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55 W Monroe St Suite 900
Chicago, IL, 60603

312.346.6444

We founded Capron & Avgerinos more than 20 years ago to represent the seriously injured in Illinois and Iowa. We have devoted our entire practice to representing individuals in workers’ compensationpersonal injury, and wrongful death claims. Our skilled injury attorneys have helped thousands of clients receive compensation, enabling them to move forward with their lives.

News

NEWS AND UPDATES


Capron & Avgerinos supports SIDS of Lisle, Illinois

Your past contributions to our organization have made it possible for us to provide meaningful bereavement support and infant safe sleep education throughout the state.Thank you for your kind consideration!   -----  Board of Directors  /  SIDS of Illinois, Inc.

Sudden Infant Death Services (SIDS of Illinois, Inc.) strives to provide compassionate and culturally appropriate bereavement support to families and caregivers who experience a sudden and unexpected death of their infants. Begun by parents who lost infants to SIDS, the organization was founded as a peer support network for newly bereaved parent.

If you would like to join with us in giving to this great institution, click here for more information. Thank you.


Speaking of kids, we're proud to say we have a long-standing relationship with The Medinah Mini Choppers, a group of Shriners dedicated to helping children through their fundraising motorcycle parades. Join them and join us helping out the kids they serve. For more information, go to their website: http://medinahminichoppers.com/


Please join us in welcoming Matt Heinlen to our team of attorneys.

Matthew knows that every lawyer promises the best outcome. What sets Matthew apart is his commitment to working with clients every step of the way to make sure they have a fierce advocate by their side guiding through the maze of the legal system...more>

Oklahoma’s Top Court: Companies Can’t Set Own Rules for Injured Workers

A national campaign to rewrite state laws and allow businesses to decide how to care for their injured workers suffered a significant setback Tuesday when the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that Oklahoma’s version of the law is unconstitutional.

The 2013 legislation gave Oklahoma employers the ability to “opt out” of the state workers’ compensation system and write their own plans, setting the terms for what injuries were covered, which doctors workers could see, how workers were compensated and how disputes were handled. The statute was backed by the oil and gas industry and retailer Hobby Lobby.

Buoyed by the success in Oklahoma, proponents took the idea nationwide as a coalition led by Walmart, Lowe’s and several of the largest retail, trucking and health care companies sought to pass similar laws across the country. Bills and draft proposals have been floated in Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Illinois.

Last year, an investigation by ProPublica and NPR found that the plans typically had lower benefits and more restrictions than workers’ comp. The story was part of a series on how states have been dismantling workers’ comp, which was designed a century ago to protect businesses from lawsuits while providing medical care and lost wages to workers who had been hurt on the job.

Tuesday’s decision is the latest in a series of state Supreme Court rulings that have struck down several business-driven workers’ comp laws featured in the ProPublica and NPR investigation.

The Florida Supreme Court struck down laws that placed strict caps on attorney fees and limited workers to two years of temporary disability pay regardless of whether they were able to return to work. Two-year caps have also been passed in California, North Dakota, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Texas.

In addition, the top Oklahoma court in April overturned a provision that drastically cut compensation for workers who suffered permanently disabling injuries. Florida, New York and Tennessee have also significantly reduced benefits for such injuries in the past 13 years, but those provisions are still in place.

 

156,990 Fans WATCH NO.17 TENNESSEE RUN AWAY WITH A 45-24 WIN OVER VIRGINIA TECH. DAN CAPRON WAS RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF IT ALL.

Dan Capron kicked off the season in big style by refereeing the Saturday evening FBS game at the Bristol Motor Speedway. Dan said, "It was like no other game I've ever officiated. The noise level was out of control even considering how far back the crowd was from the field".


Dan Capron To Referee Capital One Orange Bowl – Dec 31, 2014

Dan Capron, partner at Capron & Avgerinos, P.C. in Chicago was just selected by the Big Ten Conference to referee the Capital One Orange Bowl on December 31, 2014. A workers’ compensation attorney for over 30 years, Capron has been officiating Big Ten football games since 2000.   

