California Legislature Turning Up Heat on Farm Labor Law

Summer heat safety patch
A Hot Time in Sacramento

And burning the midnight oil.

The California Legislature is working longer hours this week to consider hundreds of bills before a Friday deadline. Farmers and farmworker advocates are watching one bill in particular that would revamp rules to protect those toiling under the summer heat. Reporter: Alice Daniel.

Click to listen. FarmLabor_heatLaw

Using Facebook and Social Media as Tools in Workers’ Comp Investigation

Facebook logo with spy
Here's lookin' at you, kid!

We live in an interconnected world. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, MySpace,personal web pages, blogging, Foursquare, or whatever else lies in the future, it all makes for a source of evidence for the claims adjuster to dig up some dirt on a questionable claim.

But how can the adjusters use evidence in social media to their advantage? Obviously the first answer is to gather evidence that may contradict the level of disability claimed by the plaintiff in a workers’ comp case.

But even when evidence is found, it is not always helpful to the defense of a case. It can depend on where it is found, what site it is found on, when it was posted, and what the actual activity may have been.


It seems everyone has a Facebook page these days to stay in contact with friends, family, groups, hobbyists, and more. So what are some red flags for the claims adjuster?

The first clue for and adjuster is to look for a Facebook page. If it is not blocked or marked private, this can be used in several ways. People typically will give statements about daily activities, sometimes multiple times per day, all while posting pictures, giving locations, and talking about life in general.

For example, if the claimant is stating to be totally disabled, but there are several dates of them posting pictures to their Facebook page out running errands, fishing, going to music concerts, etc., then there several defenses to shoot disability claims down. If the case goes to litigation, this may or may not help, but it certainly will raise the question of doubt against the claimant statements. It is not an air-tight case since anyone can type anything in as a Facebook “status”, but it can certainly help begin a surveillance quest. Continue reading Using Facebook and Social Media as Tools in Workers’ Comp Investigation

Summer Safety Savings

yellow highway sign that says "Workplace Safety Toolkit"Get Your Team on Board with Safety, Save on Workers’ Comp

Republished with permission from 11/05/2012

We all know that the best workers’ compensation claim is the claim that never happened. We have written various articles on what management can do to prevent claims, including creating and/or improving a safety program.  This top down approach is effective and leads to the prevention of accidents.

What the top down approach often misses is the importance of having the supervisors actively involved in the safety program.  The importance of safety training for the field supervisors or the floor supervisors cannot be overstated.

The safety responsibilities of the lower level management ( the supervisors ) need to be incorporated into the job descriptions just as much as production goals, financial goals or other performance measurements.

The safety objectives that should be a part of the job description of every supervisor are :

• Regular inspections of the work area to identify any safety issues

• Responsibility for initiating work orders for safety related repairs

• Responsibility for insuring all needed repairs are completed timely

• Responsibility for identifying areas where improvements of the physical area would reduce risk

• Knowing and complying with all OSHA requirements

• Knowing and complying with all state safety laws

Continue reading Summer Safety Savings

Return To Work Roundtable Opens on LinkedIn

Return to Work logoBy Robert Wilson 14/05/2012 12:30:00

Return to Work Roundtable, a new subgroup of the LinkedIn Workers Compensation Roundtable

Recently the managers of the Workers’ Compensation Roundtable on LinkedIn asked the membership what kind of subgroups they would like to see added the group. We received excellent suggestions, and are pleased to announce that the first new subgroup from this discussion is now available.

The Return to Work Roundtable is now up and running for people interested in discussing specific ideas, challenges and issues pertaining to the RTW process in Workers’ Compensation. The co-managers of the Workers’ Compensation Roundtable will be joined in the RTW Roundtable by Mike Benishek, Director, Risk Management & Insurance for PTG Management Company. Those interested in joining the group can do so here.

Managing Growth Through Sub Groups:

The design of the LinkedIn forums make it very difficult to effectively track many active conversations at one time and that is a constant challenge for large, successful groups like the Workers’ Compensation Roundtable, now approaching 5,000 members. As it continues to grow, the managers are looking to prevent the group from becoming too diluted, and the conversations and information from being “too hard to track”. Their primary concept for managing growth on the Roundtable is for doing so through what they refer to as a “hub and spoke” design. They envision the Roundtable itself being the core strength of the group (the “hub”), but to allow more targeted and focused discussions through select and better defined sub groups (the spokes”).

Tick Season Reveals Debate Over Lyme Disease


Beth Marie MoleLyme Disease chart of increased cases

Posted:   05/15/2012 08:30:23 AM PDT
Updated:   05/15/2012 08:50:57 AM PDT

Looming over a heart-wrenching image of a hospitalized woman is the grim message that “chronic Lyme disease” is as disabling as congestive heart failure. The online ad aims to spread awareness of the tick-transmitted disease creeping through the state. But health experts say chronic Lyme doesn’t exist and worry that what’s really lurking is misinformation.

May is Lyme disease awareness month, which coincides with the debut of young (nymph-stage) ticks that help transmit the disease. Vocal patient-advocacy groups, such as the California-based, which posted the online ad, say the disease is everywhere, difficult to treat and causes debilitating “chronic Lyme.”

But the Infectious Diseases Society of America, backed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, disagrees and is pushing back against what it considers part of a wave of anti-science health movements.

