This Week in Comp, May 5 – 9

By David Wylie, Editorial Coordinator

By David Wylie, Editorial Coordinator

This Week in Comp provides an overview of workers’ compensation news from across the country.

Safety

New funding allows crackdown on texting while driving in North Dakota
Law enforcement officials are using part of the money to put plainclothes officers in unmarked cruisers to catch motorists who text and drive…MORE

Texas Mutual offers solutions to 4 common safety issues in the oil and gas industry
Silica exposure, transportation incidents, short-service employees and management commitment are common safety issues in the oil and gas industry. Texas Mutual’s website includes simple tips for overcoming these challenges…MORE

OSHA renews partnership with AGC El Paso Chapter
The strategic partnership’s goal is to reduce injuries, illnesses, and fatalities by focusing on the four most common hazards in construction: falls, struck-by, caught-in-between and electrocution hazards…MORE

North Dakota tries to stem oil region traffic deaths
Traffic fatalities in North Dakota’s drilling regions keep climbing while the rest of the state’s roads are getting safer. Population surges and roads that need repair are driving the increase…MORE

TRIA’s pending expiration

The impact on workers’ compensation of allowing TRIA to expire
If Congress allows TRIA to expire, insurers could choose not to provide workers’ comp coverage to employers who present a high geographic concentration of potential losses. Businesses and taxpayers would largely finance losses from a catastrophic terror attack…MORE

Claims

Obesity as a disability
A federal district court ruled in April 2014 that obesity itself may be a disability. In workers’ comp claims, however, disability could be considered a pre-existing condition…MORE

Are you about to hire your next workers’ comp claim?
Too often, bad hiring decisions are at least partially to blame for workers’ comp claims. Of course, once the injury occurs, it is too late to change the decision. If you ask the right questions during the interview process, you can help ensure you do not hire your next costly workers’ comp claim…MORE

Industry trends

NCCI offers “balanced” outlook for workers’ compensation industry
A consistently improving combined ratio, third consecutive year of premium growth, and declining claim frequency are positive trends for the workers’ compensation industry, according to the NCCI’s annual State of the Line report. The report also notes industry challenges, including slow employment growth in manufacturing and construction, as well as the pending TRIA expiration…MORE

10 challenges ahead for workers’ compensation
Wage stagnation, opioid abuse and an aging workforce are among the challenges facing the workers’ compensation industry…MORE

Why workers’ comp claims will continue to trend downward
Workers’ comp claims have declined 2 to 3 percent per year for the past decade. A decrease in manufacturing jobs and increased focus on workplace safety are among the reasons the decline is likely to continue…MORE

Opioid epidemic

The dose makes the poison
Phil Walls, RPh, Chief Clinical and Compliance Officer for myMatrixx, wonders if the 100 daily opioid-related deaths in America are more accurately described as poisonings rather than overdoses. Overdose, except in the case of intentional suicide, implies an accident, explains Walls. Poisoning implies an intentional action…MORE

WCRI study shows little reduction in longer-term opioid use in most states
The study examined the prevalence of longer-term use of opioids in 25 states and how often the services recommended by medical treatment guidelines were used for monitoring and managing chronic opioid therapy…MORE

About the author
David Wylie is the senior technical writer at Texas Mutual Insurance Company. He works closely with Texas Mutual’s safety professionals to teach employers and their employees how to prevent workplace accidents and their associated costs. David holds the OSHA 10-hour general safety certification and a degree in journalism from Southwest Texas State University.

Links to and from this blog do not reflect any affiliation between Texas Mutual Insurance Company and third parties, and are not an endorsement by Texas Mutual Insurance Company of the linked sites (or their owners or operators) or of any content located there. Texas Mutual Insurance Company does not vouch for the availability or accuracy of any information contained on linked sites. Read more of this post

Advertisements

Got a Workers’ Comp Dispute? There’s a Process for That

By David Wylie, Editorial Coordinator

By David Wylie, Editorial Coordinator

As a blogger covering a topic that is admittedly not all that dynamic, I constantly scan industry publications for inspiration. I’m looking for hot-button issues, revolutionary studies or, at the very least, someone with something interesting to say. I gotta admit my heart skipped a beat – maybe half a beat – when I saw this headline: “How Does the Workers’ Compensation Act Protect You?”

With 13 years’ experience at the state’s leading provider of workers’ compensation, I understand the benefits of coverage. I know that workers’ comp protects employers from lawsuits filed by injured workers. And you don’t have to convince me that the lifetime income benefits offered through the system are employees’ best protection from the consequences of on-the-job accidents. I figured, “This author gets it, too.” And he did…until he suggested injured workers might want an attorney on their side to deal with their insurance company.

