Posts Tagged ‘workers compensation’

Minnesota Issues Workers Compensation System Report

Tuesday, August 10th, 2004

Minnesota’s Department of Labor and Industry just issued a Workers’ Compensation System Report that covers data and trends in the state’s system from 2000 through 2002. The good news? Claims fell by more than 15% during that time. The bad news?
” … cost per $100 of payroll rose 18 percent during the same two-year period. The report estimates the cost rose to $1.58 per $100 of payroll in 2002 from $1.34 in 2000.
This echoes a national trend of a decrease in frequency and an increase in severity. Also, for the first time in the state, the medical portion of the claim eclipsed the indemnity portion in terms of overall costs. The full report can be accessed online through the link provided above.

Top 10 reasons injured workers retain attorneys

Monday, July 26th, 2004

The Public Entity Risk Institute (PERI) has a wealth of resources on its site so we’ll be adding it to our sidebar under “organizations.” In digging through the site we came upon a symposium topic that was presented last December by Massachusetts plaintiff attorney Alan S. Pierce entitled Top Ten List as to Why Injured Workers Retain Attorneys. (pdf) The article presents a good overview of practices that are fairly guaranteed to drive an injured worker into the arms of an attorney – all from the perspective of an attorney who has seen his share of worker grievances. It’s instructive reading in how not to treat an employee who has been injured on the job. You can read his full remarks in the linked article, but here’s an overview of his top ten reasons:
1. Claim is denied
2. No contact by employer or insurer
3. Overbearing or intrusive contact by the employer
4. Bills unpaid, prescriptions unreimbursed
5. Lawyer advertising/solicitation
6. Advice of friends, family, or medical provider
7. Lack of modified duty work/employer harassment after return to work
8. Worker/employer dissatisfaction
9. Loss of health insurance; other benefits
10. The accident that never should have happened
PERI offers access to a wealth of other risk management articles and papers by industry experts from past symposiums, and while some are geared to topics that are specific to the needs of its member organizations, (e.g., fire departments) many cover general employer-related issues.

Weblog roundup: subrogation, TB in DC & VA, CFO survey, PBMs, robots, & more

Thursday, July 22nd, 2004

Construction site injury – can someone other than a comp carrier be liable? – subrogation case law from Michigan Comp Law.
A few recent offerings from Jordan Barab at Confined Space: TB Control in DC and VA and Immigrant Worker Fatalities – the Facts
Duke University CFO Survey – Duke University�s Fuqua School of Business polls the CFOs of both public and private companies in the U.S. representing a broad range of industries, geographic areas and revenues. (via Synergy Fest)
10 Questions That Benefits Managers Should Ask Their PBM“Pharmaceutical Benefits Managers are often known simply as �PBMs.� While they are largely unrecognized by most employees — and even by many benefits managers — they have a tremendous impact on US health care decision-making because they influence more than 80 percent of prescription drug coverage. … So how can you, as a benefits manager, make the best pharmacy decision for your employees?”(via Benefitsblog)
When good robots go bad – Industrial robotics provide unforeseen risks to humans. “In many of the reported cases, the injured workers were frequently found to have been inside the robot’s safeguarded or restricted space during its automatic operation. In all cases the robot was following its programmed path; it was not behaving in an erratic or unexpected fashion. Finally, the injured workers were performing foreseeable tasks, such as repair or maintenance work, or were attempting to free up some kind of jam or problem.”
(Via rawblogXport)

Cases Hold Date of Injury in Cumulative Trauma Case is Last Day of Work
– recent case law in PA from PAWC.
And two more legal resources to add to our sidebar: California Labor & Employment Law – A legal weblog (blawg) dedicated to news & issues surrounding labor & employment law in California. (via Inter Alia) and Lawyer News (via Ernie the Attorney).

