Focus on Domestic Violence, Bullying in Canadian Workplaces

When it comes to being a good employee, focus is a big part of the picture. If you’re not focused at work, it can lead to mistakes, some of which can be workplace injuries.

 

Domestic violence and bullying in the workplace cost businesses money every year in lost productivity (through absenteeism, tardiness, and inability to perform duties) and compromises the safety of the organization and its workers.

 

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) recently released two e-courses that focus on violence related topics, domestic violence and bullying, to help people understand the impact these forms of violence can have on the workplace, and how risks can be mitigated:

 

Domestic Violence in the Workplace: Although domestic violence may not be recognized by some as a workplace hazard, it can interfere with the victim at work and impact a workplace. This e-course will help participants understand the effects of domestic violence on the organization and its workers, and how to recognize the signs and symptoms of domestic violence. The course will also identify the roles of the employer, supervisors and employees in supporting victims, and preventing related workplace violence.

 

Bullying in the Workplace: Bullying is becoming increasingly recognized as a serious workplace problem; it can cause undue stress, anxiety, and low morale among workers. This e-course will help participants recognize the signs of bullying, understand the effects of bullying on the organization and its workers, and mitigate the risks.

 

Information about all of CCOHS’ e-courses can be found on the CCOHS website.

 

Quick facts

  • The e-courses Domestic Violence in the Workplace and Bullying in the Workplace were developed in collaboration with the Public Services Health and Safety Association.
  • CCOHS courses are unique in that they are reviewed by expert representatives from labor, employers and government to ensure the content and approach are unbiased and credible.
  • All CCOHS e-learning courses are available in English and French.

 

 

 

Author Kori Shafer-Stack, Editor, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in post-injury response procedures and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: kstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

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Utah Man Pleads Guilty in Montana Comp Fraud Case

Workers compensation fraud doesn’t always know state boundaries.

 

Recently, Utah resident Benjie Leroy Christensen plead guilty in Lewis & Clark County District Court to felony theft for receiving Montana workers comp permanent disability payments for six years while he was actually performing construction work.

 

In September 2014, Christensen, 52, was accused of defrauding the Montana State Fund for $97,352.71 in wage loss, medical, and prescription benefits he received from 2008 to 2014. 

 

Christensen pleaded guilty to the felony theft charge in District Court in Helena and was sentenced in May to 10 years at the Montana Department of Corrections; all were suspended and Christensen will remain on supervision.  He was also ordered to pay restitution to Montana State Fund in the amount of $97,352.71.

 

Assistant Attorney General Mary Cochenour alleged Christensen lied about being permanently disabled after sustaining injuries while working at Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge in 2000 and again in 2001.  Christensen was found to be permanently disabled by a physician in January 2004, and began receiving permanent total disability payments from Montana State Fund in April 2004.

 

Constructing a Case for Workers Comp Fraud

 

Seven years later, a registered nurse was sent to Christensen’s home in Vernal, Utah to evaluate his condition because Christensen and his doctor had failed to communicate with Montana State Fund.  The nurse noted Christensen was in good physical condition, and that there were several construction tools on his front porch. 

 

In 2012, Christensen told a Salt Lake City physician during another medical evaluation that he couldn’t lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk and that his wife took care of him because he couldn’t be left alone.

 

However, investigators from the Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation and Montana State Fund learned after observing surveillance video footage in 2013 that Christensen was actively engaged in construction activities, including walking up and down a ladder several times, lifting pieces of lumber, stacking lumber, and throwing lumber. 

 

Last year, the State’s investigators visited homeowners who had hired Christensen for construction work, and learned that he owned a business named B & C Construction, which he advertised on Facebook. 

 

Investigators also learned that Christensen had been paid more than $202,000 for work he had completed as a subcontractor in Utah from 2010-13.   The State’s investigators also discovered that Christensen had applied for four other work comp claims in Utah between 1987 and 1989.

 

 

 

Author Kori Shafer-Stack, Editor, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in post-injury response procedures and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: kstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

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Ontario (Canada) Officials Zero-in on Protecting New and Young Workers

New and young workers oftentimes come without experience, meaning a concentrated effort on workplace safety is all the more important.

 
For the eighth year in a row, Ontario (Canada) will focus on the safety of new and young workers this summer during a four-month enforcement blitz across the province.

 
As of May 1, Ministry of Labour inspectors were planning to check that employers are complying with Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.

 

This will include checking that new and young workers:

 
• Are properly informed, instructed and supervised on the job
• Meet minimum age requirements
• Follow required safety measures and procedures to prevent injuries

 
Inspectors will focus on industrial sector workplaces like tourism, hospitality and recreation where many new and young workers are employed.

