Februahttp://insurancecareerstrifecta.org/ry is Insurance Careers Month, and Sedgwick is proud to participate in this industrywide effort to attract new talent to our ranks. With nearly 4 million Baby Boomers retiring each year and fewer than 5% of millennials expressing interest in careers in insurance, our industry faces a looming talent crisis. To ensure we can properly meet clients’ increasingly complex needs and care for the millions of people who depend on our services when unexpected events occur, we must make a concerted effort to explore new sources of talent and promote claims and insurance as a career choice anyone could love.

Why choose a career in the claims industry?

My own path is a testament to where a career in our industry can take you. I was recently humbled to accept an induction into the Florida Workers’ Compensation Institute Hall of Fame. After 20 years of experience in the workers’ compensations claims management industry, I have been able to take advantage of my time and opportunities to continue learning, having earned multiple professional designations. In my current role, I have operational responsibility for the Sedgwick Southeast casualty business unit, with approximately 600 colleagues on my team.

In addition to having financial responsibility for multiple offices, I work to ensure customer satisfaction, claim quality and colleague development and retention. While I do feel a sense of personal accomplishment, my Sedgwick colleagues have played such an important role in helping me reach this point. It’s our wonderful colleagues that make this industry a great place to work.  I never dreamed that this is where my career would lead me, but this industry has allowed me to build a strong network of talented colleagues and lifelong friends.

My story is just one example of the wide range of opportunities found working in this field. It is said our industry offers the “career trifecta” – jobs that are:

Stable – One of the few things we can dependably expect in life is the unexpected; it is when those unanticipated circumstances arise that people rely on the promptness and expertise of claims and insurance professionals. Studies show that our industry will need to fill 400,000 jobs by 2020 to meet the rising demand.

Rewarding – Beyond compensation and benefits, working in claims and insurance offers the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others at times when they are particularly vulnerable and distressed. Helping another person resume a sense of normalcy following a workplace injury, serious illness, auto accident or property damage is how we at Sedgwick show that caring counts®.

Limitless – Growth opportunities abound in the claims and insurance industry. There are always new coverage lines to explore, jurisdictional nuances to learn, and additional skills to master. Further, our industry provides enriching experiences in far-reaching specialties like data analytics, risk management, customer service, healthcare, information technology and globalization.

As we say at Sedgwick, if you care, there’s a place for you here. Our industry provides meaningful, challenging work and a culture of learning with a focus on professional and personal development. Those with a can-do, service-oriented attitude, emotional maturity, empathy and sound judgment will achieve success here. Whether you are an eager newcomer or a seasoned professional, we would love to have you join our industry and specifically the Sedgwick family. As I have found, the colleagues you meet in this industry often become lifelong friends. You will be constantly challenged and the sky is the limit for finding an opportunity you will love. To learn more about careers with us, visit https://www.sedgwick.com/careers and learn much more about our industry at http://insurancecareerstrifecta.org/.

Scott Westman, SVP of operations

In an episode that aired immediately following the Super Bowl, millions of fans of the hit NBC drama “This is Us” finally got an answer to the question that has loomed over the past two seasons: how Pearson family patriarch Jack (played by Milo Ventimiglia) died. We won’t spoil it completely, but previous episodes showed a house fire that started with a spark from a slow cooker in the kitchen and spread with terrifying speed up the curtains, then flashed across the celling. It was an emotional reminder of how life can change in an instant.

Let’s forget the slow cooker and focus on safety and prevention! What can we learn from the Pearson family’s tragedy to prevent, prepare for, and pick up the pieces in the event of a real house fire?

1) Prevent

Jack and Rebecca (portrayed by Mandy Moore) forgot to purchase batteries to replace the ones in their home’s smoke detector. A functioning smoke detector could have alerted them much sooner about the fire spreading through their home. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, “about two-thirds of home fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.” We recommend these steps for avoiding fire hazards and equipping your home so that if you do experience a fire in your home, you can prevent its spread and/or prevent your family from being caught off guard, saving extra seconds that can make all the difference:

