Tag Archives: workers’ compensation

Never Take Temp Worker Safety for Granted

By ReduceYourWorkersComp

t-shirt that reads, "Temporary Employee. Please don't ask me any hard questions."While many employers will use temporary workers during the year, do they look at them just as closely as their regular employees when it comes to safety measures?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recently released Recommended Practices for staffing agencies and host employers to better protect temporary workers from hazards on the job.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels made the announcement at the Voluntary Protection Programs Participants’ Association annual conference in National Harbor, Md. The new Recommended Practices publication highlights the joint responsibility of the staffing agency and host employer to ensure temporary workers are provided a safe work environment.

“An employer’s commitment to the safety of temporary workers should not mirror these workers’ temporary status,” said Dr. Michaels. “Whether temporary or permanent, all workers always have a right to a safe and healthy workplace. Staffing agencies and the host employers are joint employers of temporary workers and both are responsible for providing and maintaining safe working conditions. Our new Recommended Practices publication highlights this joint responsibility.”

Temps See Increased Risk of Problems

Continue reading Never Take Temp Worker Safety for Granted

New Opioids to Reduce Abuse and Workers’ Comp Costs

graphic of person made of prescription pillsPrescription Drugs Major Expense in Insurance Claims

Recent trends in auditing the expenses within insurance claims point to prescription medication as being one of the major expenses involved in these insurance claims. Within these costs, opioid pain medications tend to lead the way as some of the most expensive medications out there. It seems that physicians can be rather quick to prescribe Vicodin and OxyContin for the general strain injury, and of course the prescription of these medications can lead to a ton of problems, namely addiction and overall general misuse, which can complicate a claim tenfold.

Drug Manufacturers Looking for Answer to Addictive Side Effects

Faced with intensive scrutiny, drug manufacturers have been scrambling to come up with alternatives to lessen the side effects of these very strong pain relievers. Probably the most common new tactic being created are ways to “disable” the medication when crushed, so when the actual tablet is tampered with it will lessen the potency, thereby making any misuse less attractive to the drug abuser, which also should decrease the overall street demand for the drug.

In addition to Vicodin and OxyContin, which have lead the way in the newspaper headlines, insurance carriers started to see an increase in the prescription drug Opana, which generally has effects similar to those of OxyContin.

To refresh your memory, this certain classification of medication is used for treating severe breakthrough pain in acute injuries. Other medications that have stereotypically had a negative connotation within the insurance claim world include Valium, Xanax, Ambien, and to a lesser extent Ultram, Flexeril, Percocet, and the like.

Continue reading New Opioids to Reduce Abuse and Workers’ Comp Costs

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”).

California DIR Highlights New Laws Slated To Take Effect In 2012

seal of California Department of Labor with Capitol domeThe California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) highlights new laws that apply to California employers and take effect Jan. 1, 2012. The new laws are designed to provide protections for employees and detail requirements for new hires. Other new laws allow for employer savings in their workers’ compensation costs.

Starting on Jan. 1, 2012, California employers must provide additional information to new hires that are not exempt from overtime, are not public employees, or subject to certain collective bargaining agreements. Assembly Bill, (AB) 469 requires a written notice be provided at the time of hire that contains specified information about rate of pay, pay day designation, physical address of the employer’s main office and the name, address, and phone number of the employer’s workers’ compensation carrier.

A template of the written notice is available from the California Labor Commissioner at www.dir.ca.gov/dlse.Under the new requirements of AB 243, farm labor contractors are now required to include, in the itemized information on employee pay statements, the name and address of the legal entity (usually a grower) that secured the services of the farm labor contractor.

Payment rules for dispensing medical equipment and drugs, including compounded drugs, are prescribed by AB 378. This bill also reduces inappropriate financial incentives in order to lowers workers’ compensation costs by by prohibiting referral of a patient to a pharmacy in which the physician has financial interest.

AB 1168 lowers workers’ compensation costs by establishing a fee schedule for vocational experts. This will prohibit vocational experts from being paid fees in excess of what is allowed under the schedule.

SB 826 establishes a penalty schedule for addressing violations of workers’ compensation data reporting requirements by claims administrators.

“Hot” New App from OSHA!

graphic with iPhone and flames on words "Hot Apps" OSHA Releases Mobile App To Help Protect Workers From Heat-Related Illnesses

As part of continuing educational efforts by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration about the dangers of extreme heat, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today announced a free application for mobile devices that will enable workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites in order to prevent heat-related illnesses.

“Summer heat presents a serious issue that affects some of the most vulnerable workers in our country, and education is crucial to keeping them safe,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “Heat-related illnesses are preventable. This new app is just one way the Labor Department is getting that message out.”