This year matches up No. 7 Mississippi State of the SEC with No. 12 Georgia Tech of the ACC for the classic New Years Eve bowl game. The NCAA mandates that bowl games be officiated by "neutral" crews with no connection to either of the participating teams or their conferences. Officiating assignments for post-season bowl games are performance based.  The Big Ten Conference compiles ratings on all of its officials and uses them as the basis for post-season assignments so that those games are staffed by the best-performing officials.

 

Dan Capron to Referee Texas Bowl

Senior partner Daniel F. Capron starts off the football season, serving as a referee in the Texas Bowl on Saturday, August 31st.  The Oklahoma State Cowboys and Mississippi State Bulldogs will square off at Reliant Stadium, as part of an ongoing series of Labor Day Kickoff games.  Capron serves as a referee in the Big Ten Conference and was president of the Big Ten Football Officials’ Association throughout 2011-2012.   We congratulate Dan on the honor of his selection to the Texas Bowl officiating crew.

 

Walmart Appeals Defeat Once Again

For the second time in a year, Walmart is attempting to overturn an award of benefits to our client whose employment was terminated while undergoing treatment and subject to light duty restrictions. The initial award was made by the Arbitrator in conformance with a recent Supreme Court decision which supported our position. The Commission reversed the Arbitrator but was then overturned by the Circuit Court in our favor. The case is now headed to the Appellate Court. The implications of the case are drawing considerable interest in the legal community given its impact on an employer's right to fire an employee who is restricted from work and undergoing medical treatment. Stephen Smalling recently presented the case in a seminar sponsored by the Ilinois Workers' Compensation Lawyers' Association. 

 

$1.75 Million Wrongful Death Settlement against JW Marriott

Our office was retained to represent the estate of a loving husband/father who died after contracting legionnaires' disease while visiting the JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Chicago. Legionnaires disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by a bacterium know as Legionella. Investigation revealed thebacterium likely developed in a lobby fountain of the newly renovated hotel. While the bacteria are found naturally in the environment, usually in water, high concentration of the organism can develop in water systems that are not properly maintained.

The claim was settled following two mediation sessions with representatives of the corporate defendant.

 

Dan Capron Part of 2013 Sugar Bowl Officiating Crew

Senior partner Daniel F. Capron was selected to referee the Sugar Bowl Game between the Louisville Cardinals and the Florida Gators on Jan. 2, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. College football bowl assignments are based on ratings during the regular season.  Capron serves as a referee in the Big Ten Conference and has been president of the Big Ten Football Officials’ Association throughout 2011-2012.   We congratulate Dan on the honor of his selection to the Sugar Bowl officiating crew.

 

Nick Avgerinos Speaks at Iowa Lawyers' Conference

Nick Avgerinos, senior partner, co-presented a talk on “independent” medical exams at the Iowa Association of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, held on October 18th and 19th.   Independent medical exams are a controversial topic in workers’ compensation law.  Nick’s co-presenters on this topic were Peter Thill, a Davenport attorney, and Jim Christenson, a Deputy Workers’ Compensation Commissioner in Des Moines.

 

Dan Capron to Referee Independence Bowl

Daniel F. Capron, partner and founder of Capron & Avgerinos, P.C. has been selected to referee the Independence Bowl between Missouri and North Carolina on December 26, 2011 in Shreveport, LA.  College football bowl assignments are based on ratings during the regular season.  Capron serves as a referee in the Big Ten Conference.

 

Nick Avgerinos Speaks at Iowa Conference

Nick Avgerinos, senior partner, spoke on April 9th to union counselors on the subject of “Key Questions to Expect in a Workers’ Compensation Claim."  The presentation and discussion were sponsored by the Union Counselors of Dubuque.

 

Steve Smalling Rides for Charity in Iowa Bike Touring Event

Steve Smalling, partner at Capron & Avgerinos, P.C., participated in Iowa’s famous RAGBRAI (the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Race Across Iowa), an annual seven-day, 468-mile bike race across the state—and the oldest and largest bicycle touring event in the world.    Ten thousand riders attend the race, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2012.  Approximately 20 charities receive contributions on behalf of the event, including Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Central Iowa Shelter & Services.

