Risk Roundup and Work Comp News of Note

May 30th, 2014 by Julie Ferguson

Claire Wilkinson hosts the most recent risk roundup at Terms + Conditions blog: Cavalcade of Risk #209 – check it out. And if you aren’t familiar with Claire’s blog, she writes for the Insurance Information Institute and her blog has been one of the pillars in the insurance community since 2006
In other news …
FatalitiesCompany ‘willfully ignored’ safety standards in worker’s death – Megan Woolhouse of the Boston Globe and Michael Grabell of ProPublica cover the 2011 death of Daniel Collazo while working on a machine at the Tribe hummus plant in Taunton, MA. Although Tribe paid a $540,000 fine to OSHA for 18 serious violations – one of the biggest fines in New England in at least a decade – the article discusses the limitations of OSHA penalties, which are often less costly than taking preventative measures. Prior to Collazo’s death, Tribe had been cited previously for failure to enact the lockout-tagout procedure that would have prevented this death.
Tribe is not some small, local food plant struggling to keep up with safety regulations – it is part of a large multinational food conglomerate, the owner being Israeli-based Tivall 1993 Ltd. The article notes: “Tivall 1993 Ltd. is a subsidiary of OSEM Investments Ltd., one of the largest food companies in Israel. Last year, it made $109 million in profit on $1.2 billion in revenue. The majority owner of OSEM Investments is the Swiss food products conglomerate Nestle SA, which earned about $10 billion in profit last year on sales of more than $100 billion.”
Related: Worker Fatalities Show Importance of Safety Training
The pot chronicles =Reimbursement for medical marijuana authorized under New Mexico workers’ comp law = Kathleen Kapusta, J.D. at Wolters K;uwer discusses the case: “Agreeing with a workers’ compensation judge (WCJ) that New Mexico’s Workers’ Compensation Act and its attendant regulations authorize reimbursement for medical marijuana, a state appeals court affirmed the judge’s order requiring an employer to reimburse an injured employee for medical marijuana used under the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act. Rejecting the argument that the judge’s order was contrary to federal public policy, the court noted that the Department of Justice has recently offered “equivocal statements” about state laws allowing marijuana use for medical and even recreational purposes, and has even informed the governors of two states that voted to legalize possession of the drug and regulate its production and distribution that it would defer its right to challenge those laws.
Related: Joe Paduda at Managed Care Matters: Medical marijuana in work comp – take a deep breath, folks… and Michael Gavin at Evidence Based: Medical Marijuana: The Decision that Never Should Have Happened
What’s going on? Bob Wilson of workerscompensation.com had been following the strange termination of John Plotkin, let go from his job as CEO of SAIF after just a few months – and under vague circumstances. See his recent post: Governor Kitzhaber, Is Oregon the New North Dakota?
Mining – At Coal Tattoo, Ken Ward reports that MSHA pushes proximity detection rule back again. The rule would require coal-mine operators to install life-saving proximity detection systems in underground mines.
ACAI.R.S. Bars Employers From Dumping Workers Into Health Exchanges: Robert Pear reports in the New York Times: “Many employers had thought they could shift health costs to the government by sending their employees to a health insurance exchange with a tax-free contribution of cash to help pay premiums, but the Obama administration has squelched the idea in a new ruling. Such arrangements do not satisfy the health care law, the administration said, and employers may be subject to a tax penalty of $100 a day — or $36,500 a year — for each employee who goes into the individual marketplace. / The ruling this month, by the Internal Revenue Service, blocks any wholesale move by employers to dump employees into the exchanges.”
Fraud12 year sentence for $400,000, multi-state workers’ comp fraud: “According to evidence presented at the sentencing and guilty plea hearings, between January 2011 and February 2014, Perry developed a scheme in which he defrauded six different insurance companies of workers’ compensation benefits using false business and fictitious employees.”
News Briefs

Health & Safety
Annual summer campaign to prevent heat-related illnesses launched by US Labor Department
Be Smart with Sharps
NIOSH: Safe Handling of Hazardous Drugs
Laundry Risk Factors and Best Practices part 1, part 2, part 3