Wednesday, June 10, 2015

From Safety 2015: Leverage Safety Collaboration With Occupational Health Professionals

In his June 9 session at Safety 2015, “10 Ways to Leverage Safety Collaboration With Occupational Health Professionals,” Peter Greaney, M.D., highlighted the most prevalent obstacles to managing work-related injuries and illnesses, and suggested ways that safety practitioners can collaborate with occupational health professionals to improve health outcomes.

Greaney’s 10 recommendations:
  1. Improve your knowledge of workers’ compensation. Dive deeper into state specific rules and insurance coverage, and know the fundamentals of claims management.
  2. Use metrics to support collaboration and benchmark performance in order to overcome operational silos.
  3. Use qualified occupational health providers. Injured workers should be treated by providers with expertise in occupational medicine.
  4. Use standardized treatment protocols following evidence-based guidelines.
  5. Instill a workplace culture of safety and health, starting at the top.
  6. Recognize the factors that contribute to a disabled mind set to help avoid “medicalization.”
  7. Educate employees to establish realistic recovery expectations.
  8. Establish a return to work program. Consistently apply the return to work policy, and ensure that workers are educated about its purpose.
  9. Follow a process for effective case management.
  10. Create an environment in which innovation can flourish. This can be the most challenging task, Greaney says, “because it requires being receptive to new ways of approaching persistent problems and willingness to accept some degree of risk.”

To help minimize the impacts of injury, illness, impairment and aging in the workforce, Greaney recommends using a cross-disciplinary approach. In addition to OSH professionals, physicians and case managers, he says, the collaborative team may also include human resources and risk managers, supervisors, physical therapists, athletic trainers and behavioral health experts.

This session was recorded during Safety 2015 and is available for purchase on