 

Protecting young people on the job is part of the Ontario government’s continued commitment to preventing workplace injuries through its Safe At Work Ontario enforcement initiative.

 

“Workplace incidents continue to kill and critically injure new and young workers, and that is simply unacceptable. Our sons and daughters deserve to come home safe after a hard day’s work. That’s why we’re committed to eliminating workplace tragedies by ensuring all workers know their rights and responsibilities and employers across the province are following the rules,” stated Kevin Flynn, minister of Labour

 

According to the numbers:

 

• Between 2009 and 2013, 30 young workers aged 15 to 24 died in work-related incidents and more than 30,000 received injuries resulting in lost time at work.

 

• Many young workers who received lost-time injuries were employed as labourers in

 

 

 

Author Kori Shafer-Stack, Editor, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in post-injury response procedures and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: kstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

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processing, manufacturing and utilities as well as food counter attendants and kitchen helpers.

Use Your Imagination When Looking For Recovery / Subrogation

Several adjusters are quick to rule out subrogation during the investigation phase of their files, especially when the issue or injury is due to “Human error” and not necessarily due to a third party.

 

I see this as incentive to get creative.  Taking a step back to see what exactly happened and how this worker became injured is the fun part of solving the claims subrogation mystery. 

 

 

The Case of The Hidden $900,000 Recovery

 

For example, I read about a case where a worker had a large square container on a crane.  His supervisor told him to ride on top of the container to get to a higher level instead of going out to get the lift truck.  For whatever reason, this worker agreed.  The container was clearly marked that riding on it is dangerous and can result in injury.  The crane was marked with numerous labels saying not to lift people on items, and so on.  Plus, the supervisor told the employee to ride on the container. 

 

Based on all of that, it should seem clear that there is no subro on this case.  This worker obeyed a command from his direct supervisor.  The supervisor was the one that made the error in judgement.  This worker riding the container fell off of it and sustained a traumatic brain injury.

 

Most carriers would give up at this point, as it is clear the subro case is probably not existent.  However, this carrier discussed the case with Counsel and subrogation experts, and they saw an angle about how to pursue premises subrogation on the carrier that had the risk where the construction job was located.  Months later, the subro case was settled to the tune of a $900,000 recovery.

 

Adjusters as a whole are bombarded with information.  They are in charge of costs, contacts, claims, medical, vendors, legal aspects, meetings, phone calls, emails, you name it.  They are sometimes stuck in a rut of compensable claim investigations, boring investigations, and worrying about pointless metrics on indemnity claims. 

 

 

Take A Step Back And Think About Possibilities

 

The subro case above is the type of case where the job is interesting, and challenges you to take a step back and think about possibilities. 

 

Even in a situation as clear as this where on the surface a supervisor commanded a worker to ride a container, subrogation and recovery possibilities can lie dormant in plenty of claims.  If you find an angle to do subro on a case where someone else ruled it out as impossible, you are going to look like a champ in your office.

 

The challenge is to find the time to look at it with a different set of eyes.  This is not to say that you are going to take every file and start firing off subro notice letters on all of them, but I suspect plenty are out there where a subro letter may yield some results of recovery.

 

 

Case #2 Example of Subrogation Potential

 

Case #2 to prove my point, a worker fell off of a rented hi-lo.  He slipped off when his boot slipped on a step.  This was an old hi-lo, it had no grab bars, no cage, and no anti-slip materials on the floor of it.  When placed on notice, the rental company resisted settlement.  The carrier then added in the manufacturer of the hi-lo, because the enclosed step was a hazard itself. 

 

The step posed a risk because of work boots.  Even the person with the smallest foot could never fit their foot in the step because the step is not big enough.  It is made for people that wear tennis shows, and not steel-toed boots. 

 

This case is still going on, but I suspect they may have an angle on that case for a recovery of some sort.  The rental company failed to maintain the hi-lo with anti-slip surface on the floor, and the makers of the hi-lo had a poor design with the “step” that was put in to help workers.  The step itself actually made the hi-lo more dangerous.  Plus no grab bars, no cage, etc. 

 

So you see you can try to push subro on anything.  The worst that can happen is that the other carrier will tell you no.  Keep pushing those cases in to the pipeline, and you will land a trophy recovery sooner or later. 