  • Smoke detectors are typically not located in kitchens. However, current building/life safety codes specify smoke detectors on every floor and every sleeping area. A smoke detector on the same floor of the house would most likely detect a fire in a relatively short period of time. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends testing smoke alarms every month and replacing batteries at least once a year if using a typical nine volt battery. An even better rule of thumb is to replace batteries twice a year when changing clocks for Daylight Savings Time.
  • And about that slow cooker…appliance safety is critical in fire prevention. Plug both major and small appliances directly into a wall outlet, and always unplug small appliances after use. If an appliance has faulty or broken wiring or electrical components, do not use it (and don’t give it to a neighbor!); have it repaired by a licensed electrician or throw it out and replace. Any electrical repairs in your home should be done by a qualified electrician.
  • A residential sprinkler in the kitchen would likely have controlled the Pearsons’ home fire and limited damage to the cabinets near the slow cooker. A sprinkler would also be effective in preventing flashover (the moment where everything that can burn does burn). In addition, many sprinkler systems are connected to alarm systems via water flow switches in the sprinkler piping. When a sprinkler activates, the water flow switch will activate the alarm system. If your home does not have a sprinkler system, it may be worth considering. The National Fire Protection Association calculated that the risk of dying in a residential fire decreases by about 80% when sprinklers are present, and sprinklers reduce direct property damage by about 70%.
  • While typically not required, a monitored alarm system can alert authorities to provide an emergency response in a timely manner. Even motion detectors connected to a burglar alarm have been known to notify people of a fire in progress.

2) Prepare

For the Pearsons, it’s possible that not knowing exactly what to do in a home fire situation caused them to stay in the house longer than if they’d had a well-prepared plan. For your family, think “two and two” – discuss two possible escape routes from all rooms and practice them twice a year. Smoke may be your biggest threat; think about how to avoid smoke inhalation when escaping, and practice getting out of the house, even if dark smoke obscures your path. Once you are out of a burning home, you should not go back into the building, even to retrieve personal belongings or family pets. Alert firefighters right away, and rely on them for rescue.

3) Pick up the pieces

Clearly, protecting your life is most important, but protecting your property and considering how to rebuild or repair in the tragic event of a fire is another stressful thing families must face. Work closely with your insurance company, and secure a trusted repair contractor to guide you through the process with care and ensure things are restored and made right.

Our experts at Unified Investigations & Sciences specialize in investigating and recreating fires after they happen to determine the origin and cause of fire losses (as pictured below). They work hand-in-hand with our Vericlaim Repair Solutions team, which supports people after they have been impacted by property damage. We much prefer to help you prevent a tragic fire—like the one featured on “This Is Us”— than recover from one.

So if you do just one thing today, test the smoke alarms in your home. Unlike a television show, there are no retakes when it comes to a house fire.

Fire Protection Engineering Team, Unified Investigations & Sciences, a Sedgwick company

  • Andy Caldwell, MS, PE, Fire Protection Engineer
  • Andrew Ellison, MS, PE, Senior Fire Protection Engineer
  • Adam Farnham, MS, PE, Senior Fire Protection Engineer
  • Jay Kramarczyk, MS, PE, Principal Fire Protection Engineer
  • Ron Langstaff, MS, PE, Fire Protection Engineer

With its new rule requiring preauthorization of compound prescription drugs, Texas has become the latest state to attempt to curb the unnecessary use of compound drugs in workers’ compensation. The Texas Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) drafted the rule to stop prescribers from continuing to exploit a loophole in the state workers’ compensation drug formulary, one which allowed compound prescriptions to be filled without first obtaining preauthorization to confirm medical necessity for the injured worker. Largely because of prescriber misuse, the DWC experienced a 46.4% increase in compound prescriptions from 2010 through 2014. The total cost of compound medications more than doubled and the average per prescription cost rose from $356 to $829 in the same period.

Similar findings in other states are starting to drive lawmakers to address the problem. Arkansas and New York will introduce state-mandated pharmacy formularies in 2018 with requirements that prescribers demonstrate the medical necessity of a compound before it is dispensed. Likewise, California and the federal government are addressing preauthorization because they are seeing compound medications driving increased medical cost while delivering no significant value for injured worker care.

Compounding pharmacies have been tied to everything from state and federal fraud investigations to the tragic deaths of patients where appropriate safety standards were not mandated. While the active medication ingredients of a compound medication undergo traditional Food and Drug Administration (FDA) testing, there is no FDA testing or approval process to measure the safety or appropriateness of those ingredients once they have been compounded. Often, compounded drugs are prescribed as costly topical creams, despite lacking evidence to support any benefit or effective absorption of these treatments. Adding a preauthorization requirement, reliant on systematic use of evidence-based treatment guidelines, keeps costly and unnecessary compound drugs out of the system.

