Risk, industry pulse taking, heat, training & noteworthy news

June 27th, 2012 by Julie Ferguson

Risk news from the front line – Louise from Colorado Health Insurance Insider posts the 160th Cavalcade Of Risk – Colorado Wildfire Season Edition and as per her signature style, she does a great job hosting. Our thoughts go out to her and everyone in Colorado, who are living out a real-life risk scenario this week. Over 32,000 people were evacuated from the path of the Waldo Canyon Fire near Colorado Springs and the U.S. Air Force Academy on Tuesday night, which is just boggling. There are some dramatic photos on BuzzFeed. You can also follow on Twitter #waldocanyon.
Industry pulse – Robert Hartwig is the president and chief economist of the Insurance Information Institute. His industry observations are well worth tracking so we point you to his his midyear Workers’ Compensation update, where he tracks significant developments and issues both on the national and the state level. And because workers’ comp is only the stubby little tail on the very large dog that is the property-casualty industry, we also recommend his Insurane Industry 2012 – First Quarter Results, of which we offer this brief excerpt:

Through the first three months of 2012, private sector employers added an additional 678,000 workers (and a total of 847,000 through May). Overall payrolls, the exposure base for workers compensation insurance, now exceeds its pre-crisis peak. During 2011, the unemployment rate ranged from a high of 9.2 percent in June to a low of 8.5 percent at year’s end. By March 2012, the unemployment had dropped still further to 8.2 percent.

Despite extreme economic pessimism through much of the past two years, including the past several months of 2012, the economy appears to have successfully avoided a much feared and often discussed “double-dip” recession. Although real GDP growth came in at a disappointing 1.9 during the first quarter, economic growth is projected to reach 2.1 percent for full-year 2012 and 2.4 percent in 2013, according to Blue Chip Economic Indicators.

Extreme heat – FEMA / Ready.gov has issued before and during tip sheets on extreme heat in anticipation of the record-breaking temps that are expected to grip much of the country. The National Weather Service Warnings is a handy page to bookmark. The CDC offers Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness, or see Medline for heat-illness information in multiple languages.
OSHA Training & Temp Workers – In HR Hero, John Hall tackles the issue of OSHA training and temporary workers. Where does the responsibility lie, with the temp agency or the client employer? He notes that OSHA often finds that permanent employees are properly trained as required by a particular standard but their temporary counterparts aren’t, which then results in citations and significant penalties. He discusses some of the areas of responsibility that lie with the client employer vs the temp agency. It’s an issue worth your attention. Consider the $700,000+ fine for lack of training that OSHA just imposed related to the on-the-job death of a contract worker at Tribe Mediterranean Foods, a Taunton MA subsidiary of Nestle SA. “OSHA’s investigation found that Tribe Mediterranean Foods had not trained the deceased worker and six other workers who cleaned plant machinery on hazardous energy control or “lockout/tagout” procedures.” OSHA also issued several willful violations, defined as, “… one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.”
PTSD – Today is PTSD Awareness Day and the National Institute of Mental health is an excellent resource. Also see that National Center for PTSD, which offers resources for veterans, their family members, and others who have gone through trauma and suffer from PTSD.
Noteworthy news briefs