News roundup: fraud, kudos, back pain, WV, and more

February 12th, 2007 by Julie Ferguson

Fraud watch – Last week, Florida uncovered major workers comp fraud ring. “Three Floridians including two insurance brokers have been charged with fraud and conspiracy for allegedly providing hundreds of workers with falsified workers’ compensation insurance certificates to more than 300 Florida construction contractors.” The fraud included the creation of fake documents and records, including certificates of insurance, payroll records, paychecks, and IRS reporting documents. It is estimated that about $4 million was bilked from the system and hundreds of workers were left uncovered. Here’s another article on the matter from the Miami Herald.
Kudos – It’s with mixed feelings that we say thanks and a warm adieu to fellow blogger Jordan Barab who has closed shop at Confined Space after more than 2,800 posts, a real loss to the blogging community. But Jordan moves on to a position at the House Education and Labor Committee, so we wish him well and hope that his advocacy for worker safety will be a message that is heard by policymakers. Read his last post to learn more. Plus, he left a list of recommended list of health, safety, and labor blogs for further reading. One of the ones we will be sure to visit, and that we recommend to you, is the Weekly Toll by Tammy Miser. If you are a regular reader, you know that we are very concerned about workplace fatalities, so we think a blog devoted to news and updates about workplace deaths is an important addition to the blogosphere, athough nothing would make us happier than to have Tammy go out of business.
Scaffolding in NYC – In response to the high number of scaffolding deaths in Manhattan last year – 20 fatalities, up from 11 in 2005 and 5 in 2004 – New York will be implementing some major scaffolding safety initiatives. Among them, a Scaffold Safety Unit will be established in the Department of Buildings and ten new inspectors will be armed with stop work orders as they conduct daily sweeps. (Thanks to rawblogXport for the tip).
Back pain – Did you know that if you live in Bend, Oregon, you are six times as likely to have back surgery than if you live near Yankee Stadium? Joe Paduda uses low back pain to illustrate why the health-care system is so dysfunctional.
West Virginia – Peter Rousmaniere writes about West Virginia’s workers compensation transformation in his monthly column for Risk and Insurance. The state has completed its first year in its migration from a monopolistic state fund to a competitive environment. In 2005, the state established a mutual insurance company, the private BrickStreet Mutual Insurance Company; by 2008, private insurers will be allowed to write policies.
Handy news tools – Newsmuseum offers a snapshot of today’s front pages in 440 newspapers from around the globe. Another good resource for more than 12,000 online newspapers can be found at
Geek stuff – How long will your password hold up to an attack? These charts on password recovery speeds are quite the eye opener, and make a good case for why your passwords should be a combination of letters, numbers, and case. And speaking of security, Tom Mighel of Inter Alia explains why you should have three e-mail addresses.