The app, available in English and Spanish, combines heat index data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with the user’s location to determine necessary protective measures. Based on the risk level of the heat index, the app provides users with information about precautions they make take such as drinking fluids, taking rest breaks and adjusting work operations. Users also can review the signs and symptoms of heat stroke, heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses, and learn about first aid steps to take in an emergency. Information for supervisors is also available through the app on how to gradually build up the workload for new workers as well as how to train employees on heat illness signs and symptoms. Additionally, users can contact OSHA directly through the app.

The app is designed for devices using an Android platform, and versions for BlackBerry and iPhone users will be released shortly. To download it, visit http://go.usa.gov/KFE

More than 30 workers died from heat stroke in 2010. Thousands become ill from heat exhaustion and other heat illnesses every year. Some of the highest illness rates occur among construction workers, farmworkers, roofers, landscapers, baggage handlers and other air transportation workers.

Effective heat illness prevention requires simple planning. Employers are responsible for protecting workers by providing plenty of water, scheduling rest breaks in the shade or air-conditioned spaces, planning heavy work early in the day, preparing for medical emergencies, training workers about heat and other job hazards, taking steps to help workers – especially those who are new to working outdoors or who have been away from work for a period of time – acclimatize to the heat, and gradually increasing workloads or allowing more frequent breaks during the first week of an outdoor project.

Information for employers about using the heat index to calculate and address risks posed to workers also is available through OSHA’s new Web-based tool “Using the Heat Index: Employer Guidance,” which is accessible at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/heat_index/index.html. OSHA’s other educational and training tools about heat illnesses prevention, available in English and Spanish, can be found at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html .

“OSHA’s prevention message is clear: Water. Rest. Shade. These are three little words that make a big difference for outdoor workers during the hot summer months,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels.

CA DWC Goes the Extra Mile

California Deptartment of Workers' Compensation automobile
MPG = MedicalCare Per Gallon

California DWC Increased Mileage Rate For Medical Expenses

Oakland, CA (CompNewsNetwork) – The mileage rate for medical and medical-legal travel expenses increased and has been in effect since July 1, 2011. This rate must be paid for travel on or after July 1, 2011 regardless of the date of injury.

Labor Code section 4600, in conjunction with Government Code section 19820 and the Department of Personnel Administration regulations, establishes the rate payable for mileage reimbursement for medical and medical-legal expenses and ties it to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Cal/OSHA Continues Enforcement of Heat Illness Prevention Requirements

By California Department of Industrial Relations, Cal/OSHA             Published: Thursday, Jun. 30, 2011 – 5:00 pm
Summer heat safety patch
Wear it on your sleeve!

The Department of Industrial Relations’ (DIR) Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) continues to focus on heat illness prevention as temperatures again rise to double digits. Last week’s enforcement actions uncovered violations of the heat standard across the state, and resulted in the shutdown of an agricultural employer’s operations for failing to protect workers in high heat. The grower failed to provide shade and other measures for his workers in temperatures that registered 105 degrees before noon.

“The safety and health of California’s outdoor workers is vital and our inspectors are out making sure that safety regulations are followed,” said DIR Acting Director Christine Baker.  “Enforcement, while key, is only one tool we use to ensure compliance. We also partner with industry, community, and labor groups to educate employers and workers on steps needed to prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths.”

Cal/OSHA inspectors issued an Order to Prohibit Use (OPU) to Canoga Park-based owner Ho Ik Chang, dba Ty Farms working in Coachella, which resulted in the closure of their operation. A crew of four workers was observed in a chile pepper field working without access to shade. Inspectors learned that the crew had started their shift at 6 a.m. in heat that registered at 98 degrees at 8:30 a.m. and spiked to 105 degrees before noon.

“This is precisely why we have inspections taking place across the state, to ensure that all employers are protecting their workers with good heat illness prevention programs.  Adequate water, shade, rest breaks, training, and emergency procedures and training can mean the difference between life and death,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Ellen Widess. “California workers in agriculture, construction, landscaping, and other outdoor jobs are at risk of heat-related illness or death, but this risk is entirely preventable.  Issuing an OPU is the strongest tool that we have in cases of imminent hazard such as this one in Coachella, and we will continue to use OPU’s when we find such high risk to workers’ health and safety.” Continue reading

Distracted Driving is a Triple Threat for Employers

Everyone seems to be jumping on the distracted driving bandwagon, including OSHA.

So here are some links to good resources on what employers should be aware of and how to implement effective awareness and prevention programs.

This one bullet point from the ZoomSafer white paper on the topic ought to get your attention:

On-the-job crashes cost employers over $24,500 per crash, $150,000 per injury, and $3.6 million per fatality!

You can watch a webinar panel discussion of the topic here.

Click the chart below or this LINK to download a PDF version.

chart of total coast of distracted driving to employers