Lightning strike prevention and survivor resources

Saturday, July 17th, 2004

A recent news story about a 42-year old Bradenton, Florida carpenter who was killed by lightening is sad a reminder that this is the prime season to be on alert for electrical storms. Every year, workers, account for about one third of the total number of people struck by lightening.
Lightning strikes are most likely to occur between 2 pm and 6 pm from June to August. While lightning strikes can occur anywhere, this lightning fatality distribution map demonstrates that there is a greater risk in southern and midwestern states. According to the National Lightning Safety Institute, “eighty five percent of lightning victims are children and young men ages 10-35 engaged in recreation or work. Twenty percent of strike victims die and 70% of survivors suffer serious long-term after effects.
Outdoor workers (or anyone outdoors, for that matter) should take precautions at the early onset of an electrical storm (pdf). These include seeking appropriate shelter and knowing the steps to take as last resort safety measures when in immediate peril.
Workers who spend time outdoors should be trained in prevention. Employers should include lightning safety policies and procedures as part of their overall prevention program, and should review these policies seasonally.
Roofers, construction workers, road crews, and farm workers are examples of jobs at risk, but risk managers should be aware of the risks for inside workers and those in vehicles, too…every year, people are injured or killed by lightning traveling through telephone lines.
According to the National Weather Service, about 20% to 30% of the strikes result in fatalities. The medical conditions resulting from strikes can be complex and sometimes rather mysterious, differing markedly from voltage shocks. In an article entitled Disability, Not Death, Is the Main Problem With Lightning Injury (pdf), Dr. Mary Ann Cooper discusses some of the medical complexities that can plague those recovering from the aftermath of a strike. Lightning Strike & Electrical Shock Survivors International, Inc. (LS&ESSI) is a nonprofit support group for survivors and their families.
More lightning resources
Hazard alert – lightning protection – from the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health (In English and Spanish)
Human Voltage – What Happens When People and Lightning Converge – from Science @ NASA
Lightning’s Social and Economic Costs and other extensive resources from the
National Lightning Safety Institute – an organization that consults and trains in lightning safety and lightning engineering issues.
Lightning survivor stories and lightening photos – from the National Weather Service

Ohio getting tough on premium compliance

Friday, July 16th, 2004

Employers in Ohio would do well to ensure that they keep their workers’ compensation premium payments up to date. The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) recently issued a press release naming employers who have lapsed premium payments.
Ohio is one of five states where a state fund is the exclusive provider of workers insurance. The other states are North Dakota, Washington, Wyoming, and West Virginia.
According to the release, more than 1,710 Ohio businesses are breaking the law by letting their premium reach a lapsed status of more than $1,000. The BWC takes efforts to bring employers into compliance, but when unsuccessful, the Attorney General pursues legal action. By publicizing the top 150 noncompliant Ohio employers, the state fund is enlisting the help of the public.
“Businesses that do not pay their premiums have an unfair advantage,” [James] Conrad [administrator and CEO] said. “In competitive bidding situations, Ohio employers that do not pay into the workers’ compensation system can undercut competition and unfairly win a job. By stealing from BWC and Ohio, these companies are also stealing work they normally might not win, and it’s imperative the bureau, along with state’s employers and taxpayers, put a stop to this type of activity.”
As part of the push to secure compliance, BWC has added an employer coverage look-up tool to its website. BWC suggests the following scenarios where the tool might be useful:

  • Ohio homeowners who have recently hired a contractor for their services;
  • Ohio employers who are curious about those with whom they do business;
  • Ohio contractors who want to check on the coverage status of subcontractors.

With some few exceptions, failure by employers to secure workers compensation coverage for their employees is illegal in most states, and considered as fraud. Other types of premium fraud include under-reporting the number of employees or payroll, misclassifying employee occupations, or any other scheme to avoid or underpay premium. Many states encourage employees to report any suspected employer fraud to either their state insurance authority or the state

Weblog roundup: exit interviews, settlements, tort reform, & disease prevention

Friday, July 9th, 2004

George Lenard reminds us that exit interviews are important and points us to this sample exit interview from Workforce.
Ronald Ryan tells us how workers compensation settlements are calculated in Michigan.
Are personal injury lawyers in Pennsylvania looking to workers comp after tort reform? A cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice liability cases seems to have attorneys looking for other sources of income. Thanks to Judge Robert Vonada at PAWC for the article.
The Harvard Center for Disease Prevention features a series of online medical risk assessment tests that help you determine your risk for the big 5 – cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and stroke. We found this via Research Buzz, an excellent site by Tara Calishain that covers the world of Internet research.

Weblog roundup – “concierge medicine,” trench deaths, and other news

Friday, July 2nd, 2004

Asking us if we have lost our capacity for outrage, Tom Mayo reports on the disturbing trend of concierge medicine in a post at HealthLawBlog. The nub of the story is that a class of medicine is emerging where those who can afford it essentially pay an additional premium – or “a bribe,” as some have called it – to ensure quality care. Read his post and the source article from Newsday entitled Good health care: for rich people only?.
Just in time for the 4th of July, OSHA announces and Alliance with the American Pyrotechnics Association to promote fireworks safety. Via rawblogXport.
Perhaps OSHA should be putting more efforts into enforcement and less into Alliances? Jordan Barab reports on another infuriatingly preventable trench death. If you follow Confined Space, this is a sad litany you will find over and over again in his posts. Yet as Jordan reports, compliance with OSHA standards could prevent trench deaths.
Workforce Insights is an online resource for HR practitioners that covers news about emerging labor trends and issues. It’s sponsored by a Fidelity staffing company, Veritude. Thanks to Benefitsblog for the pointer.
Last week, we wrote about workers comp coverage for contract workers in Iraq. For more information on the topic of contract workers in Iraq, Workforce Management currently features an article about contract workers entitled Dangerous Business. Also, the Washington Post has a report about an underclass of foreign workers who are being recruited – often unwittingly – to work in Iraq. These workers get less pay, poor food and shelter, and inadequate safety measures in comparison to U.S. counterparts.
Have you visited KivaCom yet? We’ve pointed it out before, and it is among the resources in our sidebar. It’s a great resource that culls some of the most significant national and regional (Ohio) news stories on workers comp, health care, legal, labor and safety issues…well worth a regular visit.
Over & out – have a happy and safe holiday weekend, people!