 

RAGBRAI’s charitable donations focus on programs that address children and family issues and community enrichment.   The ride begins near Iowa’s western border and ends at the eastern border at the Mississippi River.  The riders average 67 miles a day and bivouac in tents along the route.  Riders are selected by lottery.   Congratulations to Steve on his community spirit and his endurance!   For more information about RAGBRAI, visit www.ragbrai.com.

 

 

Sweeping Changes to Workers' Compensation Act in Illinois

The Illinois Legislature has passed sweeping changes to the Workers’ Compensation Act that significantly affect the rights of injured workers. Substantive changes to the workers' compensation system were signed into law by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn on June 28, 2011.   Here is a list of the most important factors that will change, along with those matters that remain the same:

NO CHANGE IN THE LAW:

1. Notice: The law continues to require that notice of an accident be given within 45 days of the injury. Notice should be given to a supervisor, foreman or plant medical department. Notice need not be in writing.  Notice to a co-worker is insufficient. 

2. Filing a claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission:

The law continues to require that a claim be filed within three years from the date of the accident or two years from the date on which compensation benefits are last paid, whichever is later. Merely notifying your employer of the accident and filling out an accident report or insurance form does not constitute filing a claim.

3. Consult an attorney: An injured worker continues to have the right to consult an attorney without fear of retaliation or discharge.

4. Benefits when unable to work: Injured workers are still entitled to receive two-thirds of their gross average weekly wage for as long as they are unable to work. These benefits remain nontaxable and are payable only if the injured worker is disabled for more than three working days.

5. Vocational Rehabilitation: An injured worker may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation or job retraining if permanently unable to return to his/her former job and the employer cannot accommodate the restrictions.

6. Additional Benefits: The changes in the law do not affect any potential claims against third parties, or the potential right to receive Social Security Disability benefits.

Important Changes

Old Law: Temporary Partial Disability

Temporary partial disability (paid when someone has returned to work while still under medical care but is earning less than before the accident) was 66 2/3% of the difference between gross pre-accident earnings and the current net earnings.

New Law: Temporary Partial Disability

Temporary partial disability is 66, 2/3% of the difference between gross pre-accident earnings and current gross earnings (thus lowering the amount the injured worker receives).

Old Law: Carpal Tunnel

Permanent disability awards for carpal tunnel syndrome caused by repetitive trauma were not capped, except that a hand was worth a maximum of 205 weeks of compensation.

New Law: Carpal Tunnel

Reduces the value of a hand in carpal tunnel cases to 190 weeks; caps awards at 15% loss, not to exceed 30% loss if good cause shown.

Old Law: No AMA Guidelines

AMA Guidelines were not used to determine disability.

New Law: AMA Guidelines Must Be Considered

Requires Commission to consider AMA Guidelines (along with other factors) in making its determination of permanent partial disability.

Old Law: Medical Provider

Injured worker had choice of two medical providers, plus any referrals.

New Law: Medical Provider

Injured worker has one choice of medical provider, plus any referrals.  In addition, injured worker can utilize employer established PPO.

Old Law:  Regarding PPO

No PPO programs.

New Law: Regarding PPO

Allows employers to establish PPO programs for injured workers.  If employer has PPO, it counts as one of injured worker’s two choices, regardless of whether worker treats there.

Old Law: Wage Differential

An injured worker who obtains a new job that pays less than the pre-injury job(s) may be entitled to receive a wage differential for the duration of the disability of 66-2/3% of the difference between the amount the worker earns in the new job and the amount the worker would be earning in the old job(s)

New Law: Wage Differential

Reduces the period for which a "wage differential award" can be paid to age 67 or five years after the award becomes final, whichever is later.

Old Law: Fee Schedule

Medical treatments provided after February 1, 2006 are subject to a medical fee schedule.

New Law:  Fee Schedule

Reduces the amounts paid to treating doctors by 30% across the board, thus potentially reducing the number of qualified doctors who are willing to accept workers’ comp patients.

Old Law: Intoxication

Intoxication barred claim if it was the sole cause of the accident or so excessive it constituted a departure from employment.

New Law:  Intoxication

Mandates that any injured worker who refuses a blood or urine test shall be presumed to have been intoxicated, thereby resulting in a denial of compensation unless the injured worker can prove that he/she was not intoxicated.

 

Daniel F. Capron Elected President of Big Ten Association

Daniel F. Capron, a senior partner and founder of Capron & Avgerinos, P.C. has been elected president of the Big Ten Football Officials’ Association for the 2011-2012 year.  Dan is entering his 12th season as a Big Ten football official.   The Big Ten Football Association consists of 56 members of the Big Ten football officiating staff, coming from all states of the Big Ten, from Pennsylvania to Nebraska.

 

To see Dan in action on the field as a Big Ten Referee, click here.

 

Spilling the Beans: Truth About the McDonald's Hot Coffee Suit

Get the real story on Monday, June 27 at 8:00 PM Central on HBO.  The notorious case of the elderly woman who spilled a scalding cup of coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonald’s has become legend in America’s popular culture.   The victim, Stella Liebeck, became the brunt of jokes and scathing comments by comedians and the media alike.    But who was really at fault in this landmark legal case?   Filmmaker and trial lawyer Susan Saladoff gives us a fresh look at the Liebeck case and others in her new film, Hot Coffee.   This riveting documentary shows how America’s corporations manipulate the media and attempt to undermine the legal system. http://hotcoffeethemovie.com/

Starting with the McDonald’s coffee case, Saladoff highlights stories of four different individuals to show exactly why Americans should exercise their right to seek damages for injuries.  She also features Mississippi judge, Oliver Diaz, a character in the John Grisham novel, The Appeal, whose reputation was smeared when it became evident that he would not toe the line in favor of business interests. 

 Not only does Hot Coffee refute allegations of frivolous lawsuits, it spotlights average citizens who have been injured, defamed, and beaten down by a justice system that corporate interests have eroded.  The film is an official selection of the prestigious 2011 Sundance Film Festival, a Discovery Channel Award Winner, and has been honored with 12 other cinematic awards for artistic excellence.

 

Dan Capron Assigned to Champs Sports Bowl Officiating Crew

Senior partner Dan Capron has been selected as the alternate official for the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Florida on December 28, 2010.  The game will feature West Virginia University from the Big East Conference and North Carolina State from the ACC.  Bowl assignments are made based upon individual ratings compiled during the course of the regular season and are reflective of each official’s commitment to excellence.  We congratulate Dan on the honor of his selection to the Champs Sports Bowl officiating crew.

 

Safety Report Highlights Workplace Perils

The 2010 AFL-CIO Health and Safety Report, The Toll of Neglect, underscores the risks that workers face on the job: serious injury, illness, and even death.  In 2008, more than 4.6 million workers across all industry sectors—private and public--had work-related injuries and illnesses reported by employers. 

What’s more, the incisive report reveals that this number is possibly a conservative estimate. Flaws in the injury reporting system and the under-reporting of workplace injuries indicate that the true toll is estimated to be two to three times greater—or 9 million to 14 million injuries and illnesses a year. 

The AFL-CIO research reveals that:

- "In 2008, the most recent year for which job fatality data is available, 5,214 workers died on the job as a result of traumatic injuries. Although worker deaths have declined since 2007, when 5,657 fatal injuries were reported, on average 14 workers die every day because of on-the-job injuries."  

- "The cost of job injuries and illnesses is enormous—estimated at $156 billion to $312 billion a year for direct and indirect costs of disabling injuries." 

The report calls for citizens, corporations, and lawmakers to renew our nation’s commitment to protect workers from injury.  For a full copy of the document, including state-by-state statistics, visit http://www.aflcio.org/issues/safety/memorial/doj_2010.cfm

 

Capron & Avgerinos: 'Tis the Season

This holiday season, Capron & Avgerinos remembers those who need our support.   Our firm’s charitable giving this year extends to several organizations that benefit families and children.

We are a continuing sponsor of the Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade, an event that provides holiday toys for children.   Every December, thousands of Chicagoland motorcyclists participate in the world’s largest motorcycle parade, collecting toys for needy children in schools, hospitals, and orphanages.    Many of the riders are veterans of the armed services.  We are proud to support them and the Motorcycle Parade, which delivers the toys for distribution to the United States Marine CorpsReserves Toys for Tots program.   Go to http://www.chicagolandtft.org/ for more information about this exciting event.

Capron & Avgerinos also contributes to Sudden Infant Death Services of Illinois, an organization that supports families touched by the tragedy of SIDS.  Donations go to educate professionals about SIDS, create community awareness, and eliminate other infant deaths through research.  For more information about this important issue, visit http://www.sidsillinois.org.

Finally, we support the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that provides research and education about CHARGE, a complex collection of genetic birth defects that affects 1 in 10,000 children with extensive medical and physical difficulties.  For more information about CHARGE and its diagnosis and management, visit http://www.chargesyndrome.org/index.asp.

In sum, we firmly believe in giving back to others, not only because we feel responsible for them, but because our contributions help strengthen the people and the communities that surround us.

 

 

C&A Spotlight: Meet Attorney Mike Rom

Mike Rom, workers’ compensation attorney, is a busy man.  He’s a new father, an avid Chicago Metropolitan Soccer League player (as well as an alumnus of Loyola University’s soccer team), and a volunteer at a local food pantry on Saturdays.  Yet, the adage, “If you want something done, ask a busy person,” is especially true of Mike:  He works tirelessly on behalf of his workers’ compensation claimants.

With single-mindedness developed during years of law practice and on the soccer field, Mike recently won a case for a 35 year old woman who had a knee injury at work.  She required a knee replacement, but the company had deemed the injury minor and denied the claim.  Mike tried the case, and with a doctor’s reports to substantiate the claim, proved that the injury the company dismissed as “minor” merited a knee replacement.  “Winning this case was rewarding, but what was also significant was that English was not my client’s first language.  To present the case, I worked with a professional translator to ensure that the facts were completely understood,” adds Mike, “What I like most about my work is that I can gain rightful compensation for my injured clients, especially those who cannot speak for themselves and might settle for less than they deserve.  Justice was served speedily in this case, and I’m very proud of that.”   To learn more about Mike’s credentials and background, click here.

 

C&A Contributes to Fight SIDS

Capron and Avgerinos contributes to Sudden Infant Death Services of Illinois, an organization that supports families touched by the tragedy of SIDS.  Donations go to educate professionals about SIDS, create community awareness, and eliminate other infant deaths through research.  For more information about this important issue, visit http://www.sidsillinois.org.

 

Tackling Concussions in Young Athletes

With the fall sports season in full swing, concussion among young athletes has become the hot topic among parents, coaches, school administrators, and the media.  The latest advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics?   Don’t “tough it out" if your young athlete has had a "blow to the head, face, neck, or elsewhere on the body, with impact transferred to the head."  Even a slight “ding” or low-grade blow can present complications. 

According to recent  American Academy of Pediatrics research, Sport-Related Concussion in Children and Adolescents, (September 1, 2010), "concussions represent an estimated 8.9% of all high school athletic injuries."   Young athletes are at a greater risk for sports-related concussions than college or professional athletes, because their brains are still developing.  The Academy found that "girls are reported to have a higher rate of concussion than boys in similar sports," with the highest rates occurring in soccer and girls’ basketball.  Among boys, football was the sport with the greatestrisk of concussion.  Sports such as hockey and lacrosse also have higher rates of concussion, but because they are often club sports, statistics on injuries are often not compiled with those of other high school sports. 

Cutting edge medical centers are leading the charge to address injuries in youth sports.  Former NHL players, coaches, and sports medicine specialists met at a symposium on Safety and Ice Hockey on October 13th at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to discuss measures for reducing the incidence of concussions and other serious injuries in youth hockey. 

