New WC Rules for Cowboys

New Rules Strengthen Protections for Workers Who Herd Livestock on the Range

By WorkersCompensation.com

Washington, DC  – The U.S. Department of Labor announced a Final Rule today on the employment of foreign workers in jobs related to the herding of livestock on the range, including the herding of sheep and goats. The regulation, the H-2A Herder Final Rule, implements a methodology to address wage stagnation and prevent adverse effects on U.S. workers.

bull rider at a Mexican rodeoThe new rules effect jobs related to the herding of sheep, goats and other livestock on the range because some standard H-2A rule requirements — adopted in 2010 — do not readily apply to unique occupations that place workers in remote locations where they are on call 24 hours per day, seven days a week.

Under the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program, employers who are unable to hire sufficient domestic workers may bring nonimmigrant foreign workers to the U.S. for temporary or seasonal agricultural work. The employer must file an application stating that a sufficient number of domestic workers are not available and the employment of these workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed workers in the U.S. Employers using the H-2A program must meet a number of specific conditions relating to recruitment, wages, housing, meals and transportation.

The new H-2A Herder Final Rule creates a single regulation covering all jobs related to herding or production of livestock on the range and streamlines the process for employers filing applications. The regulation responds to a federal court decision in Mendoza v. Perez requiring the U.S. Department of Labor to replace sub-regulatory guidance that previously set the standards for employment of foreign workers in herding occupations on the range.

The nature of these occupations — on call 24/7 in remote locations — and the scarcity of U.S. workers in the occupations have made setting an appropriate minimum wage difficult, resulting in wage stagnation for nearly 20 years.

[READ MORE HERE]

5 Shots Of Tequila Does Not Always Equal Denied Work Comp Claim

October 14, 2015 by Michael B. Stack

Pee Wee Herman on bar dancing to TequilaImagine the following scenario when handling a workers’ compensation claim:

John Doe is a construction worker who shows up for work on Monday morning appearing to being “a little off his game.” Shortly after starting work he falls from some scaffolding and suffers a severe work injury.  Following the accident, he was taken to a hospital.  Post-injury blood testing is performed and it is determined his blood alcohol level is three times the legal limit. 

Sounds like an easy case for maintaining a denial of primary liability related to the work injury, right?

Sadly, this is not the case.

What is the “Intoxication Defense?”

Under most workers’ compensation laws, employers and insurers can successfully deny primary liability related to injuries sustained when an employee is “intoxicated.”  This defense is not limited to being impacted by alcohol.  It can also include intoxication from street drugs or other controlled substances.
 
Questions as to Legal Causation

Notwithstanding the obvious impairment in the above situation, the ultimate question for the courts is typically one of the legal or proximate cause of the work injury.  One example of this issue came into play in Kowalik v. Martinson Construction, July 8, 2004, MN WCCA.

Continue reading 5 Shots Of Tequila Does Not Always Equal Denied Work Comp Claim

11% of Americans Now on Antidepressant Meds

By 

monsters eating people full of anti-drepressantsSacramento, CA
A recent study indicates that more than two-thirds of people who have been prescribed antidepressants are likely not suffering from depression at all. Sixty-nine percent of those taking SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) such as Prozac, do not display the classic symptoms of major depressive disorder, which is commonly known as clinical depression, according to a report published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

SSRIs are also prescribed for other mental disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, and panic disorder, but the researchers found that 38 percent of those taking the drugs did not meet the criteria for these conditions either.

Commonly considered to have fewer side effects than other antidepressants, SSRIs are the most prescribed class of drugs for treating depression and other psychiatric disorders.

The authors of the study say that many individuals who are prescribed and use antidepressant medications may not have met criteria for mental disorders. Our data indicate that antidepressants are commonly used in the absence of clear evidence-based indications.

[READ FULL STORY HERE]

Duke CPR App Essential For Everyone Without CPR Training

Duke CPR app screenWhen someone suffers a cardiac arrest, every minute counts – literally. By some estimates, every minute that passes without CPR reduces chances of survival by 5-10%.

We’ve seen some really interesting efforts that aim to get CPR to cardiac arrest victims faster using smartphones. To help improve rates of bystander CPR, the American Heart Association shifted to a compression only CPR strategy for bystander CPR.

The Duke CPR app is the product of a partnership between the Duke Heart Center and the Women’s Health Initiative to help educate people about compression-only CPR.

The app is appropriately basic in design. It opens with three options: Crisis Mode, CPR Training Mode, and Learn More.

Duke CPR app screenIn CPR Training Mode, users are walked through a series of videos that go over why CPR is important and step-by-step guidance on how to perform CPR. Despite the fact that the videos feature Duke athletes, they are well done and include a good combination of animations and live demonstrations. Videos go full screen when the phone is in landscape.

