Archive for the ‘Misc.’ Category

Celebrate Memorial Day 2012 by hiring a Vet: You may qualify for a tax credit

Friday, May 25th, 2012

In all the hype about barbecues and beaches, it’s easy to forget the original history of Memorial Day was as a day of remembrance for those who died in our nation’s service. Originally called “Decoration Day,” the tradition began in 1868, a few years after the close of the Civil War. In early commemorations, flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery, but after WWI, the day of remembrance was changed to honor those who died fighting in any war. Over time, many started using the day as a day of remembrance for not just vets, but for commemorating deceased family and friends, as well.
If you’d like to take a few moments to honor the men and women who died in military service, you can visit the Veteran’s Affairs Memorial Day page to learn about related events and traditions.
While we honor the dead, let’s not forget about the living vets who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to face a difficult job market, among other re-acclimation challenges they face when returning home. The unemployment rate for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is about 12%, or 4% higher than the overall unemployment rate.
Potential Tax Credit if You Hire a Vet in 2012
Do you know about the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) for hiring vets? It’s a provision in the VOW to Hire Heroes Act 2011. The Act allows employers to claim the WOTC for veterans certified as qualified veterans who begin work before January 1, 2013. Credits are substantial: as high as $9,600 per qualified veteran for for-profit employers or up to $6,240 for qualified tax-exempt organizations. There are a number of factors that determine the credit amount, including the length of the veteran’s unemployment before hire, the number of hours the veteran works, and the veteran’s first-year wages. Learn more about potential tax credits for hiring veterans from the IRS.
Additional Resources
Department of Labor Hiring Veterans – Compliance Programs
CareerOneStop offers employer resources for hiring veterans, including a Military to Civilian Occupation Translator helps service members match military skills and experience to civilian occupations.
US Chamber of Commerce: Hiring Our Heroes, including a map of upcoming hiring fairs.

Out with the old & in with the new

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

To usher in the new year, we’re posting recaps of 2011 and prognostications for 2012 that we’ve gathered from some of our regular sources around the web.
PropertyCasualty360
Top 10 Stories of 2011
Catastrophes 2011: The Top 10 — Revisited
2011’s Headlines Set 2012’s Course
Risk & Insurance
OSHA announces top workplace violations for FY 2011
POINT: 2012: A Bang-Up Year for Risk Managers
COUNTERPOINT: 2012: Another Challenging Year for Risk Managers
Business Insurance (registration may be required)
The Year in (Insurance) Cartoons
Business Insurance’s top stories of 2011
Risk Management Magazine
Year in Risk
Joe Paduda
Predictions for 2011 – how’d I do?
Jon Gelman
(Gelman’s) Top 10 Workers’ Compensation Blog Posts for 2011
LexisNexis
Larson’s Spotlight: Top 10 Cases for 2011 That You Should Know About
The Year in Review: Top 10 Workers’ Comp Fraud News Stories
Workers Comp Zone
Top 10 Developments in California Workers’ Comp in 2011
OSHA Law Update
Top 5 OSHA Developments to Look Out For In 2012
SafetyNewsAlert.com
Top 10 safety stories of 2011 – reader’s choice
Tech Decisions
Top Tech Feature Articles of 2011
HR Daily Advisor
Year in Review
Human Resource Executive
A Look Back: At Employment-Law Issues
A Look Back: At the Workplace

Greatest hits – 20 popular posts from 2011 and 20 all-time faves

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

All of us at Lynch Ryan hope you are enjoying the holiday season. As our year end wrap-up, we are revisiting some of our popular posts, as indicated by post clicks. Thanks for your interest and support in 2011, and we’ll see you around the bend!
Top 20 posts in 2011
Have you protected your employees from this seasonal peril?
Medical Marijuana: Walmart Wins! (Walmart Loses)
Cool work safety tool from WorkSafeBC – “What’s wrong with this photo?”
John T. Dibble’s Sympathetic Ear
Dangerous jobs: window washing at extreme heights
Health Wonk Review: the heatwave edition
The wacky world of workers comp
Managing Chronic Pain, Revisited
Health Wonk Review: Stormy Weather
Social media and workers comp
Independent Contractors in Pennsylvania
Experience Modification Alert: NCCI Changing the Rules
Are nurses and health care workers facing more on-the-job violence?
Low clearance: truckers, this one is for you
The “here’s a guy doing stupid things” safety photo genre
The Not-So-Hidden Cost of Obesity
Record number of grain bin fatalities in 2010; OSHA cites employers

NCCI suggests a “precarious outlook prevails” for the workers comp market

Medical Marijuana in the Workplace: Dude, Lock Me Out!

