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dispense-as-writtenThe 2017 National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is Saturday, April 29 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. The day was established in 2010 by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to help reduce prescription drug risks and promote safety.

According to the DEA, most prescription drug abusers report that they get their drugs from friends and family. Cleaning out old prescription drugs around the home or workplace reduces accidents, thefts, misuse and abuse of the drugs. Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015.  Opioid painkillers were involved in 33,091 overdoses, which come to 90 deaths per day. Eight out of 10 new heroin users began by abusing opioids and moved to heroin after they could no longer obtain the prescription drugs, according to a DEA report.

In the past decade, improper disposal of fentanyl patches has caused 24 hospitalizations of children under 2 years old. Of those hospitalizations, 12 were deadly. Participate in the take-back day and you could save a life. The DEA reported that the 2016 National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day was a record-breaking success, resulting in the collection of 447 tons of unwanted medicines across all 50 states. Sedgwick encouraged participation last year and we are again encouraging our colleagues and clients to participate and to spread the words of encouragement for others. In addition, most local police stations now have disposal bins for medications. Pharmacies such as Walgreens have added disposal centers and others have mail-away kits for purchase. Everyone must be accountable for the medications they are prescribed.

On April 29, various local sites will be set up to collect unused, unwanted or expired medications. The collection facilities have the ability to dispose of the drugs in a manner that is safe and environmentally sound.

We encourage you to help increase awareness of this program and take the opportunity to clean up your own medicine cabinet.

To find a collection site near you, use the search tool on the DEA website. You can also contact the DEA’s call center at 800.882.9539 or your local law enforcement agency.

Andrew Newhouse, Sedgwick pharmacist

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Wellness-ZENter-blog-graphicOn Wednesday in the Wellness ZENter, RIMS attendees had the opportunity to hear about a recent study on the work/health relationship. Darrell Brown, Chief Claims Officer at Sedgwick, and Brian Gifford, Director of Research and Measurement at Integrated Benefits Institute, explored the results of this study and what the findings mean for the risk management industry.

They discussed how illness does more to an employer’s workforce than run up healthcare spending. Brian noted that it actually impacts the way a company does business. It is important for employers to recognize that helping employees get healthier is a way to improve business performance. A key finding in our recent survey showed that about 13% of all of the occupational claims that we saw had been in the non-occupational system before. These are people who have had some kind of non-work-related injury that took them off the job. The findings from several studies on this topic show that when you’re dealing with occupational injuries, you’re dealing with people that have a high risk because they have other health issues.

Brian explained that if there is more communication and coordination within an organization, you can start to triage some of the cases and you can almost spot the employees who are at a high risk for a later claim. By the time you’re dealing with a short-term disability claim, you’re likely to see it showing up later on because you’re dealing with a person with health challenges. Brian also pointed out that people who were actually touching both systems had the highest costs in terms of lost productivity and it was higher than those who had multiple short-term disability claims.

They discussed how treating the person no matter how they sustain an injury or illness, and taking a holistic look at them, can improve outcomes. Darrell pointed out the importance of figuring out the best way to treat the person in terms of communication and transferring them from one benefit system to another. If you don’t do those things, friction and litigation can occur and when there is litigation, the costs rise exponentially.

Brian noted that risk managers have a stake in this because of all of the ways in which poor health can impact a person’s performance on the job – their ability to show up day in and day out, their ability to produce high quality work and their ability to avoid disabilities – all of that down the road is going to have an impact on the workers’ compensation field.

Be in the know about everything Sedgwick is involved with at RIMS 2017 by visiting our special website.

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The first topic in the spotlight on Tuesday in the Wellness ZENter at RIMS was employee resilience. Kimberly George, SVP, Corporate Development, M&A, and Healthcare at Sedgwick, talked with Molly Doyle, Chief Product Officer at meQuilibrium, about the importance of resilience. Resilience is about the ability to handle the natural challenges and opportunities that come your way in order to respond in the most productive and positive way, and achieve the best outcome. Molly explained that the human body is not designed to accommodate 24/7 stress. The symptoms of stress can be seen in how we respond to difficult situations. Companies are deploying resilience training across their organizations to improve employees’ ability to bounce back after a rough day, negative feedback or a challenging assignment. Resilience can also impact recovery after an injury or illness. The more resilient an organization’s employees are, the healthier the company. meQuilibrium has found that more resilient employees tend to be sick less often, have fewer days out of the office, stay with companies longer, be more productive, and have less hospitalization and less disability. The company’s data-driven solution leverages cognitive behavioral techniques and focuses on taking small incremental steps to create lasting behavioral change. It includes being aware of your thoughts and then using the tools to respond differently.

