Tag Archives: Mental Health

Long Hours Linked To Health Problems And Lower Productivity

Providing employees a chance to work in teams, and socialize during breaks actually increases productivity.

Today’s post comes from guest author Deborah Kohl from Deborah G. Kohl Law Offices.

In Wisconsin, mental disability claims have to meet a higher standard–an extraordinary stress test. Thus, these claims are more difficult to pursue in Wisconsin, but the suggestions about a better workplace are beneficial.

Today, we have a guest post from our colleague Deborah Kohl of Massachusetts. Many people are surprised to learn that mental disability claims due to workplace stress are compensable by workers’ compensation. Unfortunately, claims like these are on the rise as people work longer hours and feel the pressure of an increasingly competitive working environment. Recent studies on mental health and the workplace have led researchers to discover that, over time, conditions such as extended working hours and long periods of solitary workcan lead to decreased productivity, anxiety, and even major depression.

Employers can create conditions that are more supportive of mental health by taking simple steps like allowing workers to take breaks where socializing is permitted.

While it may seem initially counter-intuitive, studies show that in the long run, policies like these can lead to a more productive workplace. Here are a few tips workers can use to stay mentally healthy at work:

  • Form friendships in the workplace. A positive relationship with even a single colleague can make a big difference in combating loneliness and depression. A friend at your office could provide an ear when you really need to release some steam or just take a mental break from an intense task.
  • That said, make a distinction between work and leisure, and make time for social activities outside the workplace. Continue reading

How does Wisconsin “Rank” in Workers' Comp?

Wisconsin scored a B for Workers' Comp, but only because the study did not consider benefit level and ease of obtaining legitimate claims.

 

On a scale of A to F, Wisconsin scored a B on a list of 2011 State report cards released by the Work Loss Date Institute (WLDI).  For the last ten years , the Institute has tracked trends and gives each of the states a grade and a tier ranking based on their performance.

The State report cards are based on data from OSHA forms 300 and 200, on which employers report incidents of injury and illnesses.  The OSHA reports form the basis for state by state rating of workers’ compensation performance, which help employers, insurance carriers, State governments, and workers’ compensation departments to assess and analyze their own programs.

The State report cards emphasize one primary measure of outcome: whether workers get better and go back to work.   One shortcoming of the report is that it does not track medical costs.  Five different outcomes  are measured and compared among the states for each year.

  1. Incidents rates;
  2. Cases missing work;
  3. Median disability durations;
  4. Delayed recovery rate; and
  5. A key condition, or Low back strain

With over ten years of data, the WLDI has enough information over a long enough time frame to differentiate states adequately.  The best performing states were Utah, Arkansas, and Minnesota (graded A).  The worst: Kentucky and New York, with a grade of F.  Wisconsin ranks in the middle tier, graded a B.  States surrounding  Wisconsin include Iowa with a B, Minnesota with an A, Michigan with a B, and Illinois with D.  State ranking can be viewed here.

 

Note: The study is limited in that it does not grade by benefit level or by the difficulty or ease of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits. On this criteria Wisconsin ranks fairly high.  It provides benefits for injuries and illnesses using a “more probably than not”  medical causation standard..  It also provides for mental injuries and does not deny benefits for injuries involving alcohol or drug use, both of which are denied in many states.

 

 

Photo Credit: Maggie Smith / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

Mental Injuries in Workers' Compensation

 From time to time, headline stories appear in the national news about workers claiming compensation benefits for “mental stress” injuries.  Most recently “former professor claims years of mistreatment by colleagues cause mental health breakdown – denied benefits”.  These stories often add fuel to the fire that workers are filing claims that do not have merit. Since objective standards such as x-ray and MRI do not exist in work-related mental injury cases, establishing causation has always been problematic, provoking some skepticism from the courts.

Wisconsin is one of a handful of States that recognize mental injury in all its forms: physical trauma causing mental injury (“Physical—Mental”), non-traumatic mental stimulus causing mental injury (“Mental—Mental”) and mental stimulus causing physical injury (“Mental—Physical”).  Continue reading