News roundup: heat illness, stalking, ID theft, cost of drugs, and more…

August 8th, 2006 by Julie Ferguson

Heat illness prevention – The State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF) in California is offering a series of free Heat Illness Prevention seminars at various locations throughout the state. For those who don’t live and work in California, see the helpful page of tips and resources that SCIF compiled: Heat Illness in the Workplace: How You Can Control the Risk.
Stalking as an occupational risk – The July issue of Psychiatric Times features an article about stalking as an occupational hazard for mental health professionals. This is an often overlooked risk that carries a high frequency of associated violence. Organizations employing mental health workers should provide educational programs designed to raise employee awareness about the risk. This article offers strategies to reduce the chance of being harassed or stalked by a patient or ex-patient, as well as suggestions to address such behaviors should they occur.
Identity theft – the national trend towards missing or stolen personal data has now migrated to at least one workers comp insurer … personal info for 72 workers comp claimants was stolen from Sentry Insurance and then sold online. The thief, who was described as “a lead programmer/consultant from a nationally recognized computer contractor hired by the insurance firm,” has been apprehended.
BP explosion as a harbinger – Jordan Barab at Confined Space suggests that the fatal Texas explosion at a BP refinery presaged some of the problems we are seeing today that shut down the pipeline in Alaska. He suggests that the incident that resulted in the death of 15 workers ” … revealed to the world BP’s systemic negligence of basic precautions needed to protect workers, the community and the environment.” This makes sense. In our experience, a serious workers comp problem is often indicative of many other organizational problems.
Prescription drug costs – Joe Paduda at Managed Care Matters tells us that prescription drugs now account for one-eighth of the medical spend in workers comp. He notes that employers that institute comprehensive control strategies are holding increases to the 2 to 5% range, while less savvy employers are experiencing annual increases of 15% or higher.
Bid rigging settlement – Bob Sargent at Specialty Insurance Blog discusses the recent St. Paul Travelers’ settlement.