Weblog roundup: news and views from around the blogosphere

August 1st, 2007 by Julie Ferguson

Jason Shafrin at Healthcare Economist hosts this week’s edition of Cavalcade of Risk – check it out!
Tammy Miser gives us The Weekly Toll. Find out who, where, when and why American workers are dying on the job. Often, work-related deaths are relatively quiet affairs in terms of media coverage, but one tragedy played out on the national stage last week when four newsmen lost their lives in a helicopter crash. It was distressing to hear their colleagues choking back their emotion as they covered the tragedy on air. None of us go to work expecting to see our colleagues die.
Joe Paduda at Managed Care Matters talks about the increasing severity problem dogging workers comp, with the culprit being medical costs running amuck. His post was sparked by the release of a recent Conning Research study, Workers’ Compensation: Getting a Handle on Severity, which warns that the increase in severity in the face of a steady reduction in frequency portends trouble. In this and a follow-on post about a recent report issued by Marsh on controlling workers comp, Joe takes both industry giants to task for not digging deeper to identify some of the fundamental medical cost drivers.
According to a recent study by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, most lifting programs are ineffective at preventing back pain or reducing disability claims. The study, reported in Occupational Hazards, finds that most devices such as back belts and lifting equipment and most safer lifting techniques don’t really work. Another expert quoted in the article agrees, noting that such efforts may be “well intentioned but probably pointless” and that exercise may be the only effective intervention. (We note that a NIOSH study on the effectiveness of patient lifting equipment in nursing homes found the equipment was effective at preventing injuries).
Ergonomics In the News has been following an interesting debate which was sparked by an article in PC Magazine, Ergonomics Is a Crock. Follow-on responses include Gearlog’s Why Ergonomics is Not a Crock and BellaOnline’s Ergonomics – Growing Pains or Just Misunderstood? and the discussion board at PC Magazine.
The bloggers at Hazards Recognized offer an on-the-job’s eye view of various safety issues. Barton Jones challenges the idea that work injuries are inevitable and promotes a “zero accidents” philosophy and goal. Jason Heilpern uses a real-life example to point out the difficulty that a safety manager can have when worker safety conflicts with work schedules. Tom Lash talks about the hazards of fishing and farming.
Thanks to rawblogXport, we learn that a new law in New Jersey targeting the new law in New Jersey targeting the misclassification of full-time construction workers as independent contractors. Labor Commissioner David J. Socolow said two out of every five construction contractors audited last year had misclassified their employees. One of the bill’s primary goals is to ensure that workers are covered by workers’ comp. The law includes fines of up to $75,000 and jail time for knowingly misclassifying employees. The state can also halt construction on a second violation, and the employer could lose eligibility to bid for public contracts.