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx Work Comp Solutions. He is an expert in employer communication systems and helps employers reduce their workers comp costs by 20% to 50%. He resides in the Boston area and works as a Qualified Loss Management Program provider working with high experience modification factor companies in the Massachusetts State Risk Pool.  He is co-author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com, and Founder of the interactive Workers’ Comp Training platform COMPClub. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 

©2015 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 

California Officials Continue Major Emphasis on Workplace Safety

The nation’s most populous state continues to emphasize that employers must make for safe working conditions for those under their employ.

 
In late April, Workers’ Memorial Day 2015 honored the men and women who were injured or died on the job in California and throughout the world. This international day of remembrance and action is held annually on April 28, the date when Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 which promises every worker the right to a safe job.

 

“On this day we renew the nation’s 45-year commitment to workplace safety and remember the California workers who lost their lives while on the job,” said DIR director Christine Baker. “Employers who maintain safe working conditions are building a more prosperous California by protecting workers and preventing costly injuries.”

 

Cal/OSHA, which is a division of DIR, was established in 1973 as a state-run program to enforce effective standards, assist employers to establish and maintain safe working conditions, and to provide information, research, education and training in occupational safety and health.

 

It was the first in the nation to adopt an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) standard in 1991 and the first to adopt a heat illness prevention regulation in 2005, followed by high-heat regulations for some industries, including agriculture, construction, landscaping, and oil and gas extraction, in 2010. This innovation is part of Cal/OSHA’s ongoing effort to identify workplace hazards before they result in trauma and loss.

 

“Cal/OSHA is dedicated to preventing workplace injuries and illnesses through a multifaceted approach that includes education, outreach, permitting, licensing, consultation services, and development of new occupational health and safety standards, as well as strong, clear, and consistent enforcement,” added Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum.
Cal/OSHA has initiated other significant safety programs.

 

Worker Heat Illness Major Summertime Focus

 

The heat illness prevention campaign “Water. Rest.Shade. – The work can’t get done without them” has increased employer awareness and compliance and significantly reduced outdoor-related illnesses and deaths since its introduction in 2010.

 

Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention web Department of Industrial Relations pages include resources and updates on state-wide training sessions, as well as a guide to new requirements with additional safeguards starting May 1.

 

And three years ago, Cal/OSHA launched a state-wide Confined Space Initiative following the deaths of seven workers due to confined space hazards in various industries.

 

The website has resources on confined space hazard prevention. Cal/OSHA helps protect workers from health and safety hazards on the job in almost every workplace in California.

 

Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Service provides free and voluntary assistance to employers and employee organizations to improve their health and safety programs.

 

 

 

Author Kori Shafer-Stack, Editor, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in post-injury response procedures and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: kstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

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Workers Comp Roundtable Roundup – It’s Padgett Time

Welcome to the Roundtable Roundup, the most active discussions, highlights and summary of all the action on the Workers Compensation Roundtable last week.  We appreciate your thoughts, comments, and participation in the WC Roundtable. We look forward to featuring you!

 

 

It is Padgett Time, Third DCA Reverses

 

Posted by Bob Wilson:

 

One of the cases upon which the Sate of Florida has focused over the last year has been decided. The Third District Court of Appeal today (June 24, 2015) rendered its REVERSAL of the trial judge in The State of Florida v. Florida Workers' Advocates (Commonly referred to as Padgett).  

 

Weigh In On This Discussion:

 

 

Why Can't We Be Tough On Workers' Comp Fraud?

 

Posted by Bob Wilson:

 

Fraud, when discussed in the context of workers’ compensation, is an interesting thing that many can’t seem to agree on. Some injured workers will tell you that there is virtually no such thing as workers’ comp fraud (except for all the fraud committed against them by the entire world – insurers, employers, regulators, Starbucks Baristas and assorted Disney characters). They will grudgingly admit that in the event it does exist at all, it is so inconsequential, so infinitesimal, that it doesn’t even deserve the time of day. Some on the professional side seem to believe that any claim is a fraudulent one, and that injured workers’ are “guilty until proven innocent”.  They view every claim through a suspicious microscope, and look for any indicator that someone is trying to pull the wool over their eyes.

 

Comment Highlights:

  • Great topic as always Bob……several factors are at play…first, as you know we are in a pay or deny business.
  • Definitely an unrealistic timeline for adjusters. We are the big bad insurance company trying to take advantage of the "working man" so the court system is already geared to favor claimants.
  • Just to share a frustrating real life example of how our legal actually works. Plaintiff, under oath, breaks down and cries, admitting she filed for workers compensation simply because her short disability had run out.
  • Defense attorneys, insurers and employers, all wish more fraud cases were prosecuted and the criminals punished appropriately
  • Allison, I could not have said it better myself. We can diligently work feverishly and do everything by the book and within the timeframe and yet because we are seen as the 'enemy' in the judge's eyes, we are already wrong before we set foot at a hearing.

 

Weigh In On This Discussion:

 

 

Work comp is like the weather, there's always have something to say about it.

 

Posted by David Depaolo

 

There's so much to comment on this morning that I'm feeling a bit schizophrenic. But there's a common theme: workers' compensation seems to exist in this vertical vacuum surrounded by a vortex of outside forces that tug and pull on the funnel like a tornado traveling across Oklahoma's prairie lands, taking out interests along the ways, but randomly sparing others.

 

Comment highlights:

  • So true
  • Totally agree!

 

Weigh In On This Discussion

 

 

Florida's 3rd District Court of Appeal Reverses Judge Cueto's Decision in Padgett

 

Posted by Thomas Robinson

 

Earlier today (June 24th), Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal reversed and completely repudiated the decision of Judge Jorge E. Cueto, Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, that had, on August 19, 2014, held the exclusive remedy provision of the state’s Workers’ Compensation Law [Fla. Stat. § 440.11] was unconstitutional [see State of Florida v. Florida Workers’ Advocates, et al., Case No. 3D14-2062, Lower Tribunal No. 11-13661, 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 9531 (“Padgett”)].

 

Comment highlights:

  • This is a clearly written and easy-to-understand primer on how Padgett became Padgett. Thanks to Tom for educating us all. I agree that the 3rd DCA got it right. But like many others, I still question whether the "grand bargain" no longer exists in this country for both employees and employers.

 

Weigh in on this discussion:

 

 

 

The Roundtable Roundup is brought to you by your group managers:

 

Michael Stack & Rebecca Shafer; Founders of COMPClub (http://workerscompclub.com); Authors of Amaxx Workers Comp Resource Center (http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com) and Your Ultimate Guide to Mastering Workers Comp Costs (http://wcmanual.com)

 

Bob Wilson; Author of Bob’s Cluttered Desk (http://www.workerscompensation.com/compnewsnetwork/from-bobs-cluttered-desk/index.1.html) and CEO of Workerscompensation.com – The Workers Comp Compliance Center (http://workerscompensation.com)

File A Negligence Claim In Transportation Claims To Save Work Comp Costs

A new decision, “Pasternack, Tilker et al, LLP”, 2d Dept. (6/10/15) helps transportation companies with vehicle collisions which also involve a workers compensation claim. Often, the driver files for workers’ compensation and seeks the advice of a lawyer. The workers’ compensation firm accepts the work comp claim, but declines to pursue a negligence claim. If the negligence claim is pursued, the final result can be a much smaller workers compensation claim and substantial recoveries from a third party responsible for the accident. However, if the negligence claim is not pursued the employer will be, through its carrier, the only one paying.

 

 

Employers Carrier Should Get Right To File Negligence Claim in Vehicle Collisions

 

In the new case, the worker believed that the compensation firm was pursuing both the compensation claim and a negligence claim. The law firm showed that it had mailed the worker a letter declining to pursue the negligence claim but it could not show that the worker ever received it. The compensation firm has been sued for legal malpractice.

 

Such situations are far from rare. Vehicle accidents account for a large percentage of all compensation claims and are present on most accidents involving transportation. What could have been done to improve the employer’s position? If there is any chance that a negligence claim can be filed, the carrier can send a “use it or lose it” letter to the worker advising that if the worker fails to start a negligence claim the carrier will get the right to file it. When this occurs, the carrier usually settles with the negligence carrier quickly, as opposed to the drawn out proceeding when the worker sues.

 

 

Rapid Negligence Settlements With “Other Guy’s” Carrier Takes Pressure Off Work Comp Claim

 

Rapid settlements often result in better outcomes for the employer since they often eliminate the financial incentives for a lengthy workers compensation claim. In addition, when the employer’s carrier takes over a negligence claim it is in a position to learn far more of the details of the worker’s activities and medical history, leading to faster and smaller claims.

 

 

Employers Should Work With Carrier To Initiate Procedure

 

But the employer cannot do this on its own; the workers compensation carrier must initiate it. The employer, however, can remain in contact and urge active measures by the carrier. Such interaction usually leads to better overall results.

 

For decades, malpractice suits against workers’ compensation law firms was all but unheard of. Workers compensation rates in NY were among the lowest in the nation leading to little interest in malpractice suits. However, when a workers’ compensation firm becomes involved in negligence claims that changes. For transportation companies, proactive participation can have many positive returns.