I would never argue that litigation has absolutely no place in workers’ compensation. Sadly, it is occasionally the only way to ensure all parties are treated fairly. But it should be a last resort, not the status quo, as it was in Texas more than 20 years ago.

In the late 1980s, our workers’ compensation system was broken. Rates were skyrocketing, carriers were abandoning the state, and employers were left holding the bag. A high percentage of claim disputes were resolved in court, and attorneys were involved in nearly 50 percent of all but the smallest claims.

With our system in crisis mode, the Legislature stepped in and passed Senate Bill 1. Among the bill’s many provisions was the creation of an administrative process for resolving disputes. The process brings injured workers, insurance carriers and employers together with the goal of resolving disputes outside the courts.

The next major overhaul of the Texas workers’ compensation system happened in 2005, when the Legislature passed House Bill 7. The bill mandated the creation of the Office of Injured Employee Counsel (OIEC) and charged it with advocating for injured workers. OIEC provides free ombudsmen to assist injured workers through the administrative dispute process.

If you are an injured worker in Texas, you’re not alone. Along with OIEC’s assistance, your insurance carrier is there to soften the impact of medical bills and lost wages. Your doctor is there to help you get well and back on the job. And the State of Texas is there to ensure you, your employer and your insurance carrier are treated fairly throughout the process.

In our next post, Grace Fogle of our special claim services team will explain the first step in the dispute resolution process: the benefit review conference.

This Week in Comp, April 28 – May 1

By David Wylie, Editorial Coordinator

By David Wylie, Editorial Coordinator

This Week in Comp provides an overview of workers’ compensation news from across the country.

Safety

Oil field deaths rose sharply from 2008 to 2012
Oil field deaths reached 545 during America’s drilling and fracking frenzy from 2008 to 2012, with Texas’ 216 reported fatalities leading the nation…MORE

OSHA signs two alliances in North Texas
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration signed two alliance agreements with the Regional Hispanic Contractors Association and the Workers Defense Project in Dallas. The purpose of each alliance is to develop compliance assistance tools and resources, and educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities…MORE

Fed to require speed limiters on trucks 
Large trucks traveling on roads with speed limits of 55 mph or higher are involved in 73 percent of traffic fatalities. To improve safety, the Department of Transportation (DOT) is set to mandate the use of speed limiters – also known as Electronic Control Modules (ECM)…MORE

Affordable Care Act

Dispensing with the politics: ACA’s impact on workers’ comp
Provider shortages, access to care limitations and cost shifting are potential impacts of the ACA on workers’ compensation, according to Jeanette Ward, senior vice president of claims at Texas Mutual…MORE

Opioid epidemic

An opioid call to arms
The debate over Zohydro ER, an opioid medication recently approved by the FDA, wages on. Zogenix, which manufactures Zohydro, filed a lawsuit arguing that Massachusetts restrictions on its medication are “draconian” and “unjustified”…MORE

Study shows lab-based urine drug monitoring, interventions improve outcomes
The study showed a decrease in all measures of utilization, driven primarily by opioids (a 32 percent decrease) and benzodiazepines (a 51 percent decrease), as well as a 26 percent reduction in total utilization of all medications, regardless of drug class…MORE

Cost control

Abusive practices in drug testing
One machine, one cup, three billing opportunities. Joe Paduda reviews common drug-testing scams executed by physicians and drug-testing companies…MORE

How to turn workers’ comp into an advantage
What an employer does before an injury happens, when an injury happens and after an injury happens can affect the cost of the claim…MORE

Workplace wellness programs greatly decrease risk factors
Wellness programs can decrease health risks of workers by 25 percent or more, according to a new study to be presented Wednesday by Colorado’s largest workers’ compensation insurer…MORE

Obesity and claims costs
The workers’ compensation session agenda at this week’s RIMS 2014 reminded Bob Wilson that obesity is a weighty problem in our industry. Obese workers file twice the number of workers’ comp claims as their non-obese counterparts, and their medical costs average 7 times higher. Their missed days from work injury are 13 times higher, so indemnity costs are also significantly affected…MORE

About the author
David Wylie is the editorial coordinator at Texas Mutual Insurance Company. He works closely with Texas Mutual’s safety professionals to teach employers and their employees how to prevent workplace accidents and their associated costs. David holds the OSHA 10-hour general safety certification and a degree in journalism from Southwest Texas State University.

Links to and from this blog do not reflect any affiliation between Texas Mutual Insurance Company and third parties, and are not an endorsement by Texas Mutual Insurance Company of the linked sites (or their owners or operators) or of any content located there. Texas Mutual Insurance Company does not vouch for the availability or accuracy of any information contained on linked sites. Read more of this post

%d bloggers like this: