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Frequently Asked Questions

Occupational Health FAQ's

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Occupational Medicine?

What are employer’s responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)?

Why is an occupational health program important to an employer’s bottom line?

Are appointments required to utilize your occupational health program?

What if my employee gets injured after-hours?

What is the difference between first aid and a recordable event?

How soon after you see our employee following a work-related injury can we expect to receive information regarding their work status?

Why is pre-employment screening/testing a good idea?

We are considering steps to put a drug-free workplace program in place. What kind of assistance can OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH provide?

If we decide to perform drug and/or alcohol testing, how are those results reported?

What kind of wellness services do you offer to employers?

Our company falls under the OSHA respirator standard. What kind of services do you provide to assist us in complying with this standard?

Due to noise levels in certain areas of our plant, our company must have annual audiograms performed on several positions in our company. How is OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH able to assist us?

Q: What is Occupational Medicine?

A: Occupational medicine, also referred to as occupational health, has a long history in the United States. Historically, only large corporations could afford the luxury of their own occupational health program. However, with the proliferation of hospital-based and private occupational health programs, even the smallest companies have access to occupational health professionals.

Occupational health programs are designed to improve the health of the working population, help prevent work-related illness and injury, treat employees who are injured or become sick on the job, perform much needed medical surveillance services and increase the efficiency and productivity of organization. Occupational medicine is a unique sub-specialty in medicine because of the broad spectrum of knowledge, as well as the nature of its customer base. In addition to providing medical care to workers with work-related injuries and illnesses, specialists in occupational medicine also work with businesses, employees, regulators, insurers, public health and other occupational safety and health professionals to create safer workplaces.

Q: What are employer’s responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)?

A: Employers have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace and must provide their workers with a workplace that does not have serious hazards. This can best be achieved by following all OSHA safety and health standards, including finding and correcting safety and health problems. OSHA further requires that employers must first try to eliminate or reduce hazards by making feasible changes in working conditions rather than rely on personal protective equipment, such as masks, gloves, or earplugs. Switching to safer chemicals, enclosing processes to trap harmful fumes, or using ventilation systems to clean the air are examples of effective ways to eliminate or reduce risks.

Q: Why is an occupational health program important to an employer’s bottom line?

A: Workplace injuries are very expensive and have a direct impact on the profitability of your company. However, the direct costs of injuries that are easy to measure (i.e., cost of medical care, costs related to insurance, etc.) are small when compared to the indirect costs related to the injury. These costs include disruptions that occur at the workplace due to the loss of a worker, retraining costs, and loss of productivity.

When injuries do occur, an experienced occupational medicine provider will use a collaborative approach and partner with the worker, the employer, the worker’s compensation insurer and the medical system to help the injured worker regain his or her health or mobility and return them to work as quickly and safely as possible. In addition, occupational health programs can reduce liability for employers related to health and safety.

Q: Are appointments required to utilize your occupational health program?

A: In many cases, it will be to your advantage to make an appointment at one of our conveniently located clinics. We recommend appointments so that your employees can be cared for in a timelier manner. If employees do not have appointments, they will need to wait behind those who do have appointments. Also, we prioritize new injury cases, especially if they are of a serious nature. While we do not require appointments for new injury visits, we do appreciate a call in advance to let our staff know the nature of the injury and the estimated time of arrival. If the injury is not serious, our staff may also be able to recommend a better time to send the employee if our clinic is extremely busy at that time. Appointments are not required for drug or alcohol testing, or for a follow-up reading of a TB test.

Q: What if my employee gets injured after-hours?

A: After hours care can be provided through our Emergency Departments at St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago, St Mary Medical Center in Hobart and Community Hospital in Munster. Our Munster clinic has extended hours, now closing at 7 p.m. We also have extended hours for injury care in our Immediate Care facility at our Valparaiso Health Center on Rt. 49. After-hours drug and alcohol testing services are provided through emergency department facilities at St. Catherine Hospital and St Mary Medical Center.

Q: What is the difference between first aid and a recordable event?

A: The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) specifies a range of services that constitute “first-aid” level of care. First aid is defined in OSHA Standard 1904.7 as:

