Regulatory Roundup, July 21

Regulatory Roundup is a weekly compilation of employee wellness and safety news.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA releases more information on electronic submission ruling for injury data

Last month, OSHA published a notice of proposed rulemaking to extend the deadline for electronic submissions of Form 300A to December 1, 2017. Now the administration has announced that the Injury Tracking Application will be accessible to employers on August 1…MORE

New compliance guide available for silica standard

OSHA released a compliance guide for the respirable crystalline silica standard geared toward small entities in the general and maritime industries. The guide describes employer requirements in relation to the hazards associated with silica exposure. Enforcement of the new rule is scheduled to begin in June 2018…MORE

Applications are open for the Susan Harwood Training Grant

OSHA announced $10.5 million in funding for its Susan Harwood Training Grants Program, which is available to nonprofit organizations. Grants provide training programs on workplace safety hazards, including employees rights and employer responsibilities. Applications are being accepted until August 28…MORE

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

CDC awards $12 million to fight opioid abuse

The CDC announced an award of over $12 million to 23 states and Washington, D.C. in the fight against the opioid overdose epidemic. The funds will go toward prevention efforts and better tracking of opioid-related overdoses. CDC also expects to announce more funding later this summer…MORE

Federal Highway Administration

New report tracks highway construction cost inflation

The FHWA released its latest National Highway Construction Cost Index showing the rising cost of highway construction and maintenance over time. It’s the first revision since 2007 and provides important information to decision-makers in infrastructure. The latest data shows that highway construction costs are up by about 68 percent over the past 13 years…MORE

Studies, resources, trends, news

Study finds links between job type and vitamin D deficiency

A recent study analyzed people in the northern and southern hemispheres and found the highest vitamin D deficiencies in shift workers (80 percent) and indoor workers (77 percent). Only 48 percent of outdoor workers had a vitamin D deficiency. Results suggest that occupation is a major factor in vitamin D levels and regular screenings for those in at-risk groups could prevent possible negative health effects…MORE


This week in comp, December 22, 2016

This Week in Comp is Texas Mutual’s weekly digest of workers’ compensation news.

Regulatory Roundup, December 16, 2016

Regulatory Roundup is a weekly digest of workers’ compensation news from across the country.

Regulatory Roundup, December 9, 2016

Regulatory Roundup is Texas Mutual’s weekly digest of workers’ compensation news from across the country.

Regulatory Roundup, December 2, 2016

This week in comp is a weekly digest of workers’ compensation news from across the country.


Construction firm underbids competitors by cheating workers’ comp system
auto-insurance-fraudA New York construction firm allegedly altered workers’ compensation forms to make it appear as if it was exempt from workers’ compensation coverage. The scheme allowed the company to underbid the next-highest competitor on a project by about one-third. Companies that commit premium fraud gain an unfair advantage over honest competitors…MORE

Fraud by any other name
An Ohio man used aliases to continue working while collecting workers’ compensation benefits. Investigators calls this type of scam double-dipping…MORE


What you need to know about OSHA’s new electronic reporting rule
The retaliation and drug testing components of OSHA’s electronic injury reporting rule went into effect on Dec. 1, 2016. Texas Mutual’s blog explains what employers need to know about the new rule…MORE

Oklahoma airport shooting likely case of workplace revenge
violenceA man who gunned down a Southwest Airlines employee outside of Oklahoma City’s airport likely did so in retaliation for having lost his own job with the airline last year. The tragedy underscores the importance of recognizing and responding to the signs of workplace violence…MORE

Texas logs first case of locally-acquired Zika
A Brownsville resident became the first person to contract the Zika virus from an infected mosquito in Texas. Until now, all of the state’s 250-plus cases of Zika have involved travel to areas that have experienced local Zika transmissionMORE


IDC predicts health care ransomware attacks to double by 2018

The average data breach costs $665,000.