Continue reading Duke CPR App Essential For Everyone Without CPR Training

Stay-At-Work Is The Correct Mindset In Return To Work

October 15, 2015 by Michael B. Stack

cartoon about job descriptionsReturn-to-Work (RTW) programs are designed to have the injured employee brought back to work during their medical recovery process. Partly because they help a company maintain productivity while keeping costs down, an increasing number of companies are altering their RTW programs to include Stay-at-Work (SAW) policies. Under SAW, all but the most critically injured employees are assigned modified duties, or even a totally new and different job immediately following the initial medical visit.

Stay-At-Work Program Assigns Modified Duty Position Immediately

With a SAW program, the employer’s workers’ compensation coordinator contacts the medical provider during the time the injured employee is traveling from the accident scene to the medical provider.  The medical provider is advised the employer will offer the injured employee modified duties that meet medical restrictions imposed by the physician, including providing total sedentary work, if necessary. The workers’ comp coordinator should also request that the employee’s work restrictions be provided immediately following the employee’s first medical visit for the injury.

A comprehensive SAW program incorporates modifications of the employee’s job description, modification of the employee’s work schedule, and changing of the employee’s work station location, if needed.  By being totally flexible, the employer will limit the loss of productivity while also hopefully maintaining a high level of loyalty from the injured employee.

The Benefits of Stay At Work Programs

The integration of a SAW program with a RTW offering compliments and multiplies the benefits obtained from maintaining the latter. By reducing or eliminating the amount of time an injured employee is off work, the dual programs create the following benefits:

  • Fewer lost days
  • Consistent productivity
  • Higher employee morale as the worker sees the employer is concerned they maintain an income comparable to what it was prior to the injury
  • Predictable profits for the employer

[READ FULL STORY HERE] 

Copyright Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc.   Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives

Home on the (Workers’ Comp) Range

New Rules Strengthen Protections for Workers Who Herd Livestock on the Range

By WorkersCompensation.com

New Rules title with cowboy boot/hat graphicWashington, DC  – The U.S. Department of Labor announced a Final Rule today on the employment of foreign workers in jobs related to the herding of livestock on the range, including the herding of sheep and goats. The regulation, the H-2A Herder Final Rule, implements a methodology to address wage stagnation and prevent adverse effects on U.S. workers.

The new rules effect jobs related to the herding of sheep, goats and other livestock on the range because some standard H-2A rule requirements — adopted in 2010 — do not readily apply to unique occupations that place workers in remote locations where they are on call 24 hours per day, seven days a week.

Under the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program, employers who are unable to hire sufficient domestic workers may bring nonimmigrant foreign workers to the U.S. for temporary or seasonal agricultural work. The employer must file an application stating that a sufficient number of domestic workers are not available and the employment of these workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed workers in the U.S. Employers using the H-2A program must meet a number of specific conditions relating to recruitment, wages, housing, meals and transportation.

The new H-2A Herder Final Rule creates a single regulation covering all jobs related to herding or production of livestock on the range and streamlines the process for employers filing applications. The regulation responds to a federal court decision in Mendoza v. Perez requiring the U.S. Department of Labor to replace sub-regulatory guidance that previously set the standards for employment of foreign workers in herding occupations on the range.

Texting Trial Shows Dramatic Reduction in Blood Pressure

Satish Misra, MD | 

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has shown that a surprisingly simple text messaging program can reduce body mass index (BMI), smoking rates, blood pressure, and LDL-C levels in heart disease patients1.

graphic showing results of text messages on blood pressurePatients who have had a heart attack or other cardiovascular disease events are at high risk for recurrence and so secondary prevention strategies are critical. And like many clinicians, I also spend a lot of time singing the praises of cardiac rehabilitation to convince my patients that investing their time in these programs will be worth it. In addition to supervised exercise, these programs provide a wide range of counseling and education to help patients make difficult behavior changes, like quitting smoking or turning around their diet.

And recognizing widespread under-utilization of this resource, we’ve seen some efforts to take cardiac rehabilitation mobile.

A group of Australian researchers designed a simple text messaging based program to deliver at least some motivational support and education to heart disease patients. This program delivered four text messages per week for six months covering smoking, diet, exercising, and other cardiovascular health topics. And aside from some simple personalization strategies, like adding the patient’s name to some messages or not sending anti-smoking messages to non-smokers, messages were selected at random from a large message bank designed by clinicians and other healthcare professionals.