With the national spotlight directly on this issue, Congress is considering concussion protections, such as rules for diagnosing concussions and guidelines about when a young athlete can return to play.  Two separate bills in the House of Representatives, the Concussion and Care Tools Act and the Protecting Students from Concussions Act, call for guidelines for increased safety awareness, prevention, and management ofconcussions in athletes from ages 5 to 18 in all sports.   To learn more about the legislation being proposed, read House Bills 1347 or 6172.

 

Dan Capron Elected Officer in Big Ten Association

Senior partner and firm co-founder Dan Capron practices his avocation as a Big Ten Football referee—all while making the right calls for his workers’ compensation clients.  The past July, Dan was elected vice-president of the Big Ten Football Officials’ Association at the organization’s annual clinic in Providence, RI.  At the clinic, Dan was also recognized for having completed 10 years of service as a Big Ten football official.   The Big Ten Football Association consists of 50 members of the Big Ten football officiating staff.  Dan will assume the responsibilities as president of the Association in July, 2011.  To see Dan in action on the field as a Big Ten Referee, click here.?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /

 

Dan Capron Gives Talk on Important Ruling

Senior partner Dan Capron spoke to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission Lawyers’ Association on July 13.  Dan'stalk, Intervening Injury: Breaking the Causal Connection, examined a significant ruling from the Appellate Court in a case he handled for an over-the-road truck driver.

When does an intervening injury or cause break the connection to the original accident or injury?  Dan’s case has implications for workers who incur an injury following a job-related injury.

Dan’s client, the truck driver, stopped to clean his wiper blades at a rest stop during a snowstorm, slipped off the bumper of his truck, and injured his lower back.  The company accepted responsibility for the claim, and the driver received physical therapy for the injury.  Several months later, the client was involved in an accident while riding a motorcycle and was hospitalized with a significant increase in his lower back pain.  The company denied further workers’ compensation payments based on the fact that the intervening accident served to break the chain of causation with the initial work accident.

The client’s case moved from the Workers’ Compensation Commission, where it was denied, to the Circuit Court, where the decision to deny benefits was overturned.  Two doctors found that the original work accident remained a contributing factor.  The company then filed an appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court, which affirmed the Circuit Court’s decision, holding that the driver was entitled to the continued payment of compensation benefits. 

During his talk to the Association, Dan provided attendees with a detailed perspective of the case and answered questions concerning the complex issues surrounding the Appellate Court’s ruling.  Members of the Association and staff of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission received a Continuing Legal Education credit for attending the seminar.

 

Nick Avgerinos Speaks at Iowa Conference

Nick Avgerinos, senior partner, spoke in May at the Iowa Community Services Conference on “Ten Things To Do if You’re Injured on the Job.  Community leaders, union stewards, and business agents from all regions of Iowa attended the conference sponsored by United Way Services and the Dubuque Federation of Labor & Union Counselors Association of Dubuque.

 

Capron & Avgerinos Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

December 15, 2009 marks Capron & Avgerinos’ 20 successful years of practicing workers’ compensation and personal injury law.  We founded our business to provide the highest quality of legal assistance to those who are injured.

Fast forward 20 years. After representing thousands of clients, speaking at events to educate workers on their rights,and driving thousands of miles throughout Iowa and Illinois to courthouses and hearing sites, we are still energized and enthused every morning when we walk into the office.

Our passion for providing quality legal representation still is alive at Capron & Avgerinos today. We embrace every case with the same care and attention to detail as we did in the early days of our firm.

The key to our business is that we’ve adapted to changes in the marketplace and the legal profession, while always staying focused on the needs of our clients.

With your continuing support, colleagues and friends, we’re committed to success every day. We’re aiming for another wonderful twenty years—and more. Let us hear from you!

Sincerely,

Nick J. Avgerinos,

Dan F. Capron,

Stephen J. Smalling,

and Michael A. Rom

 

Pressure on Healthcare Practitioners to Downplay Work Injuries

More than two-thirds of occupational health practitioners said that they observed employees’ fear of disciplinary action for reporting a work-related illness or injury, reveals the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in an eye-opening report.    ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /

 

The GAO report underscores the reasons why it can be critical to consult a qualified legal advisor and seek objective medical advice if you are injured at work.

