News Roundup: HWR, Ohio, Iraq, scaffolding, and Spanish on the job

November 2nd, 2006 by Julie Ferguson

New Health Wonk ReviewHealth Wonk Review – hot off the press, over at Jason Shafrin’s Healthcare Economist. His introduction states:

When economists analyze any industry, their first step is to look at the incentives facing the producers and the consumers. Next, an economist will examine the manner in which the government is regulating the industry and then the investigator will estimate whether or not the government activity is economically efficient. In this week’s Health Wonk Review we will focus on each of the 3 entities – producers, consumers and the government.

More from Ohio – Joe Paduda at Managed Care Matters keeps us updated on the latest doings in the Ohio scandal watch. This is a many-headed Hydra – there’s a new headline spawned every day. Today’s news question from The Columbus Dispatch: whether political influence played a role when premium rates for certain employers were lowered without proper justification.
Iraqi contractors – We’ve talked about independent contractors in Iraq a few times, and the issue of workers comp coverage – although its been hard to get information on this topic. Now, we learn that things seem to be getting too dangerous for the the independent contractors. Kroll, a Manhattan security company owned by Marsh & McLennan, has withdrawn its bodyguards from Iraq after it lost four workers. According to AP reports, Marsh & McLennan’s third quarter financial report stated, “results for the security group reflected the orderly exit from high-risk international assignments that had limited profitability and no longer fit Kroll’s business strategy.” Yesterday also included a report from the San Francisco Chronicle that Bechtel is pulling its contractors out of Iraq after seeing “52 of its people have been killed and much of its work sabotaged as Iraq dissolved into insurgency and sectarian violence.” The article paints a bleak picture.
Multilingual safety – Peter Rousmaniere at Working Immigrants discusses how Spanish language barriers increase hazards on construction sites, noting that mandating “English only” workplaces is not a solution since courts have only upheld this practice is business necessity can be demonstrated.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, total workplace fatal injuries in 2005 fell 1.2%. But the number of fatal injuries among Hispanic workers rose 2% last year to 917, Mr. Carter noted. And in 2004, while the overall number of workplace fatal injuries was up 2%, fatal workplace injuries among Hispanic workers rose 11%.

Scaffolding – We read about a coalition of NY businesses are suing to get the state’s scaffolding law overturned just after seeing Jordan Barab’s item about another scaffolding death yesterday in NY. If today tracks to the average, two workers will die from falls today.