How to Handle Workplace Injuries Resulting from Marijuana Usage

Election Day 2016 is just over a month away, and the potential for legalized marijuana - both medicinal and recreational - should be weighing on your mind as a business owner. Employee safety is one of the biggest concerns that we hear from small business owners. There is a commitment to safety and a genuine concern for all employees - everyone should return home as healthy as they were when they reported for their shift.   But, what happens if an employee is injured and a post-accident drug screen shows marijuana metabolite levels? Surprisingly, the claim could be allowed by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). Why? Because during the initial review done by the BWC, they have no way of knowing just how impaired the individual was at the time of the injury. While this can typically be the case for any controlled substances including alcohol, marijuana poses a problem because it stays in the system far longer than other substances, making it difficult to prove the level of impairment. 

Election Day 2016 is just over a month away, and the potential for legalized marijuana - both medicinal and recreational - should be weighing on your mind as a business owner. Employee safety is one of the biggest concerns that we hear from small business owners. There is a commitment to safety and a genuine concern for all employees - everyone should return home as healthy as they were when they reported for their shift.  

But, what happens if an employee is injured and a post-accident drug screen shows marijuana metabolite levels? Surprisingly, the claim could be allowed by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). Why? Because during the initial review done by the BWC, they have no way of knowing just how impaired the individual was at the time of the injury. While this can typically be the case for any controlled substances including alcohol, marijuana poses a problem because it stays in the system far longer than other substances, making it difficult to prove the level of impairment. 

In order to protect your business, the BWC decision will need to be appealed and this is where an effective post accident drug screen policy is critical—  Two important steps to remember - the drug screen needs to be done immediately after the injury  and you should also ask supervisors and co-workers if the injured employee was displaying any behaviors that raise suspicion of being impaired.  

A copy of the medical records, complete drug testing results (which could be over 100 pages), custody control forms and procedure and policy documentation from the lab will all need to be obtained and then reviewed by an independent medical examiner (IME).  

The IME should be able to provide an expert medical opinion as to whether the employee was impaired at the time of the injury. He/she will take several important factors into consideration—was the drug test obtained in the proper fashion?  Was it indeed positive?  In the case of marijuana, what was the marijuana metabolites level?  Did the individual’s behavior or actions suggest some degree of poor judgment or poor reaction time?  

Workplace example

Let’s think about an employee in a manufacturing facility who is working with machinery. A belt comes off of a conveyor and the employee attempts to fix it without turning off the machine. His hand is caught, causing a crushing injury.

He is taken to an emergency room for an examination. Company policy requires post-accident drug testing, so a urine drug test is collected upon arrival, which is approximately an hour after the injury occurred. Even though the drug test was positive for marijuana, the BWC allowed the claim for the diagnosed conditions as it didn’t have access to the detailed lab results and specific metabolites level. In order to have a chance at a successful appeal, the employer obtained a file review and provided the IME with the lab documentation and witness statements.

The IME’s expert opinion, based on the marijuana metabolite levels and the employee’s poor judgment and delayed reaction, is that the employee was impaired at the time of injury. While there is never a guarantee of success, obtaining expert medical opinions gives you the best shot of a positive outcome upon appeal.

COSE recommends voting NO on Issue 3 (the marijuana legalization issue) and YES on Issue 2 (which would limit monopolies and oligopolies in Ohio).   


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  • Next up: How to Implement HTTPS Security on Your Website

    How to Implement HTTPS Security on Your Website

    Is your website as secure as possible? If it isn't, you could be compromising your content and turning away customers. Read on to learn the importance of implementing HTTPS security on your site.

    A recent KPMG study found that more than half (55%) of consumers have decided against buying something online because of security concerns. One way to allay those concerns is to implement HTTPS security on your site.

    To learn a little bit more about HTTPS and how small businesses can utilize it on their own websites, we turned to COSE member Vince Salvino of CodeRed to answer six questions we had about the importance of HTTPS.

    Question No. 1: What is HTTPS?

    Salvino: HTTPS is a secure way of accessing a website. It works using an encryption mechanism called an SSL certificate. You will usually see a green lock icon or green “Secure” status in the top left corner of your browser when visiting websites using HTTPS. If a site has HTTPS improperly configured or invalid, then you will see a big red “Danger” status in your browser.

    Question No. 2: What additional security layers does it provide?