Managing Chronic Pain

All time greatest hits
We’ve been blogging for more than 8 years, but our stat counter has only been tracking for about half that time. In that time, we have recorded 1,356,748 visits. Below, we’ve posted the all-time favorites over the 4+ years we’ve been tracking, along with the number of visits to each post. There are no duplicates with the above list. Since about 85% of all visits come from search engines, the list gives you a pretty good window into what types of things people are searching on for worker’s comp topics.
26,766 – You’re fired! Should you terminate an employee who is on workers compensation?
21,138 – Independent Contractor or Employee?
18,180 – Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Who Should Pay?
11,100 – The history of workers compensation
7,607 – Can You Terminate an Employee on Workers Comp?
6,607 – Exception to the “going and coming” rule: operating premises
6,309 – The AIG Saga: Joe Cassano’s Performance-Based Compensation
5,349 – Cavalcade of Risk #113 and a scary work scenario
5,320 – Pre-existing conditions and second injuries
5,258 – Heart attacks on the job: are they covered by workers compensation?
4,922 – Workers comp costs and benefits – Current state rankings
4,726 – Controversial Canadian workplace safety ads unveiled
4,550 – Workers’ compensation reform in a New York minute
3,825 – You think your job is tough?
3,693 – Measuring Success 2
3,671 – Poppy Seeds and Drug Testing: False Positives?
3,596 – Underwriting for Dummies?
3,540 = The Comp Success Story in Massachusetts: Who Pays?
3,484 – The Cost of Volunteers
2,870 – Swine Flu Meets Workers Comp

Firefighter down: Another heartbreaking fatality in Worcester

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Ironically, when we first learned about potential trouble with a three-decker fire in Worcester last week, we were in the process of gathering links about a recent NFPA report showing that firefighter injuries are down eight percent from 2009; in addition, we had come upon another Arizona study that showed that more firefighters are injured while engaged in training and exercise than in fighting fires. We were tracking NFPA stats on injuries by type of duty and by nature of injury.
But then we heard about the new tragedy in Worcester where 17-year veteran firefighter John Davies lost his life in a three alarm fire. He and his partner were searching the tenement’s third floor for possible trapped people when a wall collapsed on Davies. His partner Brian Carroll fell through to the basement, and was subsequently rescued, surviving his injuries.
Subsequent news reports of the fire say that no body has been found in the rubble. The resident that was reported missing is still missing, and authorities are searching for that person as a witness. Unsurprisingly, the home that burnt had 30 code violations and the owner is facing charges.
A firefighter death is a difficult and tragic event whenever and where ever they occur. About 100 firefighters die in the line of duty each year. FEMA notes that “Although the number of firefighter fatalities has steadily decreased over the past 20 years, the incidence of firefighter fatalities per 100,000 incidents has actually risen. Despite a downward dip in the early 1990’s, the level of firefighter fatalities is back up to the same levels experienced in the 1980’s.” In 2011 to date, 83 firefighters have died in the line of duty.
The death of firefighter Davies is a particularly difficult loss. He was to be married on New Year’s Eve. He was the father of three sons, one of whom is returning from an Afghanistan deployment to attend his Dad’s funeral. But occurring as it did in December, a few short days after the 12-year anniversary of the Worcester Cold Storage building fire that killed six firefighters, this is a particularly painful loss for the Worcester firefighting community. This grievous loss is still fresh in the minds of many locals. Both Davies and his partner were among the firefighters that responded to that fire. Both Davies and his partner were stationed at Franklin Street Station, a new station and memorial which was built at the site of the former Cold Storage warehouse.
Funeral ceremonies for John Davies are scheduled for this Thursday. It is being reported that as many as 12,000 firefighters from across the country are expected.
Firefighting may indeed be getting safer overall, but this week, statistics pale in the face of gritty reality. As long as people are trapped in burning buildings, firefighters like John Davies will be losing their lives. And as insignificant a response as it is, we thank them.

Have you protected your employees from this seasonal peril?

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

We’re looking for some OSHA safety guidelines, but to no avail. There’s a peril that is plaguing postal workers, police, EMTs and news producers alike, yet it’s a safety issue that remains largely unaddressed. We’re talking turkey here. Wild, urban turkeys are fast, aggressive and persistent. In honor of Thanksgiving, we bring you these videos of brave workers confronting this natural peril.





