News roundup: FedEx, evidence-based medicine, 9/11 workers, references, and more

August 28th, 2006 by Julie Ferguson

FedEx loses contractor battle in Mass – Last year, my colleague Jon Coppelman blogged that FedEx should beware of Massachusetts when calling drivers “independent contractors.” Last week, the Massachusetts Department of Workforce Development ruled that a FedEx ground driver was not an independent contractor, and was therefore illegally denied unemployment benefits. Of course, this opens a can of worms about the denial of other statutory benefits, like workers comp. This is not the end of the lawsuits by any means. FedEx faces ongoing challenges in multiple states. The moral of the story: if you work with independent contractors, be sure they meet state and federal criteria to qualify as such.
Evidence-based medicine – Dr. Robert M. Centor at DB’s Medical Rants has a thoughtful piece on the strengths and limitations of evidence based medicine. An excerpt:

I applaud those who work to develop the field of evidence based medicine, but I caution them to not over sell the promise of EBM. EBM represents another tool in medicine. We should pay attention to the findings, and then apply them to our patients. But we must always apply these, and any other tools in the context of the patient. If we try to overemphasize the science without considering the art, then we are failing our patients.

Medicine – From Business Week, ten devices that are changing medicine.
Safety cheats – The Naval Safety Center’s Photo of the Week is a real pip this week. (via rawblogXport).
HiringGeorge’s Employment Blawg has some good tips and resources on how to conduct meaningful reference checks.
9/11 Rescue Workers – Troy Rosasco of Disabled Worker Law Blog has an excellent rundown on the 9/11 Rescue and First Responders Workers’ Compensation bill that was recently signed into law in New York. Better late than never – too bad some rescue workers had to face their last few days without adequate health coverage to make this happen.
Airport ground crews – Jordan Barab points to a recent article in the Washington Post discussing the hazards faced by airport ground crews. To make matters worse, these workers often fall in a regulatory grey zone – some tasks governed by OSHA while others fall under the FAA.
Pandemic prep – Tom Trocee of Actuarial News asks if we are prepared for a pandemic, and offers a wealth of links and resources to help.
Wacky insurance excuses – the British firm Norwich Union put out a list of the strange excuses related to insurance claims. Sample: ‘I couldn’t brake because a potato was lodged under the pedal.’ OK, while not necessarily occupationally related, we insurance geeks have to take our humor where we can find it. Thanks to for the pointer.