Blog Roundup: CA immigrants, “Safety Pays,” case reviews, and more

October 16th, 2006 by Julie Ferguson

Major California study of low wage immigrant workers – Peter Rousmaniere of Working Immigrants brings us the important study Barriers to Occupational Health Services for Low-Wage Workers in California. The study deals with the 3.7 million Californians are employed in occupations whose median wage is less than $10 an hour and the estimated 2 million in the underground economy. The majority of low-wage workers are nonwhite and immigrants. The workers studied include food service workers, health aides, hotel workers, assemblers, agricultural workers, retail workers, sewing machine operators, and others.

“This report looks at those businesses that do not abide by the law. It covers three interrelated topics: (1) low-wage workers and the issues they face in accessing the workers’ compensation system, (2) prevention efforts in a typical industry that employs low-wage workers; and, (3) the involvement of community health clinics in providing care to injured workers. Recommendations for introducing systemic changes through prevention efforts and increasing access to medical treatment and workers’ compensation benefits for low-wage workers are presented.”

Lip service – Jordan Barab of Confined Space takes OSHA (and many of us in the industry) to task for being masters of the obvious in calling for “Prevention” and “Safety Pays,” but falling down on the job when it comes to the enforcement tools that make a difference.

“And what if, in some cases, safety really doesn’t pay. What if the cost of implementing safer production processes and safeguards really does hurt the corporate profit margin? Does OSHA then say “Oh, sorry, never mind. Go on about your business?”

Finally, at what point do we realize (and do we force our politicians to realize) that we live in an economic system that tends to encourage individual employers to look more toward short-term profit than their employees’ health (or even their own long-term economic survival). And that the only way to control these natural and understandable systemic behaviors is to have strict mandatory safeguards and severe, meaningful penalties for violating them?”

Drug Free Work Week – HR Web Cafe tells us that this week is Drug Free Work Week and presents links to a variety of resources for building a drug-free workplace program.
Direct contracting – Joe Paduda at Managed Care Matters takes on the question of when and under what circumstances it makes sense for employers to contract directly with health care providers.
A new blog neighbor – We note that Health Affairs, a health policy publication and one of the news sources listed in our sidebar, now also publishes a blog. Unlike the Journal, the blog will not be peer reviewed, and will focus on briefs in the 500-to-1,000-word range on “topics that scan the health policy horizon.”
Notes on PA law – We haven’t linked to Judge Robert Vonada’s Pennsylvania Workers Comp Journal (PAWC) in some time. The good judge has some recent updates of court decisions – one, a case of a claimant who sought a reinstatement of benefits after the statute of limitations and one decision that highlights the importance of specificity in Supplemental Agreements.
Tail wagging the dog? – Michael Fitzgibbon of Thoughts from a Management Lawyer points us to Novia Scotia court of appeal case that dealt with whether a wrongful dismissal could be an “accident” for workers’ comp purposes.
Now’s your chance to comment on actuaries – Alberto Dominguez of What’s an Actuary points us to a draft study entitled Critical Review of the U.S. Actuarial Profession, which identifies risks and opportunities facing the profession and makes recommendations for addressing them. If you are an actuary, a regulator, or a direct or indirect user of actuarial services, you have until December to comment on the draft report.