News from around the blogosphere: Risk roundup, transitions & other noteworthy items

March 6th, 2013 by Julie Ferguson

Risk Roundup – David Williams hosts Cavalcade of Risk #178: Little bit of everything edition over at Health Business Blog. David’s a good blog citizen – he’ll be hosting next week’s Health Wonk Review, too!
Transitions – Isaac Asimov said “The only constant is change.” We are pleased to see that Marsh has named Mark Walls Workers’ Compensation Market Research Leader. Kudos for Marsh – they will have a great champion in Mark, who has been a social media pioneer with his leadership in founding the ever-popular Work Comp Analysis Group. Hopefully, he’ll have room in his new role to do much more in this vein. And in another notable industry transition, we see the passing of the torch at California Workers’ Compensation Institute as J. Michael Nolan retires and Alex Swedlow takes the reins. Our colleague Joe Paduda does a nice job explaining why Swedlow’s appointment is such a smart move on CWCI’s part.
Mental Anguish – There’s currently a bill before Connecticut legislators that would expand workers’ comp to include post-traumatic stress under specific circumstances – think first responders and Newtown. Unsurprisingly, the Insurance Association of Connecticut is opposing the bill on the basis that the language and circumstances are too vague and it would undo many of the reforms put in place in 1993. The issue of stress, trauma and PTSD is a tough one in workers’ comp – and although CT has been spurred by the recent tragedy, it’s an issue that surfaces frequently with first responders. See: S.C. Police Traumatized By Shocking Work Left Out Of Worker’s Compensation.
Repeat offenders & government contracts – Should a company that repeatedly and willfully flouts OSHA safety standards be eligible for federal contracts? At The Pump Handle, Celeste Monforton posts this question about Houston-area excavation firm SER Construction Partners in light of a recent citation for for willfully failing to comply with standards for safe excavation practices. She documents that this is one in a series of violations – in two instances, workers died following serious injuries related to OSHA violations. Fines are pretty negligible for a large company — and as we’ve noted before, more often than not, fines are bargained down. There should be some more serious consequence for serial offenders — withholding state and federal contracts seems appropriate to us.
Good read – Don’t miss Dave DePaolo’s post, A word that’s both a noun and an adjective, on the role that language plays in the aftermath of a worker’s injury. In any other setting, they would be “a patient” rather than a claimant. We often fall back on industry jargon without thinking through the effect on others. A few years back, the managed care industry was raked over the coals for calling patients “covered lives.” Language matters. DePaolo identifies the jargon as a way to make things less personal – and that is likely true. All too often, workers comp is viewed more as a financial event than a human event, which it really is. Someone got injured. At Lynch Ryan, we’ve always found that if you take care of the human, first and foremost, the financial outcome is generally better too.
Safety – Sandy Smith has a thoughtful piece about Safety After the Fact in EHS Today. It’s the sad story of one worker’s injuries that led to his death at a too-young age. Simple safety procedures might have prevented the injury. In contrast, Steve Yahn has written an interesting profile of a company that appears to be doing things right — Cirque du Soleil’s risk management and safety program — in Risk & Insurance. They take a rigorous, multi-disciplinary approach to prevention.
Other Noteworthy News