Archive for the ‘Social media’ Category

Workers Comp Insider: 5 years and counting!

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Yay us! This month is our 5th year blogging anniversary so we were pleased to be named to Lexus-Nexus Top 25 Blogs for Workers Compensation — and to see a few of our esteemed colleagues on the list, too. We have to laugh because when we started, we weren’t sure we would find enough to post about to make it to year 2, let alone year 5. And back then, the business blogging landscape was pretty thin indeed, so we’d never have foreseen such a robust community emerging for such a niche topic.
You are reading post #934. In the 1680 days we’ve been keeping track, we’ve had 900,000 visits from 600,000 unique visitors. We generally have about 18 to 20 thousand visitors a month, and as would be expected, about 85% of our visitors come from the U.S., but Canada, the UK, and Australia also make a good showing. We’ve had visitors from about 200 countries, including some that challenged our geographic awareness: Kiribati? Burkina Faso? (sidetrack: how many countries can you name in 5 minutes?)
In honor of the event, we thought we’d dish up our top 15 all-time greatest hits. These posts reflect the most searched for topics, as well as the ones that you, our readers, have clicked on the most:

Noteworthy blogs and tools

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Time for a blogroll and sidebar update! We’re always looking for new resources to keep things fresh – we’ve been told we have the best compilation of workers’ comp link resources on the web – we hope it’s useful to you.
Noteworthy blogs
The Safety Blog – this blog is sponsored by Safety Services Company. Since December, they’ve been offering news and tips for safety professionals. There’s really substantive information posted – a good addition to the health & safety blogosphere.
Health Blog – WSJ – reporter Jacob Goldstein spearheads this Wall Street Journal blog that focuses on health and the business of health. Scott Hensley an erstwhile WSJ reporter on the drug industry is also a frequent contributor.
GoozNews – We’ve linked to Merrill Goozner’s site through Health Wonk Review before, but hadn’t added him to the sidebar. “Gooz” is an author and former journalist for some of the nation’s premier news publications – in the area of health policy, he always has something interesting to say.
GotSafety Blog – This appears to be more of a safety news aggregator than a blog, culling excerpts and links from various places around the Web.
Does this Workers Compensation settlement require a Medicare approval or set-aside? (PDF) – this handy flow chart offers guidelines on when and where Medicare Set-Aside are required.
An Unhealthy America – “the economic burden of chronic disease” – Over 162 million cases of seven common chronic diseases — cancers, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, mental disorders, and pulmonary conditions — were reported in the U.S. in 2003. A clickable map shows how states compare based on the prevalence of these diseases.

Are bloggers the new occupational risk group?

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

If you have bloggers on the payroll, both you and they may be at risk for work injuries – or even death! At least that’s the word according to a recent article by Matt Richtel in the New York Times, In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop. Richtel describes a growing work force of sedentary workers who toil around the clock under great competitive stress to cover the latest news, “a digital-era sweatshop.” While many bloggers are either non-paid or self employed, many are employees or contractors. Some work on a piece-work basis paid by the post and others depend on pay-per-click advertising.
The article cites the examples of two prominent bloggers who recently died of heart attacks, noting that while the deaths cannot be definitively linked to blogging, certain aspects of the blogger lifestyle can lead to weight gain, inactivity, poor nutrition, and sleep disorders. Plus, many suffer stress and blogger burnout.
Of course, the story has been buzzing through the blogosphere to mixed reactions. There is no shortage of bloggers having fun with the story (Five Brooklyn Bloggers Die Over the Weekend, Latest Victims of New, High-Tech Disease; The NYT Covers Blogging) – bloggers can be a very snarky and cynical group. But while many fault the story for being a bit on the dramatic side, it raises some good points that employers should consider: sedentary workers have unique health risks. Of course, this isn’t limited to bloggers – it also includes IT workers, telemarketers, assemblers, managers, typists, receptionists, office workers – just to name but a few. Sedentary work environments can contribute to obesity, diabetes, circulatory problems, deep-vein thrombosis, musculoskeletal disorders, and other health problems.
While we haven’t seen any workers comp claims for blogging yet, employers need to keep an eye out for sedentary workers, particularly any home-based teleworkers, to ensure that health risks are mitigated and that workers comply with health and safety standards. Set an expectation that work be punctuated with periodic breaks for activity or exercises and ensure that workstations have good ergonomic design. Blogger LifeDev shares some other pointers for keeping web workers healthy.
And as for us hard working bloggers at Workers Comp Insider, we offer assurances that we are not pulling all nighters to update the blog or struggling to feed our families on a click-by-click basis. But after this article, I am wondering if our readers’ insatiable demand for the latest workers comp news might have something to do with my recent 10 pound weight gain.