 

Fifty-three percent of occupational health practitioners surveyed by the GAO said that they experienced pressure from company officials to downplay injuries or illnesses.  What’s more, forty-seven percent of health practitioners reported that they experienced this pressure to downplay injuries from workers themselves.  

 

The GAO reported that the pressure may be compounded by safety incentive programs at work that reward employees—and teams—who have fewer injuries.  Also, in some industries, such as construction, a company’s safety record can affect the way a firm is ranked competitively during the contract bidding process.

 

Health practitioners surveyed also noted that employers may seek out alternative opinions if the initial diagnosis would result in a recordable injury or illness.  For example, one practitioner said that an injured worker’s manager took the worker to multiple healthcare providers until the manager found one who would certify that treatment of the injury required only first aid, which is not a recordable injury. 

 

The GAO surveyed more than 1,000 occupational health practitioners. For a full copy of the report, visit

 http://edlabor.house.gov/documents/111/pdf/publications/GAO-OSHA-200910.pdf.

 

Pain, Pain Go Away: Innovative Methods for Treating Chronic Pain

Chronic pain sufferers may feel exhausted, depressed, and unable to carry on their daily activities.   But The Wall Street Journal reports that a handful of new treatment techniques—some adapted from the field of anesthesiology—now promise hope for those who experience long-term, debilitating pain.

These new therapies generally share a goal of keeping pain signals from reaching the brain. Devices implanted in the body can send electrical impulses to stimulate nerves, deliver medication to a pain site, such as a joint, or send signals that can block pain.   These methods could provide relief for the more than 76.5 million Americans who experience chronic pain—in their head, neck, shoulders, knees, and back.

The Wall Street Journal points out, “Many of the so-called interventional pain management procedures are controversial because they can be expensive and there is not enough research in some cases to support their effectiveness.”   Infection, bleeding or damage to nerves are also risks with techniques that require surgery or invasive procedures.    ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /

Some patients may balk at the costs of such treatments, estimated to range from $15,000 to $50,000, including equipment, surgery and anesthesia. However, a neurosurgeon cited in The Journal said that in the case of nerve stimulation, a patient might break even in two years, because the pain treatments could reduce doctor’s visits, medication costs, and the use of medical resources.  Some interventional pain treatments may be covered under Medicare and many private insurance plans.  

To learn more about what The Wall Street Journal has to say about the pros and cons of these new methods, click here. 

 

Summer's Here: Watch Your Back!

A back injury can take the steam out of your personal or working life.  Whether you do physical labor for a living or are simply tackling home improvement projects, summer is prime time for back injuries.    The Center to Protect Workers’ Rights (CPWR) http://www.cpwr.com/pdfs/pubs/hazard_alerts/hazback.pdf provides common sense rules to keep your back in top shape—on or off the job.  ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /

Research shows that most back injuries are caused by lifting, lowering, carrying, pushing, and pulling objects.  Here are ten tips from the CPWR to reduce the risk of injuring your back:

 

1.    Cut down on carrying.  Have materials delivered close to where they will be used.

2.    Try to store materials and heavy tools at waist height.

3.    Rest when you are tired.

4.    Keep sidewalks and passageways clear and dry.

5.    Use carts, dollies, wheelbarrows, or other aids to move materials.

6.    Don’t lift anything more than 50 pounds by yourself; ask for help.

7.    Don’t twist when lifting or lowering materials.

8.    If you’re lifting something off the ground, don’t bend at the waist.  Knee on one knee to hoist up the load.

9.    Lift with your thigh and leg muscles.

10. Keep the load as close to your body as you can.

 

Not surprisingly, back injury is the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 years old.* Your back takes part in almost every move you make; taking proper precautions, you can preserve it for years to come. 

 

*National Centers for Health Statistics, Chartbook on Trends in the Health of Americans 2006, Special Feature: Pain.  Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus06.pdf.