When a request for a compound medication is received by a utilization review (UR) nurse or a telephonic case manager providing UR, the clinician evaluates related medical records, the medications sought to be dispensed via the compounded medication and the medical necessity of each ingredient. According to FDA findings, the benefit of a compound medication is only evident in limited circumstances like the inability to ingest/digest ingredients or a medication allergy to a commercial formulation. Ingredient-level review is needed for a sound evaluation of whether the injured worker will benefit. The treatment of these injuries is in no way inhibited by the simple requirement of evaluation.

Expect to see more legislative activity to strengthen oversight of compound medications. Legislation – and mandated preauthorization – helps us take another step in the nationwide effort to address health safety threats and rising cost affiliated with prescription drugs. As preauthorization rules are implemented, all parties should benefit from improved quality of medical treatment, increased collaboration between doctors, pharmacists and UR teams, additional clarity and efficiency in prescribing practices and, ultimately, a more effective path toward return to work for injured employees.

Don Lipsy, Managed Care Specialty Products Manager

It used to be so simple: People fell in love and got married. Now, with big settlements involved when serious and catastrophic injuries have been sustained, families need to be wary of marriage predators.

The claimant in a recent case, Kevin Hunt, suffered brain injuries in a tragic ATV accident in 2011 and was determined to have sustained catastrophic impairment. A former girlfriend, Kathleen Worrod, suddenly appeared and whisked him away, successfully marrying Hunt. This incident occurred in Ontario, Canada, where the entitlements under the automobile policy allow for significant benefit limits beyond $1,000,000. Local police located Hunt in a motel room several hours after the wedding. His family was unaware of the marriage until after it had taken place.

In an effort to protect Hunt, the family launched an action in Superior Court in Ontario to have the marriage dissolved. A decision was reached recently, after several years of motions and actions. Although Hunt provided evidence at the trial, his condition leaves him unable to recall and understand the ramifications of the marriage and dispute.

There had been a history of alcohol abuse between the parties, police involvement, and a clear dissolution of the relationship prior to the ATV accident. This historical information and evidence became pivotal in the trial to declare the marriage void. Medical experts made it clear that Hunt did not have the “capacity” to marry.

Superior Court Justice Edward J. Koke declared the marriage void. The decision is being touted as the new protection for all claimants when they may be compromised and a “predator” successfully marries them under suspicious circumstances. The decision to void the marriage is notable because the Ontario Marriage Act allows almost anyone who is not “under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs or any other reason” to marry. The rules are loose, leaving little to stop vulnerable people, often the elderly with dementia, from being pressured to marry.

The result of this automobile insurance case may have broader impact for suspicious marriages across the Province of Ontario. Many feel the decision will offer more protections for claimants, insurers, the elderly and their families.

Laurie Walker, CIP, CRM, SVP, Director of Operations, Canada
Jennifer Rennie, BA, CIP, Senior Adjuster, Vericlaim Canada

Marijuana high on federal radarThe buzz on New Year’s Day was the legalization of recreational marijuana in California, the nation’s most populous state. However, just four days later the focus shifted to federal drug enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act, which still classifies marijuana under Schedule I along with heroin and LSD.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo on January 4, 2018 rescinding all previous guidance documents for United States Attorneys specific to marijuana enforcement that were issued from 2009 through 2014. In the memorandum, Sessions directs all U.S. Attorneys to enforce the laws enacted by Congress and to follow well-established principles when pursuing prosecutions related to marijuana activities.

How does this impact medical marijuana states?

The impact of this change on the 29 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico that currently have comprehensive medical marijuana programs or the 17 states that allow “use of low THC, high cannabidiol (CBD)” products is as hazy as ever. Since December 2014, the federal omnibus spending bills have included the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which prevents the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) from using federal funds to prevent certain states “from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

This amendment is temporary and must be approved every fiscal year. In a letter dated May 1, 2017, Sessions asked Congressional leaders to not include this amendment in any future omnibus bill, arguing that the amendment would “inhibit [the Justice Department’s] authority to enforce the Controlled Substances Act.” While the 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act signed into law on May 5, 2017 included the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, President Trump added a signing statement that indicated he would “treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

The amendment was included in the last short-term continuing resolution spending bills that expire January 19, 2018 and Sedgwick is carefully monitoring whether the amendment will again be renewed.