Calvalcade of Risk is Up

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Ernesto the Insurance Geek is hosting this week’s Cavalcade of Risk at He has sifted through a whopping 18 submissions, thereby providing easy access to anyone with an interest in risk – and that is just about all of us. Check it out.

Weblog roundup: recession and WC; cost of physicians; undocumented workers; and heath & safety

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Recessions effect on WC – Joe Paduda offers his analysis of what the recession will mean for workers comp. Citing a 2002 Minnesota study, he notes that costs rise during recessions for two reasons: claims rates and disability duration both increase. He notes that other factors may well have a larger impact on costs than the recession. Some of these include rising drug costs, a de-emphasis on loss prevention, the soft market, and declining investment returns.
The cost of physician services Maggie Mahar of Health Beat has been examining the issue of health care spending, specifically how much we spend on physicians services (and part 2). Of the $2.1 trillion that we spent on health care last year, 22 percent year went directly to doctors. Maggie notes that is up from 19.4 percent in 1960. She raises the question as to whether the expenditures for physician’s services need to be redistributed. She makes the case that the perverse financial incentives in our fee-for-service system mean that we are paying physicians for the quantity of work that they do rather than the quality, leading to overtreatment. She uses data from physicians in other countries as a point of comparison:

Stowe, a research fellow at Americans for Generational Equity, points out that primary care doctors and other “generalists in the United States earn on average $173,000 a year or 4.2 times gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. In other countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), generalists earn roughly half as much – or $94,000 on average –based on purchase power parity dollars.” Thus, Stowe puts the salaries in the context of what these earnings can buy in each country.

Meanwhile, he continues, “specialists in the United States earn an average of $274,000 a year or 6.5 times GDP per capita. In other OECD countries, specialists earn on average less than half that at $129,000 or 4 times GDP per capita.” So, Stowe concludes, “even adjusted for higher wealth and earnings in the United States, the gap between what physicians earn here and elsewhere in the developed world is large, as is the gap between physician earnings and the average American’s earnings.” (Stowe recognizes that American doctors pay more for malpractice insurance than their peers abroad, but in his comparisons, this is already factored into the numbers.)

These small snippets and summaries of her thoughtful posts don’t do them justice – there’s much food for thought. It’s well worth setting aside the time to read them both.
Undocumented workers and workers comp – We’ve blogged about Edgar Velázquez and Billy G’s Tree Care, an undocumented worker seeking workers compensation from a rather unscrupulous Rhode Island employer. Now, Peter Rousmaniere of Working Immigrants brings us the news of a $30,000 settlement awarded to Velázquez in a groundbreaking case against his former employee. One highly unusual aspect of this case was the matter of an injured undocumented worker having been allowed to return to the U.S. to face an employer in court. In commenting on the ruling, Chief Workers’ Compensation Judge George E. Healey Jr. said the settlement should put employers on notice.

“I think that it’s important that employers realize they cannot employ undocumented workers without consequence,” Healey said.

“My concern in this whole process is that unscrupulous employers will assume that they don’t have to provide a safe workplace and don’t have to be answerable for injuries which occur in the workplace,” he said. “And the resolution of a case like this demonstrates otherwise.”

This is the second recent case of state courts upholding undocumented worker rights to compensation for work injuries. last week, Peter reported on South Carolina’s Supreme Court unanimous ruling in favor of benefit eligibility for an illegal immigrant.
Health and safetyThe Pump Handle is fast becoming one of our important weekly reads for occupational health and safety issues. In a recent post, Celeste Monforton follows up on with more information on December’s massive explosion at the T2 Laboratories plant in Jacksonville, Florida. The Chemical Safety Board recently issued a report that in addition to the 4 fatalities, 33 people were injured, more than double the number originally reported. And in another post, occupational health news roundup, Liz Borkowski links to a variety of news reports about problems that injured veterans face in getting appropriate services and care for injuries. She also links to a story about injured soldiers being redeployed to Iraq on “light duty. ”

Risky Business

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

Cavalcade of Risk is up, hosted by MyWealthBuilder. It’s a delectable potpourri ranging from personal risk (auto and health insurance choices, avoiding Alzheimers through diet) to global issues (a history of the subprime mortgage mess). The wide ranging subject matter reminds us that risk management is something we all do, every day, even if we limit our thinking to professional implications. This week’s Cavalcade is fun and informative – well worth checking out.

Happy Birthday To Us!!!

Monday, September 17th, 2007

birthdaycake Today marks the fourth anniversary of Workers’ Comp Insider. Since the Insider was the first insurance blog, and by extension the first workers’ comp blog, in the nation, I thought that perhaps a moment of reflection might be in order. Jon gave his thoughts on “why we blog” a few days ago, but I wanted to share my thoughts on the matter.
In July, 2003, Julie Ferguson, who knows more about blogs than any three people I know, came into my office and said, “Tom, I think Lynch Ryan should create a weblog.”
Up until that time, it seemed to me that two kinds of people had blogs, rabidly radical political reporters who posted five or six times a day whenever anyone in Washington sneezed, and teenagers who wanted the world to know what they ate for breakfast. So, when Julie proposed that we join the crowd all I could say was, “Why on earth would we want to do that?” Thus began my education. Over the next few days Julie persuaded me that this was a natural for Lynch Ryan, because we had always been innovators and path-finding pioneers. Blazing the trail of insurance blogging would continue that tradition. Plus, fostering open communication between employer, employee, physician and insurer has always been one of our core missions. A blog would be the perfect medium to take that communication to an even higher level.
We went to see Chris Miller, our Internet technology guru, from Artefact Design in Worcester, MA. We said, “Chris, how’d you like to build a blog?” I think, initially, he wanted to run away, because Chris is a corporate technology specialist, and at the time there were no corporate blogs – anywhere. But, after thinking about it for a bit, he said, “Sure, why not.”
Julie discovered that inexpensive software was available to build the blog, so we anted up the licensing fee and went to work. It was Julie, too, who came up with the name, “Workers Comp Insider.” I thought it was a bit long, but, once again, she convinced me, and on 17 September 2003, the Insider was born.
That first entry arrived with a whimper, not a bang. The topic was October Events, and it was about eight lines long. Not particularly auspicious for the first insurance blog entry in America, but, then again, neither was “Watson, come here. I need you,” another communications first.
We didn’t start to count readers until February 2004. That month, we had about 75 readers per entry, and most of those were family and friends. It’s since grown to closer to 20,000 and seems to keep growing a little bit nearly every month.
The entries have changed, too. We discovered that we had quite the writer in Jon Coppelman, our resident Ivy Leaguer (Columbia, in case you were wondering). Jon is the one who set the tone for entries that more closely resemble thoughtful, well-sourced op-eds with a tiny hint of attitude. His informed and colorful posts have developed quite a following.
Since that first entry in 2003, there have been more than 800 others spanning 15 categories. Julie has created and refined our endless sidebar, and it’s become the best workers’ compensation reference library in the world. Along the way, we’ve met and come to know and respect many others who’ve joined the workers comp blogosphere. For instance, Jordan Barab, at Confined Space, who showed us what passion for safety really is; Joe Paduda, at Managed Care Matters, who brilliantly bridges the workers’ comp and health care fields; and Peter Rousmaniere’s Working Immigrants, a blog that covers an important and timely topic. We’re also proud to have played a role in helping to create and support Health Wonk Review, the premier health policy carnival or “aggregator.” And, similarly, we’re proud of our affiliation with Cavalcade of Risk. These carnivals help to foster community and promote our industry.
Early on, we decided not to allow advertising on the Insider. We wanted to keep it pure, the message focused. Every once in a while, we reconsider that (Google calls every month, or so), but, so far, we’ve held firm.
So, four years in, we think we’ve created something good, something valuable, something that helps and supports the larger community. We thank you, our readers, for your loyalty as well as your comments (yes, even when you disagree with us – we believe that if we can’t defend our position, we don’t deserve to hold it). But, most of all, we thank you for your constant encouragement over these last four years. You make us want to make the Insider ever better, the best that it can be. I promise we’ll keep trying to do that.