  • Using a non-prescription medication at non-prescription strength. For medications available in both prescription and non-prescription form, a recommendation by a physician or other licensed health care professional to use a non-prescription medication at prescription strength is considered medical treatment for recordkeeping purposes.
  • Administering tetanus immunizations. Other immunizations, such as Hepatitis B vaccine or rabies vaccine, are considered medical treatment.Cleaning, flushing or soaking wounds on the surface of the skin.
  • Using wound coverings such as bandages, Band-Aids™, gauze pads, etc.; or using butterfly bandages or Steri-Strips™ Other wound closing devices such as sutures, staples, etc., are considered medical treatment.
  • Using hot or cold therapy; or any non-rigid means of support, such as elastic bandages, wraps, non-rigid back belts, etc. Devices with rigid stays or other systems designed to immobilize parts of the body are considered medical treatment for recordkeeping purposes.
  • Using temporary immobilization devices, such as splints, slings, neck collars, backboards, while transporting an accident victim.
  • Drilling of a fingernail or toenail to relieve pressure, or draining fluid from a blister.
  • Using eye patches or removing foreign bodies from the eye using only irrigation or a cotton swab.
  • Removing splinters or foreign material from areas other than the eye by irrigation, tweezers, cotton swabs or other simple means.
  • Using finger guards.
  • Using massages. Physical therapy or chiropractic treatment are considered medical treatment for recordkeeping purposes.
  • Drinking fluids for relief of heat stress.

Medical care that exceeds these first-aid measures can trigger a recordable event. According to OSHA, a recordable event is usually characterized by death, days away from work, restricted work, transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid, loss of consciousness, other serious or significant cases diagnosed by a physician or licensed health care professional (PLHCP), as well as other occupational injuries and illnesses that meet special recording criteria.

For more information about OSHA recordkeeping, please consult:
OSHA Standard 1904.7
OSHA’s Illness and Injury Recordkeeping Workbook or our Recordable vs Not Recordable chart (have link to our chart)

Q: How soon after you see our employee following a work-related injury can we expect to receive information regarding their work status?

A: A detailed work status report will be generated after the visit and provided shortly thereafter; no later than end of business day. Reports can be emailed or faxed.

Q: Why is pre-employment screening/testing a good idea?

A: Not screening applicants prior to employment increases your liability in a variety of ways. Pre-placement drug testing helps to assure that you are not hiring individuals who are impaired, which reduces your liability for drug related accidents. Performing pre-placement physical exams and/or physical abilities screenings will help determine an applicant's ability to physically perform the essential functions of the job, reducing the likelihood of injury. A thorough pre-employment screening process also helps to uncover previous injuries that might increase the applicants risk of work-related injury at their new job.

Q: We are considering steps to put a drug-free workplace program in place. What kind of assistance is OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH able to provide?

A: The most important step you can take in implementing a drug free workplace is to prepare a comprehensive written policy. At a minimum, this policy should outline why drug testing will be conducted, what those tests will include, the ramifications for being impaired at work, and how the employee can dispute the result of a positive test. Including your attorney during this process is highly recommended.

Once your policy is in place, OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH can assist you in setting up your program. We offer a full-spectrum of DOT and non-DOT drug and alcohol testing protocols, utilize certified collectors and have federally certified Medical Review Officers (MROs) on staff to certify your results. We can even set up and run your random testing pools, if you choose to implement a random testing program.

Q: If we decide to perform drug and/or alcohol testing, how are those results reported?

A: As soon as a result is confirmed by our MROs, our OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH team can report your result using our secure eScreen drug test management system. This system provides three options for our clients:

  1. Web Reporting: You will receive an email notification a result is available. You can then login to your myescreen.com account to retrieve your result and print for your files, if desired.
  2. Auto-FAX: The result will automatically be faxed to your secure fax machine.
  3. Voice Response: If you prefer not to use the Web and/or you don’t have a secure fax machine, you can call a toll-free number to retrieve your result and ask the result to be faxed to you.

Q: What kind of wellness services do you offer to employers?

A: Our organization offers a variety of wellness services, ranging from basic wellness screenings to very comprehensive incentive-based wellness initiatives. While our OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH team will be happy to provide basic wellness screenings, we partner with Community Healthcare System's New HealthyMe program for more elaborate offerings. for more elaborate offerings. New Healthy Me provides programs for companies who really want to impact the health and well-being of their workforce, as well as the healthcare-related costs that directly impact an employers’ bottom line.

Q: Our company falls under the OSHA respirator standard. What kind of services do you provide to assist us in complying with this standard?

A: We are able to review your completed OSHA respirator questionnaire for the purpose of medically clearing the employee to wear a respirator. In some cases, we may need to conduct additional screenings, such as pulmonary function testing, which is conducted by NIOSH- certified staff. It is also possible that an employee may need to be evaluated by one of our providers prior to clearing them. Once cleared, we have the capability to conduct either qualitative or quantitative respiratory fit tests (Note: some masks do not qualify for qualitative fit testing and must utilize the quantitative method).

Q: Due to the noise levels in certain areas of our plant, our company must have annual audiograms performed on several positions in our company. How is OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH able to assist us?

A: We utilize Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation (CAOHC)-certified staff to conduct our audiograms. Our equipment is also certified on an annual basis. All OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH clinics can conduct audiograms in limited cases, we can also come on-site to do your audiograms. While there is an additional cost, we are also able to run your OSHA Hearing Conservation program.