New Roundup: OT & work comp; Opioid death rates; Clash of work comp ad titans & more

June 10th, 2016 by Julie Ferguson

New Wage and OT Laws May Increase WC Premium
Roberto Ceniceros, Risk & Insurance
Between the adjusted pay structures resulting from the Department of Labor’s overtime rules and the looming state and federal efforts to increase minimum wage, employers – particularly small employers – may be looking at higher payrolls and increasing insurance expense and self-insured costs:

That would occur as minimum wage hikes directly increase the risk exposure. The greater exposure would follow from claims payers having to provide more indemnity benefits to match workers’ new earning capacity.
“It’s a genuine change in exposure because the injured worker now will have a higher benefit threshold in many cases when they are injured,” said Pamela F. Ferrandino, EVP and senior principal national casualty at Willis Towers Watson.
Sharon Brainard, executive managing director and national casualty practice leader at brokerage Beecher Carlson agreed.
“That obviously is going to have a direct impact,” Brainard said “It is going to increase the premiums and ultimate claims costs.”


What’s your state’s prescription opioid death rate?
Joe Paduda is skeptical of the frequent news reports alleging progress in the war on opioids and he has evidence to back it up. In this post, he offers a tool to check your state’s opioid death rate. For more specifically related to the impact on our industry, see his post: Opioids and Workers’ Comp – a quick update.

Florida Supreme Court Finds 104-Week Temporary Disability Benefits Cap Unconstitutional
Amy O’Connor, Claims Journal

The Florida Supreme Court has delivered another blow to Florida’s workers’ compensation system with a ruling today that the state’s statutory 104-week cap on temporary disability benefits is unconstitutional.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled 5-2 in favor of the of the plaintiffs in Bradley Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg (SC13-1930), saying cutting off disability benefits after 104 weeks to a worker who is totally disabled and incapable of working but who has not yet reached maximum medical improvement is unconstitutional.

Clash of the workers’ comp titans, and the adman behind it
James M. Von Bergen,
An interesting look at heated competition between PA creative agencies that vie for lucrative advertising from plaintiff attorney firms. The ads: billboards, TV spots and more aimed at injured workers.

We Don’t Know How Many Workers Are Injured At Slaughterhouses. Here’s Why
Grant Gerlock, NPR

A slaughterhouse is a safer place to work than it used to be, according to a new government report. But data gathered by federal regulators doesn’t likely capture all the risks faced by meat and poultry workers.
In an update to a 2005 report criticizing safety conditions for workers in the meat industry, the Government Accountability Office says injuries and illnesses are still common. From 2004 to 2013, 151 meat and poultry workers died from injuries sustained at work. The injury rate for meat workers is higher than the rest of the manufacturing industry.
But injuries in the meat industry are also likely to be underreported.

It’s time to establish accountability for job loss
In writing a recent report on Establishing Accountability to Reduce Job Loss After Injury or Illness commissioned by the US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, Jennifer Christian came to an inescapable conclusion:

Almost immediately, it became obvious to me that in order to make a solid contribution to the on-going public dialogue about health outcomes, the paper would have to explore the meaty issues of explicit expectations, accountability, metrics, credible data, rewards for best practices, and incentives for both participation and performance.

Soon after that, the absurdity of discussing expectations and accountability for the healthcare system alone became obvious —because organizations in other sectors of society play a role in the SAW/RTW process, each of which has enough discretionary power to support or thwart it.

Thus, over time, the purpose of the paper shifted to answering this question: What has to happen in order to engage the professionals at the front-line — the ones who work directly with affected individuals and make discretionary decisions about how much effort to make and for what purpose — so they start making a real effort to help people stay employed?

Light duty assignments create risks – Return-to-work efforts require monitoring
Stephanie Goldberg, Business Insurance

A recent court ruling should motivate employers to ensure return-to-work programs include frequent check-ins with injured employees performing transitional jobs.
Affirming a decision by the Louisiana Office of Workers’ Compensation, a three-judge panel of the state’s 5th Circuit Court of Appeal last month ruled that an injured St. James Parish Schools teacher’s modified position was inappropriate considering work restrictions provided by her treating physician and duties that were not accurately stated in the job description.

New WCRI Studies Compare Outcomes of Injured Workers Across 15 States

The research, “Comparing Outcomes for Injured Workers,” is a product of an ongoing, multiyear effort by WCRI to collect and examine data on the outcomes of medical care achieved by injured workers in a growing number of states. There are 15 individual studies for the following states: Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Quick Takes: More noteworthy news

Health & Safety