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February 2015

January 2015

5% Weight Loss, Yes It Counts!

 Dr. C Posted by Larry Catlett, MD, OMC WellnessWorks

OK, so you have been gaining a little weight over the past few years. Last checkup, you were significantly farther north of your ideal weight than you thought. You are now significantly beyond that healthy BMI you keep hearing about and it just seems like too much work to try to get it off. A few pounds would have been easy enough to lose, but a few pounds aren’t going to help you now- or is it?

When we think about weight loss, we often use our ideal body weight as a standard for where our weight needs to be. Being overweight is often accompanied by high blood pressure, elevations in blood fats like triglycerides and cholesterol, high blood glucose, and even sleep apnea problems. In my line of work I often hear, “But 30-50 lbs is just too much too lose right now. And if I don’t lose that much it won’t do me any good, will it?”

That mentality of thinking is incorrect. Losing 5-10% of your current weight can do amazing things and if you keep that weight off, the positive effects remain in place. In some cases, it can allow you to wean off the CPAP breathing machine you have to use for sleep apnea. It can significantly reduce the inflammatory substances in your body that help cause blood vessel disease that turns into a heart attack or stroke. You can drop your triglycerides (which might otherwise drop you with a heart attack) by 40 full points. Add a little exercise and cut out some junk food and you can improve on this even more. Both your diastolic and systolic blood pressure can drop 5 points and even more with a little less salt and a few other healthy eating choices. With this relatively small weight loss you can drop your blood sugar significantly too. And all of this reduces your risk of heart attack and diabetes.

So there is some good news for a change! Now that you know, set a weight loss goal. Set your goal at 5%. When you make it, reward yourself and shoot for 10%. The “cost” of the changes you will have to make is relatively low with plenty of “benefits” not far down the road. Good luck and stay safe and well!

For more information about wellness and “primary prevention” strategies, visit, email info@omcwellness, or call (800) 575-6537 x3207.

Containing The Contagion: Simple Steps To Fight The Flu

  Greg LaRochelle 2014 Posted by Greg LaRochelle

It comes on suddenly with a raw scratchy throat, a mild to severe headache, fatigue, and a runny nose. You suspect you’re coming down with a cold but soon a fever develops and your body is racked by chills and miserable aching. You’ve been hit by the flu!

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports widespread influenza activity in just about all of the continental United States as of January 10th with the flu season peaking in February and extending into May. While most people recover from the flu in 3 days to 2 weeks, some people will develop complications that can be life-threatening. The severity of the flu largely depends on the strain of influenza virus and the ability of the person’s immune system to mount an effective response. In the context of the flu’s affect on business, the National Business Group on Health reports the seasonal flu costs businesses approximately $10.4 billion in direct costs for hospitalizations and outpatient visits for adults each year. The flu is responsible for 200 million days of diminished productivity, 100 million days of bed disability and 75 million days of work absence.

Given the serious personal and financial impact of the flu as a contagious disease, the CDC urges people to take the following action on fighting the flu.

  1. First and foremost, get an annual flu shot. While this season’s flu vaccine doesn’t quite match the current strains of circulating influenza, the vaccine can still help to limit the severity of symptoms.
  2. Practice good cough and sneeze etiquette by covering your mouth and nose using a tissue or upper shirt sleeve.
  3. Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  4. Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, and mouth as mucous membranes are a site of entry.
  5. Regularly clean and disinfect touch surfaces (fomites) including cell phones, touch pads, and tablets.
  6. Limit contact with others when having flu-like symptoms and avoid close contact with sick people.
  7. If sick with the flu, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone unless you need medical care.  

For more information, check out the CDC’s Everyday Preventive Actions.


Drug Use In The Workplace Impacts Safety

David-Darnley Posted by Dave Darnley, MS, CHSP

More job applicants and workers tested positive for drug use this year than last – the first time in more than a decade there has been a year-to-year increase in positive test results, according to the latest Quest Diagnostics report.

Quest’s report showed some of this national increase was based on results from Colorado and Washington, where new recreational marijuana laws have been passed. But, a survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) shows a broader perception change nationwide, as 60% of 12th graders do not view regular marijuana use as harmful.

Additionally, positivity rates for amphetamines, including methamphetamines, have nearly tripled (196% higher) and are at their highest level since 1997, according to

The potential impact on workplace safety and productivity is substantial:

  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), billions of dollars have been lost or spent by employers in terms of decreased productivity, increased accidents, absenteeism, turnover, and medical costs.
  • According to a NIDA survey, drug using employees are 2.2 times more likely to request time off, 2.5 times more likely to have absences of 8 days or more, 3 times more likely to be late for work, 3.6 times more likely to be involved in a workplace accident, and 5 times more likely to file a workers’ compensation claim.

How prevalent is drug/alcohol abuse in the business world?

