News updates: industry buzz, Kansas legislation, eye safety, and more

March 20th, 2006 by Julie Ferguson

Industry buzzIs there a St. Paul Travelers and Zurich merger afoot? Despite a recent Wall St. Journal article saying this was under discussion, the companies say no. Something to keep an eye on. Meanwhile, Joe Paduda tells us that long-time CEO of the Louisiana Workers Compensation Commission (LWCC) Steve Cavanaugh is moving to a start-up in Texas, and Kristen Wall, LWCC’s current COO will be taking the helm.
Eye safety – March has been designated as Workplace Eye Health and Safety Month by Prevent Blindness America, who tell us that more Than 36,000 employees injured their eyes at work seriously enough to require time off. Manufacturing or production jobs had the highest eye injury rates, followed by installation, maintenance and repair, and construction. Most of these injuries were preventable with the proper eye protection.
Kansas and pre-existing conditions – last week, the Kansas House narrowly passed a bill that would reduce worker benefits and it is awaiting gubernatorial action. The major changes in the law revolve around pre-existing injuries. There is already a law that allows employers to adjust claims based on pre-existing injuries, but the new law would require less proof from employers. Opponents say this would penalize workers and would lead to dueling doctors and increased litigation. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is an opponent, and is on record saying the bill goes too far toward stripping employee rights, so we will see if she adds her signature or vetoes the hotly contested bill.
Work fatalities – Tina at Confined Space brings us the The Weekly Toll.