    Salvino: Simply put, HTTPS provides encryption for everything you view or send on the internet. Think of it like mailing a letter: if you mail a postcard, anyone who touches or comes across that postcard can read what you wrote on the back. You certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable writing private correspondence, or very important information such as credit card, social security number, etc. on the back of a postcard. That is how HTTP works. With HTTPS, it is equivalent to mailing a letter in a sealed security envelope. No one is able to read what is inside it, and if the seal has been broken, then the recipient knows that the letter has been tampered with.

    Question No. 3: Should all businesses have HTTPS on their site?

    Salvino: Absolutely. If you take payments, have a login, or have any type of form on your website, then it is imperative that you use HTTPS. As a matter of fact, browsers such as Firefox now warn the user with an ugly error message if they try to use a password on a site that does not have HTTPS enabled. But even if your website does not contain sensitive information, most people still feel more comfortable knowing their connection is secure. This is not just an IT issue anymore—even non-technical folks have become aware to look for the little green lock when browsing the web. This point frequently comes up on the evening news when talking about the latest data breach, or during the big shopping seasons.

    Question No. 4: Is it difficult to set up?

    Salvino: It is relatively simple to set up. Any web developer or IT department would be able to set this up. Even do-it-yourself website hosts such as GoDaddy offer SSL certificates for less than $100 per year and provide instructions on how to set it up. At CodeRed, we provide this to all of our clients for free—that is how fundamental SSL is to online security.

    Question No. 5: Will visitors notice anything different on my site after it is set up?

    Salvino: It is relatively seamless. Visitors will notice that nice green lock or “Secure” status in their browser. Just be sure to renew your SSL certificate every year—if it expires, the browser will show a warning to visitors.

    Question No. 6: Are there any additional benefits to setting up HTTPS (does Google rank your pages differently, will customers be more apt to buy from me if they see it on my site, etc.?)

    Salvino: In addition to the security and peace of mind of your visitors, there are additional benefits as well. Google ranks sites higher that use HTTPS versus sites without it. There are rumors that in the future, Google will more severely penalize sites without it as a way of forcing website owners to use HTTPS. This probably won’t happen in the near future, but it emphasizes just how important web security is. Also, if you process credit cards or have HIPAA (health care) data, you are required to use encryption when processing this information to maintain compliance.

    Vince Salvino is the owner of CodeRed, a Cleveland-based technology firm specializing in secure Web development and cloud services.


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  • Next up: Tips for your Business: How to keep people coming back to your website

    Tips for your Business: How to keep people coming back to your website

    Your new website went live to rave reviews. But now time has passed and it is just sitting there, static, and new visitors have dropped off significantly. How do you keep your website content fresh and add features that keep your customers and others coming back again and again? Here are seven quick and cost-effective ideas on how to take your website to the next level.

    Your new website went live to rave reviews. But now time has passed and it is just sitting there, static, and new visitors have dropped off significantly. How do you keep your website content fresh and add features that keep your customers and others coming back again and again? Here are seven quick and cost-effective ideas on how to take your website to the next level:

    • Make an Offer. Include discount offers through pop-ups or coupons on the homepage. Regularly changing the offer or discount will keep customers coming back.
    • Direct Traffic. Add links to your homepage to allow visitors to easily view new content or quickly access well-trafficked areas. Don’t hesitate to add links to other websites for the convenience of your customers.
    • Make it Visual. Make your content pop by adding video of customer testimonials, tutorials or even fun employee videos.
    • Create Shareable Content. In the world of social media, sharable content is king. Your content should be easily sharable so your readers can spread your messages for you. 
    • Recycle. Include links to articles of interest or archives from your e-news or other marketing materials. Recycling previously published information is a great way to grow a database of practical information and advice.
    • Add Convenience. Add online purchasing/shopping functionality that can bring a new level of customer convenience while increasing sales revenues.
    • Get the 411. Include a quick survey on your site to get to know your customers better.

    Communicating regularly with current and potential customers, vendors and business associates is essential in today’s hectic business environment, and your website should be a key component in that communication. Kick your website up a notch by enhancing your website beyond the basics.

    This article originally appeared in the July 27, 2015, edition of Small Business Matters.


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  • Next up: 3(ish) Minutes: How to Make Your Business Stand Out

    3(ish) Minutes: How to Make Your Business Stand Out

    Here's what you need to do to make your business stand out from all of the clutter.


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  • Next up: How to Reaffirm Customer Relationships

    How to Reaffirm Customer Relationships

    So you’ve closed a big sale and you’re feeling great. However, the hard work isn't over.  What is your plan for reaffirming customer relationships after the sale is closed?  It's absolutely essential that you develop a plan that will aid you in customer retention because your current customer base is, by far, your most profitable group and where the majority of your future sales will come from. 

    So you’ve closed a big sale and you’re feeling great. However, the hard work isn't over.  What is your plan for reaffirming customer relationships after the sale is closed?  It's absolutely essential that you develop a plan that will aid you in customer retention because your current customer base is, by far, your most profitable group and where the majority of your future sales will come from. 

    There are at least six opportunities to let your customers know that they made the right choice by working with you. If you fail to act, they could become susceptible to buyer’s remorse. Here are some ways you can enhance your customer's experience with you and your company.

    1. Once the sale has been closed, verbally tell your customers that they made an excellent choice and why. The “why” is critical – it explains how the product or service will make their lives easier from here on out.
    2. Within 72 hours after the sale, call your customers or send them a card or email that contains another thank you along with some type of reassuring message, letting them know you have not forgotten about them.
    3. Three weeks post-sale, you should have another planned follow-up meeting or call scheduled to check in to see how they are doing with the product or service they purchased from you. 
    4. Hopefully, after you closed the initial sale, you scheduled a check-up with your customers 30, 60 or 90 days post-sale to make sure that they are satisfied and all expectations have been met. You can also use that meeting to see if there are any additional products or services that could benefit the customer and explore internal and external referral opportunities.
    5. The next contact is ongoing. Look for opportunities to stay in touch with your customers. You don’t want to give the perception that the only time you make contact is when you want something. Examples include: Call or send a card on their birthday; cut the article out about them or their company and send it over to them with a personal note; schedule informative quarterly workshops or lunch and learns that are free to attend but beneficial for their industry; or just call to say “Hi.”
    6. I love this last one. At year's end, do something nice to show your customers how much you appreciated their business. Send them a nice card or a little gift to show your appreciation to them.

    Don’t forget that every time you make a customer contact, not only does it reaffirm the relationship, but it puts you and your company back in forefront of their minds and provides you with an opportunity to build onto the existing relationship.

    About Marvin

    For more than 30 years, Marvin Montgomery has earned national recognition for his informative, practical and stimulating sales training programs. His presentations have helped hundreds of organizations meet or exceed their sales goals. In addition to his training programs, Marvin provides keynote addresses, public workshops and presentations for organizations of all sizes.   He is the author of “Practice Makes Perfect: The Professional’s Guide to Sales Success” and the soon to be released book, “Training Wheels.” He is also a regular contributor to local magazines and newspapers, including Smart Business Cleveland and Smart Business Akron/CantonCOSE Update and The Plain Dealer.


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  • Next up: How to Rethink Your Brand

    How to Rethink Your Brand

    When it comes to branding, small business owners sabotage themselves in several ways. Some simply think too small. They don’t have a big idea or a clear vision, they allow their lack of current resources and abilities to determine the size of their goal.

    When it comes to branding, small business owners sabotage themselves in several ways. Some simply think too small. They don’t have a big idea or a clear vision, they allow their lack of current resources and abilities to determine the size of their goal.

    Several years ago I interviewed Brian Scudamore, the founder of 1-800 GOT JUNK, a business he started with $1,000 as an 18-year-old student trying to pay his way through college. After eight years in business, Brian described how he felt stuck. His business had plateaued at $1 million in revenue and he had no idea what to do.

    In our interview, Brian described to me how he allowed himself to think about what the business could become without regard for how he would get there. As he let his mind run free, he began to imagine his fledgling trash hauling business as the “FedEx of junk removal”. He began to imagine a large scale business with clean shiny trucks and well-mannered drivers who were committed to customer service. He created what he calls his “painted picture,” a clear vision that enabled him to become the world’s largest junk removal business with more than $100 million in annual revenue.

    Others don’t understand their “why.” They never take the time to truly understand the value of their product or service from the customer’s point of view. They tend to think in transactional terms, often trying to be all things to all people rather than serving a niche.

    In his book Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, author Simon Sinek says “People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.” Without clarity around the “why” it’s difficult to create a meaningful brand. And, needless to say, if the founder doesn’t understand their WHY, it is unlikely they will be able to communicate it to others. 

    Gary Schoeniger is the founder and CEO of the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative. He will also be one of the three keynotes at BizConCLE, the conference that comprises the Small Business Convention, on October 13-14. 

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