  • The DOL reports via their Workplace Advisor that 73% of all current drug users aged 18 and older (over 8 million adults) are employed.
  • More than 14% of employed Americans report heavy drinking (defined as 5 or more drinks on five or more days in the past 30 days), per a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services national survey on Drug Abuse.
  • According to a survey by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, more than 60% of adults know people who have gone to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

How can employers address this potential problem?

  • Workplaces can establish comprehensive drug and alcohol programs, which may include a written policy, education and training, testing, and access to treatment through EAP’s or other resources.

What are the benefits of such programs?

  • After implementing a comprehensive drug-free workplace program, a Florida mechanical contracting company saved $100,000 on workers’ compensation costs, increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and had fewer accidents according to the Institute for a Drug-Free Workplace in Washington, DC.
  • Only four years after implementing a workplace substance abuse program which included drug testing, the DOL Working Partners reports a landscaping company in Arizona saved over $50,000 a year due to increased productivity, fewer accidents, and less absenteeism and turnover.

Do you need assistance developing a drug and alcohol policy or program for your workplace? Check out the links above, the MEMIC Safety Director, or your local government agency regarding drug testing procedures and applicable laws.

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The Challenge for Home Health Care

Beth Stowell Posted by Elizabeth K. Stowell, BS, MPH, COHN-S, CHSP

With over 75 million baby boomers now beginning to reach retirement age a huge demand will be placed on the health care industry in the coming years.  This is especially true in the home care sector as more people stay in their homes and look for affordable alternatives to long term care facilities.  

According to USA Today, nationwide, the number of home health aides is projected to increase by nearly 50% from 2012 to 2022. The home care industry has an exceptional challenge controlling risks and insuring the safety of their employees.  Workers have minimal supervision and are inside private homes where there is limited environmental control.  They are also travelling extensively on our roadways exposing them to the most common cause of death in the workplace - transportation.  

When viewing the home health care industry through the eyes of a safety professional, the available controls for risk are narrowed down to “Administrative Controls” or Best Practices. These Best Practices are generally the last resolution in the safety world, with “engineering out” the risks as the first choice.  But the industry does not have that option.  It is often not possible to insert engineering controls into another person’s private environment.

If you are a MEMIC customer and work in the home health care industry or are just looking for more information related to the subject, look to MEMIC for assistance.  At 10:00am EST on January 29th MEMIC is offering The Challenge for Home Health Care, a free one-hour webinar  that will cover these issues and offer some possible solutions.  Click the link above to register today!

The New Year's Resolution We Should All Make

Randy Klatt 2014 Posted by Randy Klatt, MS, WCP

Many people make a New Year’s Resolution, but that’s the easy part.  Actually accomplishing the resolution is another matter.  We usually want to lose weight, get a better job, manage our debt, or exercise more.  These are commonly made, but rarely accomplished.  How about making a 2015 resolution that would benefit not only yourself, but all of your coworkers?  That might be easier to keep, especially if everyone on the job works together to accomplish it.  Workplace safety is a topic that affects everyone, no matter your industry or job title.  How about we all resolve to reduce the number of workplace injuries this year?      So how do we accomplish this resolution?  First, make sure your resolution can fit into the SMART goal model.  The odds of reaching a goal are better if it is defined by this acronym:

S - Specific

M- Measurable

A - Agreed upon

R - Realistic

T - Timely

Simply saying we are going to be safer at work just doesn’t meet the criteria.  This statement is too vague and can’t be measured or time-framed.  It would be difficult to see progress, hard to get people to contribute, and isn’t specific enough to provide behavioral guidance.   So how do we turn the desire to be safer into a SMART goal?  Here’s one example of how it might work:

Reduce recordable injuries in the Shipping Department by 10% by the end of 2015. 

Assuming we have the agreement of all interested parties, we now have a goal that does fit the model.  It is specific, realistic, and can be measured within a time frame.  But just like that resolution to lose weight, we can’t just sit back and hope it happens.  Once the goal (our New Year’s Resolution) has been set, we now have to conduct specific activities intended to help us reach the goal.  Here are a few activities that might help:

  • Conduct a job hazard analysis (JHA) to determine what the hazards are and control measures. 
  • Conduct regular site inspections to improve housekeeping and identify hazards.
  • Develop specific safety related responsibilities for each position.
  • Delegate weekly safety talks to supervisors.
  • Incorporate safety related criteria into individual performance evaluations.

Setting a New Year’s Resolution to improve workplace safety is a great way to kick off 2015.  The benefits are significant, both financially and personally.  After all, no one wants to be hurt, and no one wants to see a coworker injured.  But remember, it will take a SMART goal and a good amount of work to make it happen.  Doing the same thing year after year and hoping for a different outcome just doesn’t work very well.  To find out more about how to improve your safety culture check out the resources within the MEMIC Safety Director