Weblog news roundup

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2004

The Weekly Toll – In his Father’s Day post, Jordan Barab at Confined Space recounts last week’s workplace deaths, noting the children who must grow up without fathers and the fathers who must bury their sons. It should serve as a sobering reminder to all of us who work in this business what our work is really all about: keeping workers safe on the job.

Summer Electrical Safety Tips for Kids – these are good rules for kids of all ages, actually. Thanks to rawblogXport for the pointer.

Michigan Comp Law features a recent post on the cost of workers comp claims in Iraq. We’ve been meaning to post on this topic too, perhaps we’ll add to the discussion later this week.

Tom Peters has a weblog. Welcome to the “blogosphere,” Tom.

Green Slime Syndrome – The Onion reports on this alarming work hazard. Thanks to Medpundit. ;-)

Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) to expire

Monday, June 7th, 2004

The three-year Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) is set to expire December 31, 2005 unless Congress acts to extend it. This is of great concern to insurers who will soon be negotiating and writing business insurance policies for 2005 and beyond. Any policies that are written after 1/1/05 will not be fully protected by federal backstop insurance.

An industry coalition of concerned insurance parties is petitioning Congress to extend TRIA, stating that “Without a risk-spreading mechanism, the right attack could very well bring the insurance industry to its knees, and significantly destabilize our economic infrastructure.”

Although the original measure was intended to be a bridge, industry spokespeople are united in calling for an extension as being essential for the stability of the industry. The following were among the points made in Senate banking Committee testimony:

“The commercial property-casualty insurance sector continues to lack the financial capacity to handle catastrophic terrorism losses on its own. Certain plausible event scenarios estimate insured losses from another catastrophic terrorist attack on U.S. soil could exceed $250 billion, far exceeding the entire commercial property-casualty industry’s estimated capacity.

“Terrorism risk cannot be modeled or predicted. Because terrorism defies the normal underwriting and rating principles, that limits the ability of property-casualty insurers to advance a private mechanism for that risk. For example, the complex and deliberate nature of terrorism prevents insurers and policyholders from using loss control as an effective tool to minimize the risk.”

Backstop insurance is of particular concern in workers compensation. Workers comp is different from other types of insurance where events occur and they are paid for within a short amount of time. Workers comp claims have a long tail by their very nature, meaning that payment can extend over many years after the original event. Insurers must maintain reserves to cover the expected cost until the claim is closed.

With the September 11 event, workers comp insurance was on the line for the death benefits for workers killed in the attack; it is also the “exclusive remedy” for any workers who sustained injuries during the attack, or who were in the “course and scope” of employment during the extensive cleanup projects in the aftermath of the attack. Recently, we’ve seen alarming reports that the dust from the World Trade Center attacks is more toxic than originally estimated, and that the associated range of health problems may be severe. We may have only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of survivor health problems. This is a dramatic example of the “long tail” claims that can be associated with workers comp.
For more on this topic:
Terrorism risk and workers compensation
Workers Comp and Terror: The Long Shadow

Heart attacks on the job: are they covered by workers compensation?

Tuesday, June 1st, 2004

Lately, we’ve had several visitors to the site searching for information about heart attacks. We take that to mean that people are trying to determine whether a heart attack that occurs in the workplace is a compensable event. Not everything that occurs in the workplace is deemed compensable and that is particularly true of illnesses. Generally, a heart attack in and of itself would not be a compensable event. The acid test for compensability would revolve around whether it can be determined that the heart attack is an event that has arisen out of and in the course of employment.

First, as with anything related to workers comp, your state law will prevail. Because workers comp legislation varies by state, there is no universal dictate that would apply nationally so we are speaking in generalities here. Heart attacks and strokes can be complex issues and may require legal consultation.
“Arising out of employment” means that a heart attack would have to be job related, or in other words, did the heart attack happen because of the work? Was there a causal connection? “In the course and scope of employment” generally would have to do with the time, place, and surrounding events.
Illnesses and conditions are often progressive in nature, and they may be due to other or unknown causes, such as family history, obesity, smoking, etc. It would be up to the worker to prove that the heart attack was related to or caused – at least in part – by the work. Were there precipitating work factors, such as unusual physical exertion or mental stress? Also, in any discussion of heart attacks, the issue of pre-existing conditions often comes into play. While pre-existing conditions would generally not be compensable, they would also not necessarily be a bar to compensability. If it can be shown that the work aggravated or accelerated a pre-existing condition, compensability may be granted.