Regulatory Roundup, July 8, 2016

Regulatory Roundup is a weekly digest of wellness, safety and other workers’ compensation news.

Safety

Employers grapple with OSHA’s stance on blanket post-injury drug testing
In its improved injury tracking rule, OSHA suggests blanket post-injury drug-testing policies deter proper reporting of injuries to the agency. Many employers plan to respond to the new rule by eliminating post-accident testing entirely, but OSHA stresses that is not the rule’s intent…MORE

OSHA to increase maximum penalties by 78 percent
IncreaseEffective Aug. 1, 2016, OSHA will increase the maximum penalty for serious violations from $7,000 to $12,471. The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations will increase from $70,000 to $124,709. The increase reflects inflation since OSHA last increased fines in 1990…MORE

BLS data sheds light on injury, illness trends
During most times of the day or night, overexertion involving outside sources is the most common cause of workplace injuries or illnesses for which people miss work to recuperate, according to new BLS data. Between 4:01 a.m. and 8 a.m., falls to the same level are a leading cause of workplace injuries or illnesses…MORE

Texas strengthens Zika efforts as threat persists
Texas health officials don’t expect widespread Zika transmission this summer, but they want to be ready just in case. This week, the DSHS hosted a Zika summit in McAllen. Health and local leaders participated in two tabletop exercises, walking through how they would handle the first confirmed local Zika transmission, as well as sustained transmission. Visit the DSHS website for the latest information on Zika…MORE

Laws, regulations

NM Supreme Court rules ag workers entitled to workers’ comp protection
legislationThe New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that a nearly 100-year-old provision in state law that allows agricultural employers to opt out of the workers’ compensation system is unconstitutional. The provision allowed employers with more than three employees to opt out of coverage for farm and ranch laborers but not other agricultural workers…MORE

NCCI releases quarterly economics briefing
Payroll increased for most states and industry groups last year, but some states experienced declines, particularly in manufacturing and contracting, according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance Quarterly Economics Briefing. The briefing examines the state of the economy and the implications for workers’ compensation insurance…MORE

Fraud

Investigators foil 15-year, $429K workers’ comp fraud scheme
Handcuff FraudA New York woman who fraudulently collected $429,000 in workers’ compensation benefits between 2001 and 2016 is facing 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The woman claimed an on-the-job injury rendered her housebound. Video surveillance showed her raking leaves, mowing the lawn, carrying large pails of yard waste and bending over repeatedly…MORE

Claims

Workers’ comp disability guidelines withdrawn from guidelines.gov
The Work Loss Data Institute (WLDI) has withdrawn its Official Disability Guidelines from the National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC). The WLDI said the NGC review team found it too difficult to keep up with continuous updates to a large number of topics and recommendations to the ODG…MORE

New rules ease restrictions on doctors who treat opioid addiction
Narcotics with Prescription Warning LabelThe Health and Human Services department issued new rules that increase the number of opioid-addicted patients doctors can treat with buprenorphine, a medication that eases withdrawal symptoms, from 100 to 275 per year…MORE

Maine delivers a quiet blow in battle against opioid epidemic
States across the Northeast recently made noise by adopting 7-day initial opioid script laws. A measure taken by Maine isn’t making headlines, but it might prove far more significant in the battle against opioid abuse. Effective Jan. 1, 2017, doctors cannot prescribe any combination of opioid medication in an aggregate amount in excess of 100 morphine milligram equivalents of opioid medication per day…MORE

State fund news

Texas Mutual thinks outside the box to save lives
Imagine experiencing four of the construction industry’s deadliest hazards and living to tell about it. Texas Mutual recently rolled out a virtual reality app, aptly named Safety in a Box, that empowers users to learn lifesaving lessons without putting themselves in harm’s way…MORE

SFM Mutual Insurance acquires Minnesota’s Barrier Free Access
State Fund Minnesota has acquired Barrier Free Access, a Byron, Minn.-based provider of safe patient handling products, design consultation and training to medical facilities across the Upper Midwest…MORE

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