Consumer engagement was also on today’s agenda. Dr. Teresa Bartlett, SVP of Medical Quality at Sedgwick, discussed the importance of consumer engagement and the impact it can have on outcomes. She described the huge burden of chronic health that we have in our country and how diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity are often caused by lifestyle problems, and noted that 93% of all diseases are preventable by changing your eating habits, changing your lifestyle and moving more. She also highlighted the importance of engaging each other and our employees to be healthier and more active. Health education and health literacy are also important. When consumers understand a diagnosis, it can help them take the steps they need to get better. Will Smith, Chief Product Officer at One Call Care Management, discussed how providing transportation can also help drive engagement by ensuring patients get to their appointments. They are a part of their own recovery process. The group also discussed pain management. Shaun Rahimi, CEO at Enso, pointed out that physical and emotional baggage that comes with chronic pain, which is a very complex problem. With the opioid epidemic in our country, it is important to look for creative solutions for managing pain.

Be in the know about everything Sedgwick is involved with at RIMS 2017 by visiting our special website.

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Wellness-ZENter-blog-graphicEmployee health took center stage during Monday’s Wellness ZENter presentations at RIMS. Dave North, President and CEO at Sedgwick, kicked off the day with a corporate wellness discussion with Shawn Leavitt, Senior Vice President of Global Benefits at Comcast. They highlighted the importance of wellness for individuals and populations, and how health and productivity impact business performance.

The risk management industry has built an entire infrastructure around trying to take care of injured employees in an efficient way, but it has become complex for the employee with multiple phone numbers to call and forms to fill out. Accolade offers a way to keep the complexities behind the scenes and put the employee at the forefront. As a part of their program, each employee on an employers’ benefit plan is assigned a trained health assistant who helps them with issues such as finding a doctor, understanding a diagnosis, getting a second opinion, or figuring out which bills are supposed to be paid. Comcast began working with Accolade to help bring all of their employee benefit programs together. The health assistant serves as a single resource for all health-related questions and concerns for the employee and their family members.

The advanced technology combined with the health assistant’s compassionate approach helps personalize and enhance the experience for the employee. Working together, the data that Sedgwick has gathered can be integrated with the information that Accolade has captured. Integrating group health, workers’ compensation and disability offers benefits that can help people get back to work faster. They discussed the importance of having access to all of the same benefits no matter how an employee is injured

Rob Cavanaugh, President of Accolade joined Kimberly George, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development, M&A, and Healthcare at Sedgwick, and Shawn to discuss how the three pillars of health – physical, emotional and financial – play a role in achieving wellness. The health assistant can help the employee with problems that may be uncovered during the call like concerns about paying for prescriptions. With Accolade’s program, the health assistant ensures the employee is never given another phone number or another app; and never has to think about where to go to next. They also inform the employee about all of the benefits and resources available to them based on their situation and medical needs.

Be in the know about everything happening Sedgwick is involved with at RIMS 2017 by visiting our special website.

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I have been coming to RIMS for over 20 years and it never grows old. I remain as excited this year as I did the first time I attended. Again I can say rapid changes are happening in our industry, especially in the area of technology. At Sedgwick, we also continue to gauge legislation change at the state level and actively keep an eye on what’s happening at the federal level. This year you can count us in as part of something brand new that looks to explore these areas of change and more – the Wellness ZENter, that we are pleased to sponsor with RIMS.

During exclusive exhibit hours at the Wellness ZENter, leading experts will speak on topics related to health and productivity in the workplace. I am personally going to share why wellness and health for individuals and populations translates to wellness of a company and, in turn, adds up to higher business performance. Focusing on wellness and health creates a win-win situation for everyone; it is part of why we at Sedgwick believe that caring counts.℠ While these topics are still outside the norm for many companies and risk managers, I believe the time is now to begin integrating whole health into your vision for a healthy workforce.

Let me expand on what we mean by whole health. The three pillars of a consumer’s health journey include physical, emotional and financial health. When any of these becomes out of balance, it can affect the whole person. Navigation of a person’s overall health is more complex than ever and, while it is easy to say there is “an app for that,” the human element is still very important to whole health.

Another word you are going to hear a lot from us in the Wellness ZENter is resilience. The science of resilience is a powerful tool when considering workforce wellness. Companies are deploying resilience training across their organizations to improve employees’ ability to bounce back after a rough day, feedback or a challenging assignment. Resilience impacts recovery following an injury or illness. The more resilient an organization’s employees are, the healthier the company.

We were pleased to sponsor a very interesting study in the February issue of Health Affairs on the correlation between the work/health relationship; you will want to join in the discussion about this research and take it back to your organization.

There is so much more happening at the Wellness ZENter than what I have highlighted. Take time to view the full list of speakers and times listed here; I think you will agree there is value in attending as many of these exclusive sessions as time allows.

As always, I look forward to meeting and talking with you next week at RIMS. I encourage you to stop by Sedgwick’s booth 2127 and Vericlaim’s booth 2219 and talk to our expert team more in-depth about your specific needs.

Dave North, president and CEO, Sedgwick

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LinkedIn_inspiredMany industries today share a dilemma: how to bridge the talent gap. As seasoned professionals retire, they take with them institutional knowledge, industry experience, subject matter expertise, and technical and leadership competencies. Recruiting new workers to take their place is a challenge.

There is conflicting research on what millennials actually want and need.  The most recent research shows that it is more aligned to those of previous generations.  However, millennials tend to be more vocal about their expectations and will leave an organization if those expectations aren’t met.  Businesses can struggle to meet the “new expectations” of the next generation. In addition, today’s client increasingly expects our workforce to mirror the diversity of their own organization’s workforce and customer base. Shifting consumer expectations also present a challenge.

The Institutes® Risk and Insurance Knowledge Group has found that only 4 percent of current college graduates are considering the insurance industry as a career option.  That speaks volumes about the image of the industry and the job itself.  Our industry needs to rebrand itself by focusing on purpose—that is, people helping people in times of need, rather than the outworn “deny first” mindset of days gone by. Sedgwick’s caring counts℠ approach focuses on empathy and compassion when working with injured workers and other claimants. Our clients have come to expect this from us.

Leveraging technology to improve business operations is vital to attracting talent. Sedgwick has been at the forefront of our industry in offering leading-edge capabilities. Raising awareness about these assets can be instrumental in recruiting younger workers. And casting a wider net in the emerging talent pool means looking beyond specific college majors and educational backgrounds to identify candidates with attributes and skill sets that match the competencies needed to be successful in the position. For example, when hiring a claims examiner, we would look for personality traits that include empathy and compassion.

To retain talent, we must cater to employees’ changing needs. For example, those who prefer less structured schedules might appreciate the ability to work remotely. Corporate culture plays a major role in meeting expectations of performing rewarding, meaningful work. Feeling aligned with the culture of the company builds corporate loyalty.  Training and professional development help workers grow within their jobs and rise in the organization.

Understanding the unique value each individual brings to achieving the shared mission and goals of the organization encourages colleagues of all ages to deliver excellence every day. Setting clear, realistic expectations from the outset and keeping the lines of communication open show colleagues that they have a voice and the organization is listening.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts as this is such an important topic to all of us. I look forward to seeing you on Tuesday, April 25, starting at 2:30 p.m. to share more and engage in conversation to equip us all for attracting and retaining talent in our industry.

Terri Brown, chief people officer for Sedgwick

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LinkedIn_indepthOn Wednesday, April 26, from 8:30 am – 9:30 am Gert Cruywagen (Director of Risk Management for Tsogo Sun and author of the book “Jungle Risk Management”) and I will be presenting on a subject many risk professionals struggle with: identifying and exploiting the upside of risk for value creation. Because traditional risk management has been oriented around loss events and their pretty uniformly negative consequences, the positive aspect of risk is hardly recognizable. More significantly, opportunities to create value are overlooked or ignored as risk leaders find themselves in a nearly constant “hair on fire” mode dealing with the losses that can consume their teams and their time.

An opportunity is not merely the upside of a downside risk but those standalone opportunities that define an organization’s core purpose and add value to its strategic planning. This session will take a look at how the King IV Corporate Governance Code, launched in 2016 by the Institute of Directors in Southern Africa, adds this dimension to risk governance. It will enable attendees to explore the broader definition of your role as a risk leader. It will allow attendees to evaluate the suitability of risk management methodologies for opportunity management and the value that can come from this approach to managing risks. It will examine the many stumbling blocks to both organizational and personal success as well as considering the alternate ways to communicate with and report to your C-suite and board.

The value of risk management is often a question about which the C-suite and business unit management often press for better answers. While Total Cost of Risk (TCOR)  is a common and  usually well received measure, risk managers need more ways to prove their value and gain management and board commitments to greater investment in managing risk. Over the last decade, practitioners have found new and innovative ways to gain influence, show value, measure success differently and fuel their own personal success as a result. For some this has been the path from middle management to the C suite. This session will review the various ways successful risk managers tell their story, drive innovation in their function, gain deeper commitment to their strategies and the effect it has on not just their organizations but also their career trajectories.

Some of the many topics we’ll cover in this interactive session include: defining and redefining risk; Identifying both threats and opportunities; passive versus active opportunity identification; the various and alternative roles of risk leaders who take this broader view; useful risk management methodologies; and the potential stumbling blocks of taking this approach.

Chris Mandel, SVP and Director, Sedgwick Institute

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baby-giraffeApril the Giraffe has been quite the internet sensation! Some 20 million people around the world have followed her seemingly endless pregnancy since February. Although currently closed for the season, the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York, April’s home, has jumped on the opportunity to raise awareness about giraffes and the educational animal park itself by live-streaming the giraffe enclosure via Facebook and YouTube. At times, more than 250 thousand have been on the live stream at once tracking her progress.

April’s story inspired pregnant human Erin Dietrich to don a giraffe mask and post her own parody of the giraffe watch on Facebook. However, Dietrich welcomed her own baby, a boy, on March 8. Meanwhile, April still waits, as does the rest of the world.

Pregnant women and their partners might empathize with April. Pregnancy involves much anticipation, preparation and uncertainty. As April’s keepers know, eating healthful foods is important for expectant moms, so they monitor her diet carefully. For humans, Womenshealth.gov advises consuming more protein, iron, calcium and folic acid, as well as additional calories. “Sensible, balanced meals combined with regular physical fitness is still the best recipe for good health during your pregnancy,” the website notes.

Expectant moms know they ought to eat well, but there are many aspects of pregnancy and preparation for life beyond that are not as clear. Everyone’s experience is unique, and, for most people, navigating what comes next – not only the changes a baby brings, but also immediate questions about leave and health benefits – can be an unfamiliar and complicated process.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) covers pregnancy as a serious health condition. Mothers are entitled to up to 12 weeks of time away from work to prepare for and recover from delivery, including time away from work for prenatal visits. But FMLA provides job and benefits protection only.

For income replacement, some employers offer short-term disability (STD) benefits, and a handful of states, including New York where April lives, provide state disability insurance (SDI) benefits for pregnancy. Typically, maternity leave eligibility will begin either when a healthcare provider states the mother can no longer work or approximately two weeks prior to the estimated delivery date. And coverage continues for six weeks following a normal delivery and 8 weeks following a C-section, unless complications arise.

In April’s situation, her due date was mid-February. Therefore, her FMLA and STD/SDI could have begun at the beginning of February. We know not all babies are born when planned, and complications sometimes occur. In April’s case, she would be entitled to 26 weeks of STD/SDI benefits. After that period, she might need to transition to long-term disability (LTD) if she continues to be disabled beyond that period.

But wait – after 12 weeks, her job would no longer be protected, right? Not necessarily. Typically, normal pregnancy is not considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, if a complication should occur, the condition would likely rise to the level of a covered disability. Also, in many states, including New York, reasonable accommodation of pregnancy-related conditions is the law. In that case, April could be provided with leave as an accommodation, as long as there is some evidence she could return to work in the near future. In April’s case, it seems to be anyone’s guess when she’ll actually deliver, but considering a giraffe delivers after 14-15 months of pregnancy, I would grant her additional leave. April’s FMLA protection would run out on April 19, so the interactive discussion should probably start soon!

After a baby is born, many parents seize the opportunity to bond with their new child. Increasingly, employers are offering paid parental leave to bond with children. And, some states offer job-protected leave beyond the 12 weeks FMLA guarantees. In April’s case, she currently lives in a state where she is limited to the FMLA protection of 12 weeks, and she doesn’t work for an employer who provides paid parental leave. There is good news, however; in 2018, New York will provide paid family leave of up to 12 weeks to cover care for family members and to bond with a new child.

Remember, fathers also are entitled to time for bonding with their new children. So, expectant dad Oliver – seen pacing in the background of the giraffe cam – and April have been planning their own leave after the baby is born. Now that April’s newfound fame has made her the breadwinner of the family, they have decided that after April’s 6-8 week recovery, she will return to work and Oliver will take 12 weeks off to bond with the baby. Although it will be unpaid, the time spent with baby giraffe will be worth its weight in gold.

Healthcare coverage is important to a developing child, so April and Oliver will need to add “baby g” to their health insurance. Babies will need nine well-baby visits and 16 immunizations during the first year. These preventive services are generally included at no additional cost under most insurance plans. Having a baby is a qualifying event which allows the ability to change benefits outside of the open enrollment period. Most plans typically require changes to occur within 30-60 days of the event; coverage is retroactive to the child’s date of birth. After that, waiting until open enrollment is the only option.

Navigating the nuances of pregnancy and parental leave can be stressful, but Sedgwick knows that caring counts℠. We can help employees understand leave and health benefits available in connection with pregnancy. Our colleagues are ready to answer questions and handle the details so new parents can have more time to concentrate on their bundles of joy.

Bryon Bass, SVP, Disability and Absence Practice & Compliance

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Yellow Hard Plastic Construction Helmet On White Background

In our Insights for 2017 forecast released earlier this year, one area in which we anticipated significant changes affecting employers was the regulatory arena. That prediction came true this week with the approval of a congressional resolution limiting the timeframe in which the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can penalize employers for violating its requirements to make and maintain records of workplace injuries and illnesses.

President Donald Trump signed H.J. Resolution 83 into law Monday, nullifying the Department of Labor (DOL) rule titled “Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of Each Recordable Injury and Illness” (see 81 Federal Register 91792). The DOL rule, which served to clarify employers’ ongoing obligations regarding those records, was issued in response to the U.S. District Court decision in Volks Constructors v. Secretary of Labor. The court stated:

OSHA cited and fined petitioner Volks Constructors for failing to properly record certain workplace injuries and for failing to properly maintain its injury log between January 2002 and April 2006. OSHA issued the citations in November 2006, which was, as Volks points out, at least six months after the last unrecorded injury occurred. Because ‘[n]o citation may be issued … after the expiration of six months following the occurrence of any violation,’ 29 U.S.C. § 658(c), we agree with Volks that the citations are untimely and should be vacated.

The December 2016 clarification rule granted OSHA the authority to issue recordkeeping citations for up to six months beyond the five-year timeframe in which employers are obligated to maintain records on recordable workplace injuries and illnesses. The recordkeeping requirements apply to the current year plus five prior years, so OSHA’s citation authority under the rule coincided with the duration of the recordkeeping requirements.

The resolution approved this week reduces OSHA’s authority to issue citations for recordkeeping errors. Consistent with the Volks decision, a citation must now be issued within six months of the violation. (The resolution does not change employers’ obligations to record and maintain OSHA records for the current year plus five years.)

OSHA inspectors have abided by the Volks decision since 2012, so employers should see no change in the administration’s processes for evaluating recordkeeping accuracy. However, with the new limitations placed on citations, employers will be under pressure to ensure that information on recent recordable injuries and illnesses is as current and accurate as possible.

Sedgwick offers a range of OSHA-compliant recordkeeping services to help employers meet their objectives; click here to learn more. Clients using the advanced level of our OSHA service offering benefit from careful reviews by our expert colleagues, who can also make timely decisions on the recordability of workplace injuries and illnesses. Customers who take advantage of our basic service offering or use other recordkeeping methods must pay close attention to the timeliness of their determinations to avoid citations for recordkeeping violations.

Please watch our blog in the coming months as we continue to monitor developments in OSHA compliance. I expect this will be just one of several legislative changes this year affecting how employers manage their operations.

-Malcolm Dodge, VP of risk services, Sedgwick

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TeresaBartlett-180hThe world can change in a split second. We have seen this happen many times in the past several years. Be it a mass shooting, a crime of terror, or a workplace accident or act of violence; unfortunately, we never really know what is around the next corner. What happens can have a huge impact on both our personal and professional lives.

Most of these situations are beyond our control, but that doesn’t mean we are helpless or should stand idle. One point of control we do have is to look at all of the areas that could be impacted and to be ready to react if the unthinkable happens.

From a corporate perspective, this means preparing your building and staff for readiness, including business continuity plans, and having a list of the key contacts that would be most helpful at the local, regional and national levels. Having a game plan in advance of an emergency situation could mean all the difference on how well your organization is prepared for the potential loss of productivity, customer impact, lost employee work time and possible claims costs.

Jill Brooks, Director, Risk and Claims, Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits and I will be speaking about the importance of a crisis intervention at the upcoming RIMS conference in Philadelphia.

Here are four key takeaways we will discuss in greater detail during the session:

  • Who in your organization to involve in critical incident planning
  • How to plan and road map for what to do in an emergency
  • Specific actions after a critical event
  • Open discussion with real life examples

I hope you will join us for our session, In the cross hairs, on Monday, April 24 in room 124 at RIMS. Expand your knowledge and gain the tools needed to develop a proactive crisis intervention program.

Teresa Bartlett, MD SVP, medical quality, Sedgwick