They randomized just over 700 patients to receive this intervention or to usual care; patients were followed for six months. The benefits they found were impressive, particularly for blood pressure, for a surprisingly simple intervention. For comparison, starting a standard dose of HCTZ is estimated to lower systolic blood pressure by 8 mm Hg.

Walking Workstations Reduce Muscle Pain

By EmploymentLawAcademy.com 

hamster wheel walking workstationSacramento, CA
A researcher at McGill University in Quebec says her study of treadmill workstations show them to be potentially more beneficial and able to help diminish work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Kinesiology researchers are studying ways to reduce or even prevent muscular and skeletal stresses and pains. The study as summarized in Reuters Health shows that walking while working on a computer may lead to healthier muscular patterns. The research was published this year in the European Journal of Applied Physiology.

“There are studies recently that show that you lose weight because you would exert more calories, but we were more interested in knowing about the muscles that do the work. The muscles in the neck/shoulder region are the ones that feel the pain and experience fatigue,” says Julie Cote, an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education whose research focuses on biomechanics and ergonomics.

Cote’s lab asked 20 healthy participants to complete a 90-minute typing task on a computer while sitting or walking on a treadmill. This typing task measured both speed and accuracy. “We found out that in terms of performance – typing performance – there was no difference between how fast or how many mistakes people were making whether they were walking or seated,” said Cote.

For the experiment, they placed electrodes on certain parts of the body to measure muscle activity in the neck, shoulders, forearms, wrists and lower back. Cote said the electrodes collected three points of data – blood flow, muscle activity and movement or posture – with the help of motion capture. Her lab asked participants to rate their level of discomfort while performing tasks. Results showed that upper limb discomfort was higher when the subjects were sitting and increased the longer they sat.

[READ FULL STORY HERE]

Industry Bloggers Debate Top Workers’ Comp Issues

By  
graphic for bloggers name top workers' comp issuesTop industry bloggers debated the hottest issues facing the workers’ compensation and risk management industry at the 2015 California Workers’ Compensation and Risk Conference.

Is the grand bargain of workers’ compensation eroding?
Robinson: Exclusivity is still relatively resilient. That portion of the grand bargain is still doing relatively well. The Oklahoma Option is threatening to bleed into neighboring states, but exclusivity from a legal standpoint still remains resilient.Wilson: I think Padgett was a wake-up call to a degree. When the grand bargain was struck, the people that created it are no longer here. Employers today don’t necessarily appreciate the protections they are afforded and this can threaten the system.DePaolo: The grand bargain was negotiated 100 years ago and has morphed into something different. When you get down to basics, though, it still works.States are looking at treatment guidelines and formularies. Do you think this is different from what they have been experiencing in group health?

Gavin: No, it’s not. Good providers tend to view formularies as things that keep misbehaving doctors in check. Formularies in group health are intended to signal items like preferential pricing. Those concepts don’t exist in work comp. Formularies are coming. We are going to see them soon. You can’t compare them – they all take different approaches – and California is developing its own.

What about treatment guidelines? Why is California different?

Gavin: This is an important questions because the work comp system is fragmented nationally. We have 50+ sets of rules and guidelines on how to manage our system. That level of complexity is incredibly. Now we are introducing a list of medical guidelines to this. How do you reconcile that? Injuries are the same in all states. They aren’t unique in California. These are the mini bargains in the grand bargain.

Wilson: I think we have a problem with a perception of increased disability from a societal standpoint. Often, injured workers perceive their injury differently from the reality. We have to gain a better understanding of the psych component to better help our workers.

DePaolo: Work comp in the U.S. is a states’ rights issue. Every state wants to control its own population. It’s a bargaining chip in state politics.

Continue reading Industry Bloggers Debate Top Workers’ Comp Issues

The Current State of California Workers’ Compensation

By Safety National 10/01/2015

Seal fro the State of California Department of InsuranceAt the 2015 California Workers’ Compensation & Risk Conference, this panel of industry stakeholders weighed in on the overall condition, including cost drivers and legislation, affecting California workers’ compensation system.

 

How does the California’s workers’ compensation system compare to other states?

• California ranks #1 in costs compared to the rest of the United States.

• California simply has more claims that cost more money. That is why California is the most expensive and complicated state.

• Every time California changes a law, the system gets more complex.

• What influences workers’ comp is far more than just the laws, though. The social norms are different in California. It is a unique culture of employment that impacts everything. There are a lot of things that employers and the healthcare community do that are driving these costs.

Why are claims costs so expensive in the Los Angeles basin versus the rest of California?

• Injured employees are transferred away at a larger rate from the primary treating physician of the employer’s choice.

• There is a very different treatment pattern compared to other states and this medical treatment is driving costs for employers.

[READ FULL STORY HERE]