The dispute is heated. In the fall, a group of IDSA physicians and scientists, writing in an opinion piece in the medical journal The Lancet, equated people who believe in chronic Lyme to those who deny the benefits of vaccines and the existence of AIDS.

Yet, many advocacy groups have pushed — successfully — for laws that protect patients and doctors who believe in the chronic illness and don’t follow standard diagnostic procedures or treatments. California passed legislation in 2005 that shields doctors from professional discipline for prescribing alternative Lyme treatments.

To say the least, the divide is unfortunate, says Dr. Robert Lane, a leading tick-born disease expert and epidemiologist at UC Berkeley. “I think that both sides want to get to the truth,” he said. Continue reading Tick Season Reveals Debate Over Lyme Disease

5 More Ways to Reduce the Risk of Back Injuries

Dolly or hand truck
Hello, Dolly. Goodbye Back Pain

By Republished with permission from 04/05/2012 16:17:00

In the first part of this article, we discussed some general tips about how to lessen the risk for occurrences of back injury at the workplace.  I had a chance to further discuss this matter with some of my peers, and I discovered I left out some rather good ideas.

So here are 5 more ways to reduce the risk for workers sustaining back injuries while at work.

1. Use a dolly or other wheeled device for moving boxes and materials.

Instead of having the worker carry boxes by hand or push them across the floor to their destination, require workers to use a dolly. Not only can more material be moved in one trip, but it is easier and safer as well.  This may seem like simple common sense, but it may seem surprising how many employers do not have a dolly or wheeled cart.  It really is amazing!  A dolly or cart is the oldest mode of moving material around, and for an employer not to have one is quite frankly surprising. Using the dolly will lessen the workload for the worker’s muscles, allowing them to be more productive and less prone to injury. Get one with bigger tires, and strong fabrication.  Make sure it can handle the weight of the work demands.

2. Wearing lumbar supports
If there are workers that have to manually move material by hand, get them some lumbar supports.  In addition to teaching them the proper way to lift, a lumbar support will help to keep the spine in proper alignment, forcing the lower half of the body to carry the burden of the task at hand.  This alone will result in decreased injury due to improper lifting.  It is possible to still sustain a lumbar strain while wearing a lumbar support, but wearing one lessens the chances.  Everyone that works at  the plant does not need one; just get enough for dock workers or for any workers that have to do repetitive carrying on a daily basis.

3. Wearing proper footwear
Feet take a beating day in and day out.  This is especially true for those on their feet all day, while wearing work boots and walking on hard surfaces.  But the woes of foot pain are not just for the construction worker; retail workers and others have job demands where they have to stand for a long time.  To lessen this pain, workers should be encouraged to use sole inserts for their boots or shoes.  This will lessen the “shock” your spine has to absorb from your work demands, and make feet and legs feel better and less fatigued.  These sole inserts are usually pretty cheap, especially when purchased in bulk. Continue reading 5 More Ways to Reduce the Risk of Back Injuries

On the Yellow Brick Jogging Path with Dr. Oz

Yellow Brick Jogging Path
Follow it to big savings for California healthcare

Dr. Mehmet Oz joined California state officials Monday in launching a pilot workplace-wellness program aimed at getting public workers to improve their health as a way to save the state money on health care costs.

The host of “The Dr. Oz Show” appeared with the state controller and state treasurer in Sacramento to launch “Health Happens in the Workplace,” which will focus on preventing chronic diseases.

“Remember, for every dollar we invest to make you healthier, the state and you save three bucks,” Oz told a crowd of several hundred state workers gathered in the outdoor courtyard of the California Museum. “It’s the wisest decision.”

A study commissioned by the state controller’s office found that California could save between $18 million and $54 million a year if between 5 percent and 15 percent of its government workers are able to prevent chronic diseases.

The study by the Urban Institute found that California spent $1.6 billion on health care in 2008. About 22 percent, or $362 million, was spent on preventable conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

State Controller John Chiang told workers that staying healthy will help control skyrocketing medical costs. State Treasurer Bill Lockyer used himself as an example, noting that he has lost 40 pounds this year through exercise and eating right.

HealthCorps, a Sacramento-based nonprofit founded by Dr. Oz and his wife to fight childhood obesity, will partner with the state on the pilot program along with The California Endowment, Kaiser Permanente and the Service Employees International Union Local 1000, which is the largest state workers union.

Oz said he hopes the workplace-wellness program will be a model for the rest of the country.

“I’m pleading with you. You guys are going first. If we don’t do it right in California, it’s not going to be able to spread across this nation,” Oz said.

Oz told the audience that he performed bypass heart surgery three years ago on a 25-year-old woman. To celebrate, her husband brought her a platter of hamburgers and fries.

“I realized right then and there, that all of you pay people like me a lot of money to do things to you. But that’s not where the value is,” he said. “The reason you ignore that message is that we haven’t given it to you the right way.”

The pilot program, which will start with the Department of Public Health, will focus on health education, employee screenings and supportive physical and social environments.

During the rally, Oz, a heart surgeon, jumped off the stage to tend to a state worker who had fainted while standing in the sun during the event. Department of Public Health worker Eunice Pannell said afterward that she didn’t know she had blacked out. She was treated and released by paramedics on scene.