Weblog roundup: health care costs, OSHA, safety, case law, brokers, trends, & more

October 5th, 2005 by Julie Ferguson

Medical inflation – B. Janell Grenier at BenefitsBlog links to and comments on the 2006 Towers Perrin Health Care Cost Survey. One excerpt: “Employees are paying 64% more in health care costs today than they spent five years ago. Employers, meanwhile, are paying 78% more in health care costs today than five years ago.”
OSHA – thanks to Mike, one of our readers, who mailed us an interesting link to The Memory Hole which has posted OSHA data on companies with the highest levels of work-related injuries and illnesses. Background info: The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has for several years tracked lost work day injury and illness (LWDII) rates at about 80,000 worksites in selected high-hazard industries across the country. OSHA kept secret its LWDII database, claiming that the data are confidential. Reporter David Barstow of the New York Times, seeking the names and rates of the most injury- and illness-prone worksites, requested the data under the Freedom of Information Act in October 2002. His request was rejected, and when his appeal was also turned down, he sued for the release of the data in mid-2003. As a preemptive move, in February 2004 OSHA released a list of the workplaces with the highest rates, but the list didn’t contain the rates themselves. That list can be found on The Memory Hole here.
Work safety – if you are interested in workplace safety, Confined Space should be on your reading list. Here’s a sampling of a few recent items:
Pandemic Flu Awareness Week
W.R. Grace and the asbestos-containing vermiculite exposure at several sites
Worker fatalities that OSHA ignores
New Jersey invites worker participation in chemical plant inspections
George’s Employment Blawg. Congratulations to George, Michael, and Catherine on a spiffy new look and a new site address. This is one of our favorite reads – always a good quality of information to be found.
Management – Rita Schwab of MSSPNexus offers 10 Easy Ways to Know You’re Not a Leader. If you identify with that post and want to turn over a new leaf, start with her post on Developing Effective Communication Skills.
Case law – Judge Vonada’s Pennyslvania Workers’ Compensation Journal deals with recent court rulings. The Sept 12 post deals with a case where an employee suspension was reversed due to the employer’s failure to file a Notice Of Ability To Return To Work prior the suspension. The September 3rd post deals with the case of a volunteer who was denied workers comp when he was injured while performing community service.
Health Law – via HealthLawProf Blog, an overview of the Supreme Court’s Health Law Docket, 2005 Term.
Agent domino effect – Bob Sargent of the Specialty Insurance Blog discusses the so-called agent domino effect in relation to insurance agents and their state-to-state regulatory requirements. “The failure to report an insurance regulatory violation by an insurance agent or broker (“producer”) can lead to violations in other states.
Disintermediation out, personalized service in – Anita Campbell posts on a trend that should offer some welcome news to independent agents and consultants: anti-disinternediation. For some time, it was thought the Web might empower consumers, rendering many intermediaries superfluous. Anita discusses how this concept has played out over time. While it may be true for commodity types of products and services, it has not proven true for more complex services – indeed, there may be an increasing trend to personalized service.
Salary planning – Diane Pfadenhauer of Strategic HR Lawyer reminds us that it is the time of the year when many companies should be planning for 2006 salary increases. Raises are likely to fall in the 3.5 to 3.8% range, with variable compensation increasing to about 11.4% of payroll, up from 9.5% in 2004.