News Roundup: Immigration, illnesses, frequency, and more

April 12th, 2006 by Julie Ferguson

Immigration – A column by Dana Parsons in the L.A. Times (free registration required) discusses illegal workers and the cost of doing business in California. He interviews a roofing contractor on reasons why he hires people off the books and – no surprise – the cost of workers comp is one of the primary reasons cited. Parsons follows up with:

“I ran the owner’s comments past labor union executive Richard Slawson. In so many words, he says the laments are a crock.

Rather than being victimized by the system, Slawson says, the owner is a felon for violating workers’ comp laws and represents one of the major contributors to the illegal immigration problem — namely, employers who depress wages by hiring illegal workers and not contributing fairly to the system.

The workers’ comp complaints are nothing more than rationalizations for seeking unfair competitive advantages, says Slawson, executive secretary of the Los Angeles and Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council.”

Immigration is, of course, a hot topic on many of the work-related blogs these days. Workplace Prof Blog discusses Immigration rallies and absenteeism and Jottings By an Employer’s Lawyer has a post on A Summary of the Problem for Business. We recommend Peter Rousmaniere’s blog Working Immigrants for facts, research, and news on the topic.
Disease MongeringDB’s Medical Rants points to an article that discusses disease mongering – whether the pharmaceutical companies are “inventing diseases” by exacerbating demand when there is none through direct to consumer advertising. I don’t know about you, but I’ve felt a lot less healthy since all these ads have been on TV.
Flu and compensability – Joe Paduda poses the question as to whether the flu would be compensable if it were contracted at work – specifically during business travel. He’s had a few replies, one from my colleague Jon Coppelman. Interesting discussion, weigh in with your thoughts.
Frequency underestimated by BLS? – Jordan Barab points us to a study led by Michigan State University, East Lansing Professor Kenneth D. Rosenman and team in an article in the April Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine finding that workplace injuries and illnesses may be significantly undercounted – by as much as two-thirds:

“Based on the results of our analysis we estimate that the number of work-related injuries and illnesses in Michigan is three times greater than the official estimate derived from the BLS annual survey,” Dr. Rosenman and colleagues report. Whereas BLS statistics suggest that work-related injuries affect 1 in 15 Michigan workers per year, the new results suggest that the true rate is closer to 1 in 5.”

24/7 Work Weeks – Michael Fitzgibbon at Thoughts from a Management Lawyer discusses the future of work and the idea that the 24/7 work week is becoming more commonplace, at least in certain types of jobs. That raises interesting questions in my mind about compensability issues and the course and scope of employment.
Worker Memorial Day – Just a reminder that this is coming up on April 28. RawblogXport offers some free posters for the occasion. The AFL-CIO site also has a page dedicated to resources.
Blogs – One of my new blog rediscoveries through Health Wonk Review is Over My Med Body!, a blog by Graham Walker, a Stanford medical student. It’s not related to occupational medicine, but he does treat a variety of health policy and general health care issues. Plus, it’s just an interesting read. Apparently U.S.News & World report thinks so too since his blog waas highlighted in a recent issue. Walker has also has developed a handy free service for consumers called Medslist. he suggests, “Sit down with your pill bottles for 5 minutes, enter in all your medications, and presto-change-o, you can download a PDF of it as well! (Small enough to cut out and carry in your wallet in case of emergencies or doctors’ visits.)”