Health care is a soft target when it comes to cyberattacks because the industry hasn’t invested in security technology to the extent that other industries have. Additionally, the increase in internet of things technology results in the convergence of mobile, social and sensors. The result could be a doubling of ransomware attacks against health care institutions by 2018, according to IDC Futurescape…MORE


Free tool gives context to medical costs
The Workers’ Compensation Research Institute has rolled out a new tool that helps stakeholders understand increasing costs for treating injured workers. The tool details medical prices in 31 states, allowing stakeholders to compare pricing, see how policy choices affect pricing, and determine whether fluctuations are local or consistent with national trends… MORE



This week in comp, November 18, 2016

This week in comp is a weekly digest of workers’ compensation news.


OSHA issues final rule on walking/working surfaces, fall protection

OSHA estimates its new walking/working surfaces rule will prevent 29 fatalities and more than 5,842 lost-workday injuries each year.

OSHA estimates its new walking/working surfaces rule will prevent 29 fatalities and more than 5,842 lost-workday injuries each year.

In 1990, OSHA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking for its walking/working surfaces standard. This week, the agency issued the final version of the rule. The new rule goes into effect Jan. 17, 2017…MORE

What you need to know about OSHA’s electronic reporting rule
On Dec. 1, 2016, the anti-retaliation component of OSHA’s electronic reporting rule goes into effect. This week’s blog post explained what the rule means to employers…MORE

The proof is in the post
If posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels are any indication, the public recognizes the potential life-saving benefits of driver-assist technology. An analysis of 50,000 social media posts showed a 21 percent increase in posts about advanced driver assistance systems and vehicle safety technologies. The analysis also showed a 27 percent increase in positive conversations since the launch of the MyCarDoesWhat? website…MORE

West Texas companies earn Texas Mutual’s top safety honor

Click on the image for a full-sized photo of our West Texas safety award winners.

Approximately 200 of Texas Mutual’s 65,000 policyholders earned the company’s top safety award in 2016.

The downturn in the oil and gas market has forced companies to make tough budget decisions. For the 22 West Texas winners of Texas Mutual’s annual safety award, preventing workplace accidents is a priority. Texas Mutual recognized these companies at a special event this week…MORE


Monster classification mistake puts puppeteers on brink of bankruptcy
A New York puppet manufacturer’s workers’ comp premium skyrocketed from $3,500 to $50,000, thanks to a classification code error. The puppeteers, who deal mostly in fur and fuzz, were stamped rubber goods manufacturers and put in the same risky category as tire manufacturers, which melt molten rubber…MORE


Woman who stole from mother guilty of workers’ comp fraud
A woman who stole her disabled mother’s workers’ compensation benefits to support her drug habit must pay $26,170 in restitution to her mother and the insurance carrier…MORE

Texas pharmacist pleads guilty to fraud

A Texas pharmacist faces up to five years in federal prison for his role in a fraud scheme.

A Texas pharmacist faces up to five years in federal prison for his role in a fraud scheme.

A Houston pharmacy owner pleaded guilty in a health care fraud and kickback scheme. The pharmacist admitted to paying about $5.3 million in illegal kickbacks to a Killeen chiropractor in exchange for patient referrals for prescriptions and influencing physicians to prescribe compounded medications supplied by her pharmacy…MORE


NCCI releases latest report on impacts of ACA on workers’ compensation
A reduction in the U.S. obesity rate from 35 to 25 percent, in accordance with the goals of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) wellness initiative, could reduce workers’ compensation medical costs by 3 to 4 percent, according to a study by the National Council on Compensation Insurance. The study also showed the ACA has not discernibly infringed on workers’ compensation claimants’ access to primary care…MORE

This week in comp, November 11, 2016

This week in comp is a weekly digest of workers’ compensation news from around the country.


Injuries requiring days away from work drop

Carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis accounted for the fewest cases involving days away from work.

Carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis accounted for the fewest cases involving days away from work.

The number of Texas workplace injuries involving days away from work fell from 52,970 in 2014 to 46,440 in 2015, according to a TDI report. Injured employees in the information industry recorded the highest number of median days away from work at 22…MORE

Get in rhythm with the time change
Last Sunday, Americans set their clocks back one hour in an annual ritual known as fall back. The extra hour of sleep that night was a nice perk, but the time change also increases the risk of a pervasive, chronic safety issue: traffic accidents…MORE

4 reasons employers should have a driver safety program
Traffic accidents costs employers $60 billion and three million work days each year. Considering the human and monetary costs of accidents, employers cannot afford to pass on the National Safety Council’s free driver safety program resources…MORE


Ready your workplace for the flu
The flu costs employers 111 million work days and $7 billion in sick days and lost productivity each year. OSHA offers free resources to help employers reduce the flu’s impact on their employees and their bottom line…MORE


A workplace wellness program can help reduce heart disease and other chronic health issues.

Wake-up call leads CEO to American Heart Association
Sometimes, a major health issue hits close to home and motivates us to make changes in our lives. That’s what happened to Texas Mutual President and CEO Rich Gergasko when he found out a co-worker died from a heart attack…MORE


Injured TX employees have ready access to medical care, study shows
In 2015, 84 percent of injured workers in Texas received initial care in seven days or less, compared to 76 percent in 2000. That is significant because studies show injured workers who aren’t treated within seven days accumulate an average of 40 percent more in medical costs over the first six months of an injury, according to a new study by the Workers’ Compensation Research and Evaluation Group…MORE

Social media: Good and bad for insurers, claims
Sometimes, claimants have a positive experience with an insurer and tell their friends about it on Facebook. That’s valuable word-of-mouth advertising money can’t buy. But social media can also hinder claim and lawsuit settlements…MORE


Workers’ compensation rates in Texas among nation’s lowest
Thanks largely to lower injury rates, better return-to-work outcomes and reduced medical costs, Texas employers pay the 10th-lowest workers’ compensation rates in the country, according to a study by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services…MORE

NCCI releases 2016 workers’ comp issues report

Agents can bookmark Texas Mutual's website for the latest NCCI developments.

Agents can bookmark Texas Mutual’s website for the latest NCCI developments.

For every $100 of medical services paid on claims older than 10 years, approximately $45 to $50 will be for prescription drugs, according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance Workers’ Compensation 2016 Issues Report…MORE


New York rolls out administrative option for curbing opioid epidemic
In New York, payers can now request a hearing before the Workers’ Compensation Board to determine whether continuing opioid usage is necessary or weaning from opioids is recommended…MORE


Employer gets six months in jail for fraud scheme
An Ohio court sentenced the owner of a tree-trimming service to six months in jail for bilking his workers’ comp insurer out of $22,000 in premiums…MORE

This week in comp, November 4, 2016

This week in comp is a weekly digest of workers’ compensation news from around the country.


OSHA plans surge of inspections to reduce amputations in Texas, neighboring states

Employers can follow a few simple tips to prepare for an OSHA inspection.

Employers can follow 10 tips to prepare for an OSHA inspection.

OSHA will leverage targeted enforcement, including a surge of on-site inspections, in its efforts to reduce amputations among manufacturing workers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas…MORE

Texas leads nation in vehicle/animal collisions
Texas has twice as many motorists killed in collisions between vehicles and animals than any other state, the Insurance Council of Texas reports. With deer hunting season kicking off this weekend, drivers should review these safety tips…MORE

Opioid epidemic

Opioids and workers’ compensation: Why employers should care
Employees who abuse opioids risk their lives and compromise their co-workers’ safety. They could also contribute to increased workers’ compensation premiums. Studies cited in a Lockton Companies whitepaper have shown that when injured workers are prescribed opioids, their total claim costs can be four to eight times those of similar claims where no opioids were prescribed…MORE

More children are being poisoned by prescription opioids
The rate of children hospitalized for opioid poisoning increased 165 percent from 1997 to 2012, according to a new study. The data also showed the rate of hospitalized toddlers more than doubled. It’s likely that these very young patients take the drugs because they think they are candy or a treat…MORE


Dallas-area doctor faces $1.2M fine in fraud scheme
Government officials have obtained a more than $1.2 million judgment against Dr. Tariq Mahmood of Cedar Hill. Mahmood is serving an 11-year sentence for submitting bogus Medicare and Medicaid claims…MORE


NCCI updates

Agents can bookmark Texas Mutual's website for the latest NCCI developments.

Texas Mutual encourages agents to bookmark our website for the latest NCCI developments.

TDI has posted notice of filing Item 02-TX-2016 by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). NCCI’s filing proposes to establish eligibility requirements for wrap-up construction project policies. TDI also posted an order approving NCCI filing Item B-1431 to eliminate some Texas classifications with low credibility (classification codes that, due to low premium volume, are too small to develop meaningful data for ratemaking purposes) and reassign them to other national or Texas classifications.


Workers’ comp drug spend dips
Workers’ compensation payers’ pharmacy spend dipped 8.7 percent in 2015, according to a CompPharma survey. Payers credited tighter clinical management, better integration with their pharmacy benefit managers, and prescriber interventions for the decrease. Opioids remained the number-one payer concern…MORE

The best of the rest

What’s really happening in workers’ comp?
Injury rates are plummeting, insurance premium rates are flat or dropping, and medical costs are down, reports Joe Paduda of Managed Care Matters. Paduda adds that Texas and Louisiana experienced among the largest rate drops in the country…MORE

This week in comp, October 28, 2016

This week in comp is a weekly roundup of workers’ compensation news from across the country.


Hazard communication: SDS and secondary label compliance following the GHS deadline

OSHA requires employers to train their employees on the revised hazard communication standard.

OSHA requires employers to train their employees on the revised hazard communication standard.

Manufacturers and distributors are working to distribute GHS-compliant safety data sheets (SDS). In the meantime, employers should keep detailed documentation of their efforts to get SDS’ for their products…MORE

Age is more than a number
With more Americans putting off retirement, employers can take steps to help older workers remain healthy and productive…MORE


Why are work comp medical costs decreasing?
About 90 percent of the employed population has health insurance, a 10 percent increase over 2010. That means workers’ comp doesn’t have to pick up the tab for comorbidities and other non-work related conditions, which has led to a decrease in work comp medical costs…MORE

Claims has to up its game to attract new hires
With 25 percent of the claims workforce set to retire in the next few years, insurers are looking for new talent. In-house training and college partnerships are key strategies in filling the gap…MORE

Opioid epidemic

SAMHSA releases app to help treat opioid abusers

There are not enough doctors providing medically assisted treatment for opioid abuse, according to SAMSHA.

In 2015, nearly 2.4 million Americans had an opioid abuse disorder, according to SAMHSA.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has released a smartphone app that provides essential resources and information to doctors interested in using medication-assisted treatment therapies to treat patients with a prescription opioid abuse disorder…MORE


DWC fraud unit extends its reach
The new in-house fraud unit at the Division of Workers’ Compensation has opened more than 40 investigations and hired additional investigators to extend its reach. The unit exclusively focuses on investigating workers’ comp fraud in Texas…MORE

Racketeering charges detail scam to defraud workers’ comp fund
Prosecutors say between 2008 and 2014, a chain of medical clinics defrauded Ohio’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation by billing for procedures that were never done and inflating the percentage of disability for injured workers, making them eligible for higher payments from the state…MORE

Deputy nabbed in alleged workers’ comp fraud: Heavy weights, squats, burpees?
A California deputy tripped over a fire hose and claimed he injured his back, left shoulder and left side of his neck during a boat rescue. Despite claiming he was unable to lift heavy objects, do squats or run, the deputy was seen doing box jumps, burpees, squats and other exercises, prosecutors allege…MORE

Cyber security

Cyber-attacks a ‘wake-up call’ for insurers and public

Hackers used millions of Internet of Things devices to launch a major cyber-attack last week.

Hackers used millions of Internet of Things devices to launch a major cyber-attack last week.