Kudos to “Working Immigrants”

Friday, February 9th, 2007

Congratulations to Peter Rousmaniere on his one year “blogiversary” – it’s been just over a year since he launched Working Immigrants to serve as resource for the exchange of information and ideas about the business of immigrant work: employment, compensation, legal protections, education, and mobility. To commemorate his one year mark, he’s compiled a post listing notable entries from the first year of his blog, a “greatest hits,” of sorts.
Those who follow the blog regularly are aware that Peter is diligent about tracking research reports and public policy matters, and his blog has become an authoritative resource and repository for facts and data on the topic of immigrant workers. His “notable posts” entry serves as a handy cheat sheet on such matters as the size of the illegal work force, where illegal workers work, what the economic impact of the illegal work force is, and much more.
Thanks for an invaluable resource, Peter, and here’s to many more years of blogging!

Monday morning matter: intriguing new blog discoveries

Monday, December 4th, 2006

When we launched this blog some three plus years ago, finding related topical blogs was quite the task – the landscape was fairly barren. But it seems that nearly every week now, we are discovering terrific weblogs that are either new or that we just hadn’t found before. We thought we’d share a few of our recent discoveries:
Effect Measure – according to this blog’s “about” page, “the editors are senior public health scientists and practitioners whose names would be immediately recognizable to many in the public health community,” but who choose to blog anonymously to allow maximum freedom or expression. Topical matter revolves around far-ranging issues related to public health matters and epidemiology, and it’s quite a fascinating read. See the recent post on Polonium-210 poisoning. which offers informed commentary about potential public health risks that goes beyond the mainstream news snippets. Another post of interest to any who may be keeping an eye on potential pandemics is the post entitled cholera, bird flu and humility in science, which discusses John Snow’s search for the cause of cholera in Victorian London and the theory of poultry as a vector for the spread of bird flu today. We were also interested in the post on construction scaffolding spam in New York. In addition to being illegal and a public nuisance, these posters and advertisements are often a public safety hazard: “Often these oversized parapets are a safety hazard because they catch the wind like giant sails, making the entire structure more likely to collapse.”
Enterprise Decision Management – this is a weblog by James Taylor and colleagues at Fair Isaac. The blog focus is on the latest uses of business rules and decision automation, covering such topics as Business Activity Monitoring, Business Agility, Compliance, and Business Process Management. James recently posted about the LA Times article on the changing face of risk, which Jon Coppelman blogged about here last week. His recent post about Enterprise Fraud discusses a recent Towers Perrin report and adds his perspective.
Health Affairs Blog – we cited this blog once before when it was just launching, but we thought we would point it out again now that it seems to have its sea legs. This is the weblog adjunct to the respected Health Affairs Journal. Currently, many of the posts and essays revolve around health and human rights since this was the theme of November’s gathering of 13,000 attendees at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting in Boston. The most recent post informs us that more than half the uninsured can’t afford health coverage and are ineligible for public programs. The post offers free limited-time access to an Urban Institute research report on this topic.

Weblog roundup: work fatalities, HR, language barriers, psychiatric disability, and more

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

Blog carnivals – catch up on news from the blogosphere. Stop by My Money Forest, which features this week’s edition of Cavalcade of Risk. Also, we are bit tardy in pointing out last week’s edition of Health Wonk Review, hosted by The Health Care Blog.
Workplace fatalities – Jordan Barab of Confined Space brings us the good news and the bad news about the 2005 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. Here’s a related story from Occupational Hazards, courtesy of our friends at rawblogXport.
New HR weblog – we welcome our friends at ESI Employee Assistance Group to the blog world with HR Web Cafe. We liked the post on the five key competencies that a manager needs to develop high emotional intelligence quotient.
Language barriers – we’ve talked about health and safety issues related to the multilingual work force on several occasions. HealthLawProfBlog points us to a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine on Language Barriers to Healthcare.
Psychiatric disability – attorney Alan S. Pierce’s Workers Comp Matters most recent segment on The Legal Talk Network discusses psychiatric disability with attorney Bernard Mulholland, a legal expert in the field of workers comp and psychiatric disability.
Market trending – Joe Paduda tells us that the property and casualty industry is looking good, for now, but advises you might want to keep your eye on the weather channel.
Certificates of insuranceSpecialty Insurance Blog cites a recent legal in discussing certificates of insurance, and why the issuance of such certificates alone may not confer coverage.