This Week in Comp, May 19 – 23

By David Wylie, Senior Technical Writer

By David Wylie, Senior Technical Writer

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

Safety

Petroperil: Hazards of drilling
There are 1,000 ways to die in the oilfield. Vehicle accidents are the leading causes, followed by struck by, caught in-between, falls, explosions and electrocutions…MORE

Oh God for one more breath
In 1902, a huge explosion ripped through Fraterville Coal Mine in Tennessee, killing all but three of the city’s adult men. The miners were not the only victims. The blast left 100 widows and 1,000 children without fathers. Read the letter one miner wrote to his wife during his final moments before succumbing to suffocation…MORE

Oilfield deaths spur safety agency to study fracking
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is asking oil and gas drillers to help assess the risks of exposure to chemicals used in fracking…MORE

Thinking about the unthinkable: workplace violence
For more than a decade, violence has been the second leading cause of workplace fatalities in the United States, yet few companies take active roles in identifying and addressing the risk of workplace violence. Why? Because most companies think the same thing that you are probably thinking right now: It just couldn’t happen hereMORE

Claims

NFL suits bring awareness
From the hippocampus to opioids, David DePaolo wonders how the recent rash of lawsuits brought by professional football players will affect workers’ compensation law…MORE

Experts cite exceptions to downward frequency trend
While widely reported data reveals an ongoing, nationwide decline in workers’ compensation claims frequency, risk managers experiencing a departure from the long-term trend shouldn’t feel alone. An aging workforce and rebounding economy are driving increased claims frequency for some employers…MORE

You will smile when you see the work comp savings of onsite cameras
Was your driver really at fault in that auto accident? Did failure to follow safety procedures cause that on-the-job injury? Onsite cameras can pull back the curtain on workplace accidents and save you money…MORE

Managing workers’ comp exposures as the workforce ages
An aging workforce could mean higher workers’ compensation costs. Businesses can control those costs by offering wellness programs, designing jobs with older workers’ limitations in mind, and reducing strain through engineering controls…MORE

Fraud

Is surveillance your only work comp fraud prevention technique?
Sound hiring practices and claim-handing techniques are critical to keeping fraud out of your workplace…MORE

Opioid epidemic

Prevalence of opioids in California workers’ comp holding at near-record highs
Despite efforts to curb the use and cost of opioids in California workers’ comp, new research finds the use of these drugs has remained at record levels since 2010. As a result, since 2005, payments for these painkillers have increased from about 4% to nearly 20% of all California workers’ compensation prescription dollars…MORE

ACA

Advancements in healthcare technology and what they mean to workers’ comp
There are several potential implications of the Affordable Care Act on the workers’ comp system. For example, the Act could push more Americans into the system, resulting in access to care issues. Relief could be in sight in the form of telemedicine, Google Glass, wearable monitoring devices and other technology…MORE

Nonsubscription

TX court puts agreement in fryer
Nonsubscribers who use arbitration agreements to control the risk of lawsuits filed by injured workers may not be covering all their bases. That is particularly true of agreements between nonsubscribers and minors…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

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This Week in Comp, May 12 – 16

By David Wylie, Senior Technical Writer

By David Wylie, Senior Technical Writer

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

Safety

OSHA update
OSHA advisory committees are studying strategies to address health hazards, construction and temporary workers; whistleblower committee re-charter…MORE

Denton could be first city in Texas to ban fracking
Fracking has led to major economic benefits but also to fears that chemicals used in the process could spread to water supplies and worsen air quality…MORE

Cited and fined! Employers discovering OSHA is serious about eliminating falls
Nearly one-third of all construction fatalities last year were related to falls. Failing to provide fall protection is one of the 10 most-frequently cited OSHA violations….MORE

First study unveiled to focus on occupation and obesity
Truckers, movers, police and firefighters are likeliest to be obese. Doctors, scientists and teachers are the healthiest. Those are the results of a first-of-its-type study the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries sponsored connecting occupation with obesity…MORE

Claims

Wellness reduces health risks 25%, cuts comp claims
A study by Pinnacol Assurance found that workplace wellness programs reduce employee health risks by 25 percent. The study also found that wellness program participants cut their smoking rates, as well as their cancer, depression and stress risks…MORE

Autopilot fear
From strict guidelines to sophisticated software, adjusters and their ability to judge each claim individually are being removed from the claims process. That trend doesn’t sit well with David DePaolo…MORE

State fund news

SAIF CEO is fired after three months
The board of directors for Oregon’s SAIF Corporation has fired John Plotkin on allegations of inappropriate comments he made to employees…MORE
Opioid epidemic

Opioid paradox: The drugs can cause pain
The condition is also called “paradoxical hyperalgesia” because a patient may experience more pain resulting from their opioid treatment rather than a decrease in pain. The phenomena can encourage dangerous dose escalation as doctors struggle to control a patient’s chronic pain…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

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

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

This Week in Comp, April 21 – 25

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

Molding teens into safe workers for life
Remember your first job? Were you nervous? Intimidated? Eager to make a good impression? Probably the last thing you wanted to do was ask your supervisor a “stupid” question. Unfortunately, millions of young workers may not always ask the questions they should about workplace safety.Texas Mutual’s Angela Gardner gives her tips for instilling good habits that will last teens a lifetime…MORE

Take advantage of free distracted driving resources
Before we close the books on Distracted Driving Awareness Month, take advantage of these free resources from the National Safety Council…MORE

As part of its Distracted Driving Awareness Month activities, the National Safety Council called on teens to produce videos that highlighted the dangers of dividing our attention behind the wheel. This 55-second video explains why we cannot safely talk on a cell phone and drive at the same time.

TRIA extension

TRIA: A real need, and the time Is now!
The bombings at last year’s Boston Marathon highlight that the U.S. still faces a very real threat of terrorist attacks. Workers’ compensation coverage is statutory and cannot exclude terrorism as a cause, so carriers in this market are responding to TRIA’s pending expiration by declining coverage to employers in certain geographic areas beyond the end of 2014…MORE

Legislative issues

TDI-DWC: Positive trends in TX workers’ comp system include lower costs for employers
A 27 percent decrease in workplace injuries since 2004, along with a 22 percent decrease in claims, is contributing to lower costs for employers, Commissioner of Workers’ Compensation Rod Bordelon said during recent invited testimony before the House Business & Industry Committee…MORE

OOOOOOOOklahoma, where reforms are causing so much pain
Oklahoma’s landmark bill SB1062 converts the state’s judicial comp system to an administrative one. But the Supreme Court has issued an opinion that the state must continue to operate the Workers’ Compensation Court until all open claims are settled. With more than 100,000 cases in the queue, that likely means operations will continue there for many years. Bob Wilson of WorkCompCentral.com speculates this is going to be a minor nightmare for people managing comp claims in Oklahoma…MORE

Workers’ comp reform bill passes first test
Colorado lawmakers are considering a bill that would expand from two to four the number of doctors that employers must let workers choose from for treatment of on-the-job injuries…MORE

Return-to-work

How do you value a return-to-work program?
The return on investment of brining an injured worker back to the team, even at 50 percent, far outweighs the benefits of letting them sit at home…MORE

Opioid epidemic

Reviewing California’s draft opioid guidelines
Joe Paduda of Managed Care Matters summarizes California’s new 320-page opioid guidelines. Joe notes that the guidelines discourage the use of opioids in minor injuries and encourage alternative therapy. He adds, however, that guidelines as to when to discontinue opioids are absolute in some places, but very flexible in others…MORE

Medical costs

Drugs, testing, and incentives
The California Workers’ Compensation Institute is preparing to release a report documenting that drug testing is one of the top cost drivers in the state’s workers’ compensation system. Treatment guidelines include drug testing as part and parcel of opioid prescription to monitor use. David DePaolo notes that the sad part of the story is that much of this testing is likely unnecessary if physicians followed guidelines…MORE

Fraud

Long way down
David DePaolo highlights workers’ comp fraud cases from the week. One case involved a police officer who claimed a work-related injury when he was, in fact, injured while trying out for another police department…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

This Week in Comp, April 14 – 18

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

Trains and cars: A true underdog story
The average train weighs 12 million pounds. Even in Texas, where everything’s bigger, the weight ratio of train to car is about 4,000-to-1. When the two collide, the result is similar to a car running over a soda can. Texas Mutual’s John Calvert offers these tips for staying on the safe side of the tracks…MORE

DOT launches distracted driving campaign
The Department of Transportation has launched a campaign to educate drivers about the hazards of texting behind the wheel. Free resources are available at distraction.gov…MORE

Industry pushing back against fertilizer plant safety requirements
The state fire marshal wants 46 facilities that store ammonium nitrate in Texas to make safety improvements following the deadly West fertilizer plant explosion last year. Improvements include installing sprinklers or retrofitting buildings to mitigate the potential for explosions…MORE

Return-to-work

Resume-writing as a return-to-work tool?
Bob Wilson of WorkersCompensation.com was skeptical when an insurance professional recently suggested resume-writing as a return-to-work tool. Bob was wrong, and he explains why in this installment of “From Bob’s Cluttered Desk”…MORE

Opioid epidemic

Maine leads push to limit use of painkillers
Officials of MaineCare, the state’s version of Medicaid, credit new rules for a 17 percent drop in how many patients took opioid painkillers in 2013, compared with 2012…MORE

Industry news

25 key slides on workers’ comp’s future
Workers aged 65 and over miss up to three times more days from work due to injury or illness than their younger counterparts. This short presentation by Insurance Thought Leadership highlights 25 other workers’ comp trends…MORE

Medical costs

Cost increases drive higher drug trend for workers’ comp
Significant increases in cost per prescription drove drug trend for workers’ compensation payers higher in 2013, according to research recently released by Express Scripts. Compounded medications used for injured workers saw the most significant increase, with per-user-per-year costs rising 126 percent from 2012…MORE 

Fraud

New York cop on workers’ comp gets buffalo wings clipped
The claimant admitted that his tax-free benefits gave him an incentive to feign injury and sit at home. What he didn’t know was that he was speaking with two FBI agents…MORE

Legislative issues

Insurance industry welcomes terrorism bill but not co-pay hike
The Senate has introduced a bill that extends the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) for seven years. Insurance industry lobbying groups expressed concern, however, that some provisions in the bill could boost insurer costs and shrink the market. If Congress does not pass a reauthorization bill by Dec. 31, 2014, TRIA will expire…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

This Week in Comp, April 7 – 11

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

CDC study highlights safety and health issues for working women
Levels of stress-related illness are nearly twice as high for women compared to men, according to a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The NIOSH Science Blog reviews the most common health and safety risks women face on the job…MORE

1 in 10 small businesses report workers under influence of alcohol, drugs
Small-business owners reported that alcohol, marijuana and prescription painkillers were the most common substances employees used, according to a study by Employers Holdings Inc…MORE

NIOSH follows workers as they age
Older workers tend to be experienced and productive. But chronic conditions can make them more susceptible to workplace injuries. NIOSH recently rolled out a Web page promoting healthy aging among America’s workforce…MORE

Wearable technologies: the next frontier in workplace safety
A North Carolina firefighter has developed an app that that displays incoming emergency dispatches, where incidents are, nearest fire hydrants, and even building plans. His work foreshadows a probable explosion in wearable technology solutions for the safety industry…MORE

OOIDA speaks out against electronic logging device proposal
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is encouraging truckers to comment on – and address safety issues related to – a recent proposal that would require truck and bus drivers to use electronic logging devices to track their compliance with hours-of-service regulations…MORE

New website helps workers ‘choose hand safety’
The Choose Hand Safety website features information on hand tools and gloves, types of injuries, preventive measures, and training. Resources include toolbox talks, handouts and ergonomics videos…MORE

The illusion of being invulnerable
No matter how many safety training courses emphasis how dangerous it may be to work with electricity, chemicals or cargo unless proper safety protocols are followed, there is always a percentage of employees who believe they aren’t vulnerable to such risks — until it’s too late…MORE

Opioid epidemic DWC commissioner testifies closed formulary helping reduce opioid use, cost
Opioid prescriptions are down 10 percent since Texas implemented its pharmacy closed formulary, according to DWC Commissioner Rob Bordelon. Bordelon testified this week before the Texas House Committee on Public Health that Texas’ closed formulary has also contributed to a 74 percent reduction in drugs with “N” status and an 82 percent drop in costs associated with those drugs…MORE

Washington man gets more than 2 years in jail for defrauding hospital to get painkillers
A Washington State man is accused of making 51 visits to more than two dozen emergency rooms and urgent-care clinics to get prescriptions for Vicodin, Percocet and other painkillers…MORE

Claim management UR Nation, Pt 2: A Tale of Two States Trying to Control High Medical Costs
Lisa Hannusch offers three keys to successful utilization review based on California’s journey…MORE

Legal

Oklahoma’s workers’ comp administrative redesign takes effect
The transition of Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation system from a court-based system to an administrative one became effective Feb. 1, 2014, a change that proponents believe will lower costs and help make the state more competitive in attracting businesses…MORE

Victoria man sues construction companies after malaria outbreak
A Victoria man is suing two construction companies after he said he contracted malaria while working for them in Africa about a year ago. One company carries workers’ compensation insurance. Under Texas law, employees cannot sue their employers over workplace injuries in most cases…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

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