Last week, hackers attacked a company that facilitates the loading of web pages, shutting down Twitter, Amazon and other popular sites. A cyber security expert predicts that as individuals and businesses become more comfortable with internet-based and cloud-based storage, we make ourselves more vulnerable to future attacks…MORE

The best of the rest

Industry needs to address gaps in workers’ compensation, AMCOMP panelists say
Legal disparity from state-to-state and the lack of a common compliance standard has led to an increase in litigation and a lack of clarity around which workers’ compensation laws are considered constitutional, according to a panel discussion during the American Society of Workers’ Compensation Professionals fall meeting…




This week in comp, October 21, 2016

This week in comp is a weekly digest of workers’ compensation news from around the country.


OSHA delays anti-retaliation component of electronic reporting rule
OSHA has delayed enforcement of the anti-retaliation component of its new electronic injury and illness reporting rule until Dec. 1, 2016. The component was schedule to go into effect November 10…MORE

Fall protection again tops list of most frequently cited OSHA standards

OSHA requires staffing agencies and host employers to share responsibility for keeping temporary workers safe.

Texas Mutual encourages employers to follow these 10 tips to survive an OSHA audit.

Fall protection tops the 2016 list of most frequently cited OSHA standards, followed by hazard communication and scaffolds. OSHA recommends employers who want to improve workplace safety use the list as a starting point…MORE

Does your medication affect your driving?
Few would argue that driving under the influence of alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and other street drugs is dangerous. But did you know over-the-counter and prescription drugs can also affect your ability to drive safely? The AAA Foundation launched a website that teaches you how your medications might affect you and your driving…MORE

7 common workplace violence prevention mistakes
Workplace violence policies should be written at an 8th grade level to accommodate all workers. Violence prevention training should be interactive, teaching employees to recognize threats and respond appropriately, according to the CEO of Violence Free…MORE


California, New Jersey register highest workers’ comp rates
Workers’ comp rates in California and New Jersey are 188 and 158 percent above the national median, respectively. North Dakota registers the lowest rates at 48 percent below the median, according to an Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services report…MORE


Your RX for health care fraud

Doctors, patients, employers and insurance carriers are among the stakeholders who can commit health care fraud.

Doctors, patients, employers and insurance carriers are among the stakeholders who can commit health care fraud.

The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud estimates health care fraud steals tens of billions across all lines of insurance annually. Employers can protect their business from fraud by following a few simple tips…MORE

Ten Texans added as defendants in
$100 million compounding drug scheme
A superseding indictment alleges that from approximately May 2014 to mid-February 2016, 12 defendants conspired to run a scheme to defraud TRICARE in connection with the prescription of compounded pain and scar creams. The scheme involved kickbacks to TRICARE beneficiaries, prescribing physicians and marketers by the owners of compounding pharmacies…MORE


New Texas ‘two-step’ program aims to simplify workers’ comp disputes
Under a new Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation program, hearing officers can decide the most far-reaching disputed claim issues first, clearing the way for secondary issues to be resolved sooner. Hearing officers will only use the two-step approach if both parties agree…MORE

Cyber security

Cyber claims continue to be costly

The average data breach costs $665,000.

The average claim payout for a data breach is $357,000, and insiders are involved in 30 percent of cases.

The average data breach claim for a large company is almost $6 million, according to a new study. While large companies continue to be targeted, the majority of claims are for organizations with less than $2 billion in revenue…MORE

Opioid epidemic

DEA cuts opioid production 25 percent
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has reduced by 25 percent the amount of almost every Schedule II opiate and opioid medication that may be manufactured in the United States in 2017. The DEA sets manufacturing quotas to ensure adequate supply for legitimate medical purposes while limiting the amount available for diversion. A recent study found that 6.5 million Americans used controlled substances for non-medical purposes during the past month…MORE

A look inside the workers’ comp market’s opioid problem
Opioids are costly and addictive, and research suggests they could exacerbate pain. Alternative therapies, such as occupational therapy, physical therapy and nerve blockers can be safer and more effective from a cost and treatment perspective…MORE




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