As yet, we aren’t aware of any turkey-related claims. Wait, that is not entirely true – there was the rather unusual situation where a claims investigator was mistaken as a turkey and shot, an unfortuante situation my colleague discussed a few years ago. But a claim resulting from an actual turkey attack? We’ve yet to hear of one.
Should you be confronted by a wild turkey – and we assure you, it can be an intimidating experience to be attacked by a 30-pound enraged male turkey that sees you as threat or a subordinate in the pecking order – the best advice we have is to try not to give ground. They are trying to establish dominance. Hold your ground, carry a big stick to shoo them, or better yet, carry an umbrella, which you can open and close to create your own display of dominance.
Or barring that, just stay in your vehicle, call state wildlife authorities, and wait until help arrives or the turkeys meander away.
Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers!

Horn tooting and confetti throwing

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Indulge us for a minute as we toot our own horn. We’re pleased and honored to once again be named to the LexisNexis Top 25 Blogs for Workers’ Compensation and Workplace Issues.

Now in its ninth year, the Workers’ Comp Insider is among a handful of blogs that are consistently thorough, edgy, provocative, and accurately informative. The blog covers comp issues, risk management, business insurance, and workplace health and safety across the nation. The blog’s quality can easily be seen in two recent offerings: “Triaging Trouble: Predictive Modeling in Claims Management (October 4, 2011), which discusses the use of systematic modeling by risk management consultants, TPAs and insurers to identify injured workers who are most at-risk of delayed recovery or malingering, and “Wide disparity in costs for common medical procedures” (July 6, 2011), which points out that because of the lack of transparency in the level of health care costs, the cost of an abdominal CT scan might be $1200 at one hospital and yet only $300 in a clinic or doctor’s office in a nearby town.

A good part of this honor is in the company that we keep. We are pleased to find so many of our valued colleagues named, too – Joe Paduda, Roberto Ceniceros, Bob Wilson, and Peter Rousmaniere. Plus, we were happy to see The Weekly Toll, a blog that reminds us why most of us are in this business in the first place – to keep the human toll from climbing.
We’re also happy to find many blogs that are new to us on the list – we’ll be exploring them and encourage you to do so, too! Our congratulations to all our fellow work comp bloggers!
We thank the folks at LexisNexis for the honor – particularly Ted Zwayer and Robin Kobayashi, who deserve their own award for the valuable contributions that they make to furthering workers comp blogging and the online workers comp community. It’s gratifying to see so many excellent workers comp blogs thriving today – it was a far different environment back in 2003. The shared resources, news and opinions help to make us all better at what we do.
Support your work comp bloggers!

When your boss is a tiger

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

This may not be the most useful post you will read all week, but it is likely to be among the most amusing. If you haven’t yet stumbled on the infamous “Tiger Mike” memos, you are in for a treat.

Edward ‘Tiger Mike’ Davis was the erstwhile CEO of the now defunct Houston-based Tiger Oil Company. You might expect an oil company to be a bit rough and tumble, but Tiger Mike took things to a new level. He didn’t particularly like talking to his employees, he preferred typing memos. (“Do not speak to me when you see me. If I want to speak to you, I will do so. I want to save my throat. I don’t want to ruin it by saying hello to all of you sons-of-b*tches.”) And fortunately, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, his memos have been preserved for the ages. We link to them in all their glory: The Tiger Oil Memos. Please be advised, the memos do include a few cuss words.

Now after marveling at his posts, you may be curious to learn more about the man and the company. E&P editor Rhonda Duey shared some readers reminiscing about Tiger Mike. And for those who want “the rest of the story,” see this fascinating post on Grifters, Oil Men, Tabloids, The Scrappy Ingenue, The Titans and the Hardass: An American Story – a few links in the post are broken but despite that, it tells a fascinating story, with Tiger Mike as an integral character.

OK, what does all this have to do with workers compensation? We would refer you to #3 and #8 in attorney Alan Pierce’s excellent Top Ten List as to Why Injured Workers Retain Attorneys. Actually, all ten points are worth thinking about. As a successful Massachusetts plaintiff attorney, Pierce should know. We would love to hear his cache of “bad boss” stories.

We have a category classification for posts on “best practices.” We can see that there is a need for a “worst practices” category, too.

Friday sing-along: Songs for the Working Man & Woman

Friday, September 9th, 2011

For Labor Day Weekend, Peter Rotheberg took “a stab at the impossible task of naming the best songs ever written about working people.” He compiled a noteworthy list of the Top Ten Labor Day Songs – a great list with more than a passing nod to some of the labor classics. (Thanks to Jeffrey Hirsch
at the Workplace Prof Blog for pointing us to the enjoyable post).
Here’s a few more workings songs we like:

Compensable Sex, Down Under?