How does this impact recreational marijuana states?

Although DOJ enforcement of federal drug laws in states with laws regarding medical marijuana will depend on continued renewal of this amendment, recreational marijuana laws in eight states may face greater risk.

Despite federal uncertainty, the states are seemingly undeterred. Hours after Attorney General Session’s announcement, the Vermont House of Representatives voted 83 to 61 in favor of a bill that makes it legal for adults to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana. The Vermont Senate approved the bill on January 10, 2018 and Governor Phil Scott has said he will sign it, making the state the first to legalize marijuana via the legislature, rather than through a ballot initiative. Efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in additional states like New Jersey and Michigan are currently underway.

Unless a definitive political solution can found, the conflict between federal and state law may end up going before the U.S. Supreme Court. The last time the high court weighed in on marijuana was 2005. More recently, the high court issued an unsigned opinion in March 2016, refusing to hear Nebraska and Oklahoma’s request to declare Colorado’s legalization of marijuana unconstitutional because it is against federal law and violates the Constitution’s supremacy clause, which states federal law supersedes state laws. Since Justices Alito and Thomas dissented, Justice Gorsuch, President Trump’s latest addition to the U.S. Supreme Court, could eventually cast the deciding vote.

What can employers do?

Because the future of federal marijuana policy and enforcement continues to be so uncertain, it is important to stay up to date on the laws and legal decisions concerning this complex and rapidly changing issue in every state your business operates. We also recommend seeking legal assistance to develop and communicate a sound company policy addressing the use and reimbursement of medical marijuana for on-the-job injuries, as well as employee use of both medical and recreational marijuana.

Sedgwick will continue to work together with clients and partners, carefully monitoring judicial edicts and state law to help navigate this cloudy situation. We will continue to offer updates and insights throughout 2018.

Darrell Brown, Chief Claims Officer

Read past thought leadership on marijuana regulations in the edge and our blog.

Navigating 2018: Charting industry trends for the year

At Sedgwick, our colleagues are dedicated to taking care of our clients and helping them stay informed on key changes and emerging trends in our industry. We recognize that 2018 will be a year of change in a variety of critical business areas.

Sedgwick’s thought leaders believe the changes and trends in the spotlight for 2018 will include important topics such as catastrophe planning and response efforts, policy compliance and drug control efforts, self-service options, improving on opportunities for careers in claims management, diversity and inclusion, interdisciplinary care and technology. We are committed to helping our clients prepare for industry changes by highlighting topics and trends like these that may impact their employees, customers and businesses.

The topics below are part of our Navigating 2018 list and our team will continue to write about and create solutions for them throughout this year in concert with our client partners.

Compounding global risks

  • Reacting to catastrophes
  • Preparing for the threat of emerging risks
  • Protecting first responders

Shifting tide of policy

  • Asserting control over the drug crisis
  • Collaborating for compliance
  • Expanding leave programs

Bridging the gaps

  • Racing toward self-service innovation
  • Supporting diversity and inclusion within claims management
  • Broadening the knowledge and capabilities of today’s claims professional

Leveraging interdisciplinary care

  • Putting whole health into practice
  • Capitalizing on the power of integrated resources
  • Exploring alternatives for pain management

Improving experience through technology

  • Engaging workers throughout their recovery
  • Coding care
  • Moving beyond the predictive model
  • Expanding autonomous claims processing
  • Automating healthcare through artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic processes

To read more visit our Navigating 2018 webpage. Let us know what areas will be most important for your company in 2018. We welcome your feedback.

Kathryn Tazic, Managing Director Client Services, Sedgwick

You may need more than bread and milk on hand if the meteorological phenomenon known as Winter Storm Grayson turns out to be as intense as anticipated. The Weather Channel predicts that Grayson may bring the East Coast of the U.S. some of the heaviest snow in decades and even more severe cold than we’ve seen this past week. It snowed in Tallahassee, Florida, for the first time in 28 years, if that’s any indication of things to come.

Frozen pipes

Even if you’re a northerner who’s used to winter conditions or pride yourself on wearing flip-flops in the snow, extreme cold is accompanied by a significant risk of pipes freezing. Frozen pipes can cause major issues in your home, as they prevent water flow and eventually burst, causing damage and flooding.

Here are five quick and easy tips to help you prevent losses related to frozen pipes: 

Tip #1: Keep the heat on.

Make sure not to turn off the heat, even if you’re leaving the house for an extended period. It’s best to set the thermostat above 50 degrees Fahrenheit to provide enough heat to keep the pipes warm and prevent any water inside them from freezing.

Tip #2: Keep interior and cabinet doors open.

Pipes are often located in cabinets; when the temperature drops, it’s a good idea to keep cabinet doors open so the heat from the rest of the house can keep the pipes warm as well. Also, leave all interior doors open so heat can circulate throughout the home.

Tip #3: Allow faucets to drip.

If you’re afraid your pipes will freeze, you can let water drip slightly from the faucets. What causes frozen pipes to burst is the pressure created between a frozen blockage and the faucet. Allowing the faucet to drip relieves this pressure build-up and helps to keep pipes from bursting.

Tip #4: Seal up leaks.

Holes and cracks—especially those located near pipes—on both interior and exterior walls should be sealed up. This helps to keep the cold air out and the warm air in.

Tip #5: Add extra insulation.

If you’ve ever had problems with frozen pipes anywhere in your home, extra insulation could be the cure. Pipes can be fitted with foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves to decrease their chances of freezing. This is an easy solution for pipes that are exposed, but it can get expensive if walls, floors or ceilings must be opened to properly insulate the pipes.

Pipes found in areas like basements and attics are likely to need extra insulation to keep them from freezing. Supplementary insulation can also be added to walls and ceilings to keep pipes there warm.

In the event you do suffer damage to your home or business due to frozen pipes, Vericlaim Repair Solutions will be there to help you through the restoration process. In the meantime, we hope you’re safe and warm and have plenty of milk and bread to hold you over.

–Ed Reis, president, Vericlaim Repair Solutions, a Sedgwick company

 

At Sedgwick, taking care of people is at the heart of everything we do. Our job is to provide assistance and support when the unexpected occurs. But more often than not, our colleagues are not the first ones at the scene when there’s an injury at work, a natural disaster, an outbreak of violence, an auto accident, a fire or a health crisis. It’s the community first responders—police, firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical providers, search and rescue teams, military members and other brave professionals—who are on the front lines, ensuring everyone’s health and safety durin1200x627_facebookg uncertain times and demonstrating how courage counts.

Each year, leading up to the holidays, Sedgwick conducts an awareness and fundraising campaign to support and promote a cause that is meaningful to our customers, community and colleagues globally. Reflecting on some of the painful events of the past year—hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, terror attacks and more—we were drawn to the bravery of the men and women who ran toward danger, rather than away from it, to save the lives and property of others. In recognition of their sacrifice and heroism, we have dedicated our 2017 holiday campaign to honoring all the first responders who epitomize how courage counts in times of crisis.

This year, Sedgwick is donating $50,000 to charities supporting the physical and emotional needs of first responders around the world. This cause holds special meaning for me because of my own experience as a veteran and a firefighter; I am especially pleased to dedicate Sedgwick’s gift in honor of our valued clients and business partners.

Additionally, we have mobilized Sedgwick colleagues around the world to help us demonstrate our collective gratitude to first responders. In support of the communities where we operate, our colleagues are participating in holiday activities at local police stations and fire houses, bringing meals to emergency personnel who are at work—rather than with family and friends—on the holidays, and delivering thank-you cards to the heroes who make a difference in their local areas.

We’re also recognizing first responders within the Sedgwick family—colleagues and their relatives in the armed forces and who volunteer as firefighters, auxiliary police, ambulance corps team members and more. Please visit our website and watch our social media channels to see how our colleagues and offices around the world are participating.

Do you know a first responder hero whose generosity of spirit you want to recognize this holiday season? Help us honor them on social media by using the hashtag #CourageCounts and tagging @Sedgwick in your messages.

I would be remiss not to acknowledge another group especially deserving of our thanks: the tireless team of adjusters that has gone above and beyond the call of duty in the latter part of this year to aid in managing an influx of property claims from one of the most destructive hurricane seasons on record. While we tend to think of first responders as professionals like EMTs, firefighters and police officers, this year we can add to that list the many colleagues from across the Sedgwick and Vericlaim family who have been on the ground from day one to assist in the areas of greatest need (read more about our hurricane response efforts in the article, “Three powerful hurricanes – one extraordinary team,” from the latest issue of the edge magazine). We are grateful to everyone who has pitched in to help those working to rebuild their homes and their lives in the aftermath of these catastrophic storms. Their personal sacrifices, attention to detail, and commitment to demonstrating that “caring counts” have not gone unnoticed.

This past year, first responders were called upon like never before. We look back on 2017 with renewed appreciation for everyone who aided those in times of need, and ahead to 2018 with a sense of hope that their vital services will be in far less demand next year.

Dave North, President and CEO, Sedgwick

> Read additional Sedgwick thought leader articles in our latest edge magazine at edge.sedgwick.com.

Beautiful, twholiday-tree_pexels-photo-364668inkling lights and the pine scent of a real holiday tree can be part of a cherished tradition that makes the season bright and festive for many. However, all too easily, the tree that may be decorating your living room can turn into a fire hazard that threatens your family and home.

To prevent fresh-cut trees from becoming dry and easily combustible, it is essential to keep them well watered. Check out the video from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for a comparison of how quickly a dry tree burns versus one that has been given adequate water.

Of course, it is only logical that a dry, brittle tree will burn better than a well-watered one. From a scientific viewpoint, water primarily suppresses fire by absorbing heat. In fire tests, holiday trees have shown peak heat release rates that are roughly equivalent to the energy relewetvsdryased by up to three burning sofas. Click photo to watch video.

 

In another NIST video, you can see just what happens when a dry tree catches fire. Click on photo to watch video.

As the fire flares, it takes little time for the needles to ignite. The flames quickly rise more than a couple of feet above the tree. As the fire reaches toward the ceiling, the flames draw in air from all sides, providing oxygen for the combustible gases to burn.

Next, the flames begin to spread horizontally along the ceiling; in an open setting, the fire would have more oxygen available allowing the flames to burn out in less distance. The flames advancing across the ceiling transmit the radiant heat downward toward furniture and other combustibles in the room. Jets of smoke become visible, traveling along the ceiling. At high temperatures, the soot particles in the smoke transmit a high degree of radiant energy. For radiant energy at high temperatures, a little increase in temperature can result in a large increase in heat transfer.couchburn

Flames appear in the smoke, directly above the sofa, which means the combustible gases within the smoke have ignited. The ceiling is nearly obscured by the smoke.

The end table begins to smoke from the heat created by the radiant energy of the burning tree. The armrest of the chair closest to the fire begins to smoke, even though it is not in direct contact with the flames. The radiant heat energy from the fire in the tree, as well as the flames and hot gases along the ceiling are taking their toll.

Combustible gases within the smoke begin to burn, and flames are visible directly above the armchair. An orange glow appears on the seat cushions of the sofa, indicating combustion due to the heat energy being radiated from the flames along the ceiling.

The orange glow continues to form on the armchair, first on the armrest, followed by the seat cushion and the back of the chair. The combustion on the seat of the sofa spreads to the back and expands rapidly.

The end table ignites and flames appear. Soon after, the fire on the end table spreads and you see the armchair ignite, then the sofa erupts in flames.

An orange glow overtakes the lower portion of the video, which is consistent with the onset of flashover – where everything that can burn, ignites. Through flashover, fire can engulf an entire room. It is typically associated with temperatures of about 600°C (1,112°F) and radiant heat energy of approximately 20 kW/m2.

Once flashover begins, individual elements of the fire are no longer visible, however, the glow can still be seen through the smoke and flames. The fire has raced from ignition to flashover in less than a minute.

Today’s homes typically have more combustibles than houses built just a few decades ago. Newer structures contain a lot of plastic materials, which give off intense heat and emit toxic gases when they burn. In the event of a fire, your escape time is limited.

If you have a holiday tree, take steps to protect your family and home. Be sure your tree stays well-watered, check that your smoke detectors are working properly to provide early warning, and have a plan to get out quickly if needed.

With precautions and care, you and your loved ones can have a safe and happy holiday.

Unified Investigations & Sciences, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc., is a premier provider of multidisciplinary engineering and forensic investigation services to insurance carriers, corporations and public entities. Their highly experienced and licensed fire protection engineers specialize in providing insights relevant to fire cause, spread, life safety and fire detection, alarm and suppression systems.

Ron Langstaff, M.S., P.E. | Forensic Engineer
Unified Investigations & Sciences, Inc.

A Sedgwick company

HRE-graphic-what's-ahead-2018-webHuman resources and benefit managers will have excellent opportunities to demonstrate their expertise in 2018. The complexity of issues they address on a daily basis continues to grow and evolve. Federal, state, county and city laws that govern employment issues are constantly changing.

Organizational structures can further compound these multi-layered regulatory complexities. Departmental silos with their own internal policies and procedures can make it difficult to implement consistent programs that adhere to internal standards and comply with statutory regulations.

To better meet these obligations and program requirements in the year ahead, more employers are likely to tear down departmental walls in favor of a more collaborative work environment. This is where HR and benefit professionals can make a big impact.

The intersection of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and workers’ compensation provides an ideal illustration of how HR and benefit managers can work with risk managers to create more effective and efficient programs for both employees and the organization.

Employment laws related to leave of absence and accommodations also apply to workers’ compensation claims. It is critical for organizations to understand the nuances of federal laws like the ADA and FMLA. However, the departmental structure of many organizations isolates human resources and benefits from risk management; occupational and non-occupational injuries are treated very differently.

For example, an employee that broke his ankle by slipping off a ladder in the warehouse may have a very different experience if he broke his ankle in a Saturday afternoon neighborhood softball game. For the work-related injury, he may be treated by an occupational specialist near the plant, while he might visit the emergency room or see his primary care physician for the softball injury. The employee also would have to determine who to notify at work to report his condition: the HR department or the risk management department. He would communicate with different people at the organization in filing the claim and would complete different paperwork. Because return to work programs are not often the same for those injured on the job vs. outside of work, finding a job for him at the warehouse while his ankle was healing also could vary.

The need employers must address is to create and implement a consistent leave of absence approach across the board, regardless of what caused the injury or where it happened. Further, reasonable accommodation must be provided on a consistent basis whether conditions and injuries are occupational or non-occupational. This is where the interactive process comes into play.

ADA requirements and the interactive process will remain a hot topic into 2018. The interactive process is recommended to help an employer determine if an employee has a disability and whether reasonable accommodations can be made for the disabling condition.

The interactive process is triggered when an organization becomes aware of an employee’s disability and that person has requested an accommodation or displays a need. Also, a company is obligated to initiate the interactive process when an employee has exhausted leave for work-related and non-work-related conditions alike.

Frequently, the employee, supervisor and HR or benefit representative will have a discussion about the condition and potential options for accommodation. Including healthcare providers in this discussion is advised to exchange information related to the impairment, potential restrictions or limitations and guidance as to whether an accommodation likely will be successful.

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a service of the U.S. Department of Labor, identified six steps an organization should consider when initiating the interactive process. Anyone handling occupational and non-occupational injuries and illness should consider them, regardless of departmental boundaries. Any disabling condition is subject to reasonable accommodation rules under the ADA.

The six steps JAN recommends are1:

  1. Recognize an accommodation request or a duty to start the interactive process.
  2. Gather information needed to assess the employee’s situation, such as impairment or restrictions and a job description that outlines the tasks the employee performs.
  3. Explore what accommodations might be available to the employee and identify what environmental modifications could be made.
  4. Choose the accommodation and, when possible, ask the employee which is preferred.
  5. Implement the accommodation and offer assistance throughout the process as needed.
  6. Monitor the accommodation to ensure it is working as intended.

Because of the technical knowledge, communication skills and professional experience needed to be a successful HR or benefit professional, the future is bright in 2018. Opportunity lies in taking the lead in collaborative efforts and developing innovative solutions that will benefit employees and the organization.

Bryon Bass, SVP, Disability and Absence Practice & Compliance

> This article was originally published in the November 2017 issue of Human Resource Executive magazine.
> Looking for more information on ADA compliance, return to work and opportunities for collaboration? Register to join our complimentary webinar “Don’t forget the ADA! How to build a premier return to work program” on Wednesday, December 13 at 2 PM EST.