News roundup: Miner Deaths, First Aid, Mergers & Acquisitions, and more

May 22nd, 2006 by Julie Ferguson

I’ve been in Spain over the last few weeks. Any blogging under my name was done in advance since, by design, I had little access to the Web while traveling. I spent much of the weekend online trying to catch up with news – here are some items I found noteworthy.
Miner deaths – In the light of 5 more tragic mining deaths and the fact that mining fatalities in the first four months of 2006 have exceeded the total fatalities in all of 2005, Jordan Barab at Confined Space advocates for competence, experience, and integrity over politics and cronyism in making appointments to the mining regulatory oversight authorities.
Workplace First-Aid – OSHA issued a Best-Practice Guidelines for Fundamentals of a Workplace First-Aid Program (PDF). Thanks to Workplace Prof Blog for the pointer.
M&A activity – Specialty Insurance Blog posts links to news stories indicating that insurer and agent merger and acquisition activity is trending up, and could perhaps even surpass the 2005 record-breaking activity.
Scandal watch – Joe Paduda at Managed Care Matters has been keeping track of the latest developments in the Ohio Bureau of Workers Comp Coingate scandal. Since that post, Noe has been seeking a change in venue and the BWC fired KPMG, the firm conducting audits and overseeing “alternative investments” since 1997. Some question the timing of the firing and wonder why the firing didn’t occur earlier since, according to the former chief investment officer (who was fired), KPMG never questioned the rare-coin investments.
New health research tool – David Williams at Health Business Blog points us to a new health care search engine called Healia. He spoke to the company’s founder and reports on the potential. It looks like a serious entrant, and worth keeping an eye on.
Immigration – Peter Rousmaniere continues to be an authoritative source for all issues related to the immigration issue at Working Immigrants. Among the many recent stories he’s posted, it is interesting to note that undocumented workers are contributing more than $6 billion a year to Social Security, suggesting that 4.5% of the contributors to Social Security today are coming from workers who are not eligible for these benefits.
Flexible schedules – Are flexible schedules that accommodate parenting a work practice only available to professionals and not the working class folks who keep the wheels turning? It would appear so, according to a column entitled The Family as a Firing Offense by Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post.

“According to studies cited in the report, flexible schedules are available for nearly two-thirds of workers who earn more than $71,000 annually — but for less than a third of those with incomes under $28,000. Over half of working-class employees are not permitted to take time off to care for sick children.”

Thanks to rawblogXport for the pointer.
Corporate culture – Diane Pfadenhauer at Strategic HR Lawyer reminds employers that the consequences for being unaware of inappropriate workplace behavior can be severe in her post Don’t Think “It Can’t Happen Here”.