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

When employees travel overnight for their employers, workers comp may expand into 24 hour coverage. Work put you on the road; comp covers you while you are working.
An unnamed (for soon to be evident reasons) woman in Australia has filed a workers comp claim for injuries incurred during sexual activity while on a business trip. She was having sex with a man (not that that matters) when a glass light fitting came away from the wall above the bed. The light struck her in the face, leaving her with injuries to her nose, mouth and a tooth, as well as “a consequent psychiatric injury”. The relative positions of the man, the woman and the light are not detailed in either of two newspaper articles, one in the Sydney Morning Herald and the other in the Herald Sun.
The woman’s lawyers argue that being injured while having sex “during an interval or interlude within an overall period or episode of work” was no different to being hurt while carrying out other recreational activities – some recreational activities evidently being “higher risk” than others.
Course and Scope
But Australia’s ComCare, which says the woman was having sex with “an acquaintance, who had no connection with her work”, will argue “neither legal authority nor common sense” could lead to a finding that the injury was sustained during the course of her employment. This implies, of course, that had the man been a work acquaintance, the injury might have been compensable. Hmmm. The devil, as always, is in the (salacious) details.
From the American litigation perspective, it might seem more logical to sue the hotel or the light manufacturer. But as Australia’s comp law – unlike the American statutes – does allow compensation for pain and suffering, a liability claim might not add anything to the potential payout.
In the final analysis, this incident stands as a stark example of the dangers of mixing business and pleasure. In her expansive notion of the “course and scope of employment,” the anonymous claimant has literally brought the workers comp system into the (hotel) bedroom, where it rarely resides. We await with great interest the final resolution of this intriguing case from down under.

Box office bonanza: Your summer guide to risk management & the movies

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

NIOSH Science Blog’s recent blog post is taking on Hollywood – specifically, the summer’s blockbuster Horrible Bosses, an irreverent and risque dark comedy in which abused and aggrieved employees decide to murder their psycho bosses. We’d make the case that real life bosses can compete with the ones that Hollywood dreams up any day.
Complaining about bosses is an age-old tradition, but few take the concept of boss bashing literally. According to NIOSH, “The situations portrayed in the movie are not typical–worker-on-worker (or boss) violence accounts for only about 8% of workplace homicides. More than half of all workplace homicides occur in retail or service settings such as conveniences stores, taxicab services, and gas stations with the majority of these homicides occurring during a robbery.” The post author uses Horrible Bosses as a springboard to introduce and discuss the very real issue of workplace violence. It includes an array of links to related posts about professions that are particularly vulnerable to violent events, such as school personnel, taxi drivers, pharmacists, nurses.
This isn’t the first time that The NIOSH Science Blog has turned to Hollywood to illustrate health and safety issues. They’ve previously featured an entertaining pair of posts: Occupational Safety & Health in the Movies and OSH at the movies: the sequel. In the latter, the post author lists the Top 11 Films Depicting Occupational Safety & Health Issues, the Top 7 Films with Occupation Safety & Health Issues During Production, and the Top 10 Films in [a risk-related] Special Category.
Other online forums have tackled the issue of risk related issues in Hollywood from various angles:

  • RiskVue features the
    Top Movies No Risk Manager/Insurance Professional Should Miss
    , saying that, “The simple fact is risk managers and insurance professionals lack solid role models in the entertainment industry. Nevertheless, plenty of films have delved deep into the principles of risk and insurance management, offering lessons, guidance and a form of entertainment that only those in the industry can truly appreciate.”
  • A blog post at Consumer Insurance Blog deals with risks, hazards and liability issues involved in filmaking and production: Risk, insurance, & the movies. The post notes some of the risk issues involved in film making, which can include such disparate hazards as wild and trained animals, technology glitches, actors who have to leave the set mid-production to go to rehab, and weather related events that may delay production schedules or pose danger to the cast, the crew and the props.
  • Risk Management Magazine featured an article On Making Movies, highlighting insurane issues involved in the filmmaking industry. “The role of entertainment insurance is to determine the relevant risks of a project and create the necessary cushions and options to deal with whatever may come. Sometimes the crisis is large, such as that faced by A Simple Plan; other times it is one that requires minor alterations. An innovative and creative energy among all interested parties, from the director to the insurer, is vital to bringing audiences the kinds of movies so perfect in design, one cannot help but believe every minute.”

Here at WCI, our focus has been on TV. We are still awaiting the debut of that wacky TV sitcom Workers’ Comp. We haven’t heard about it since the report of the April filming – presumably the show will air in the fall. We are a tad skeptical and we aren’t the only ones: