing trolley operators. This is an alarming statistic considering society is more sedentary today than it was 60 years ago!

The Centers for Disease Control conducted a seven-week study of workers with sedentary jobs. CDC researchers added a device to workers’ desks that allowed the employee to sit and stand. The Take-a-Stand Project reduced sitting by 66 minutes per day, resulting in 54 percent less upper back and neck pain and improved moods.

The American Journal of Epidemiology found in a 2010 study that women who sit for more than six hours a day versus three hours a day had an approximately 40 percent higher all-cause death rate, and men had an approximately 20 percent higher death rate. This association was independent of the amount of physical activity the study subjects engaged in for the rest of the day.

As a society, we are sitting more, resulting in a sedentary lifestyle.

“As early as 1953, British researchers found that bus drivers were twice as likely to die of heart attacks as standing trolley operators.”

There are more televisions and computers in the average household than ever before. In the 1960s, the average household contained only one television. Today, a television in every room is not uncommon.

The number of home computers, tablets and smart phones continue to rise. In addition, more workers are working in offices.

Lack of activity is one contributing factor to coronary artery disease, caused by plaque buildup that may require surgery to bypass. Coronary artery bypass surgery costs approximately $100,000 in the U.S. The average cost for people diagnosed with diabetes in 2012 was $13,700 per year.

The sit-stand path to improved health is compelling. It can be hard to place a hard number on ROI, but if you consider the reduction in medical expenses for employees that may have an obesity problem, diabetes, coronary artery disease, etc. it’s easy to see that there would be a long-term ROI.

For an office with 200 workers, assume that 10 percent choose the sit-stand option. There are a couple of very versatile devices on the market that can be added to a desk that cost an average of $600. Twenty workers times $600 equals $12,000.

That amount is inexpensive compared to the cost of serious medical treatment. The return on investment could be measured by the cost of one coronary bypass surgery or one year of diabetes treatment. Not to mention improved productivity and happier workers.

Top management support is absolutely necessary for the installation of sit-stand desks to be successful. Someone within the company should be responsible for knowing the options and assisting with adjustments. If the devices are not adjusted properly, the user may experience discomfort.

Some view a sit-stand desk option as a fad. But that’s neither true or on-point.

Our emphasis should be on improving employee health and reducing the risk factors associated with the calamities of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.

Advertisement




That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.

Advertisement




Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]