 

 

 

Author: Attorney Theodore Ronca is a practicing lawyer from Aquebogue, NY. He is a frequent writer and speaker, and has represented employers in the areas of workers’ compensation, Social Security disability, employee disability plans and subrogation for over 30 years. Attorney Ronca can be reached at 631-722-2100. medsearch7@optonline.net  

 

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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 

 

How Sharp Is Your Work Comp Fraud Detector?

While we can tell our readers the importance of fighting fraudulent claims, and publish lists of red flag indicators of fraud, it is often difficult for the risk manager or workers’ compensation coordinator to separate the legitimate work comp claims from the bogus claims.

 

To assist you in recognizing the bogus claims, we are providing a sample claim, using the actual facts of a submitted workers’ compensation claim to see if you can recognize or spot ten red flags of a bogus claim (the name of the employee has been altered to protect the guilty).

 

 

The Claim:

 

John Doe works in an auto repair shop as a mechanic.  Upon arriving early for work on Monday morning, Mr. Doe went into the auto parts store room to get a part for the car he was going to work on.  While leaving the storeroom and using both hands to carry the heavy auto part in a box, he tripped over another box on the floor.  In an effort to keep from falling, he grabbed a storage shelf, twisting and injuring his shoulder as he fell to the floor.  No one saw him fall in the parts storage room as the other employees were just arriving for work.

 

Mr. Doe immediately reported the claim to the shop manager and explained to the manager how he fell over the box on the floor he did not see because of the box he was carrying with both hands.  The shop manager offered to take Mr. Doe to the nearest industrial medicine clinic, but Mr. Doe instead chose to take himself to his “family doctor”.  The family doctor took Mr. Doe off work and did not indicate when he would be able to return to work.

 

When the shop manager called Mr. Doe the next morning to see how he was doing, Mr. Doe’s wife stated he was sleeping and could be disturbed.  The shop manager waited and called Mr. Doe again that afternoon.  Per the wife, Mr. Doe had stepped out.  The shop manager asked for Mr. Doe’s cell phone number, but instead of providing the phone number, the wife promised to have Mr. Doe call the manager.  Mr. Doe almost immediately called the manager back to relay what the family doctor had said. The shop manager recorded the cell phone number of Mr. Doe.  When the shop manager called Mr. Doe’s cell phone the following week to see what the family doctor had to say after the second medical appointment, the background noises did not sound like the noise you would hear in a person’s home.

 

A second mechanic in the shop after being overworked for three weeks due to the absence of Mr. Doe advised the shop manager that he had heard through a mutual friend that Mr. Doe had injured his shoulder while rock climbing the weekend before the reported injury.

 

 

The claim has numerous red flags that could be a tip-off for fraud.  They are:

 

  1. Monday morning accident. Almost twice as many accidents occur on Monday morning than any other morning of the week.  This is due to people claiming non-work related weekend injuries as work related in order to not lose their source of income.
  2. Arriving early for work. Unless the employee habitually arrives early for work, arrival for work early on the day of the alleged accident is an indicator the employee wanted to “have the accident” before other employees see he is injured.
  3. Not seeing a hazard he had just saw moments earlier. If boxes on the floor were a common occurrence, the employee would be careful about watching where he was going. If a box on the floor was unusual, the employee would have made a mental note to avoid it.
  4. The mechanism of injury does not make sense. If the employee was using both hands to carry a heavy box, how did he have a hand free to grab the storage shelf?
  5. The accident was not witnessed. Bogus injury claims almost always occur where no one else will see the accident happen.
  6. The selection of a particular doctor over a more qualified doctor who specializes in treating injured employees. This is normally a sign the employee wants a doctor who will accommodate his desire to be off work.
  7. A doctor who does not address return to work. This is normally because the injured employee tells the doctor that he does not feel he will be able to meet his job requirements.
  8. The employee being asleep when he would normally be awake. Unless the doctor has prescribed some very strong pain killers, the employee should be available to talk to the employer.
  9. The employee not being at home. Occasionally not home is understandable, repeatedly not home/not available is usually a sign the employee has something better to do than being at home, i.e., possibly another job, either short-term or long-term.  Background noises that don’t sound like a spouse or a television often are an indicator the employee is working elsewhere.
  10. Tips from co-workers. This is probably the strongest evidence of fraud and should be investigated thoroughly.

 

None of these red flags by themselves are proof of fraud, nor is a combination of two red flags.  However, the more red flags the employer sees on a claim, the higher the probability the claim is fraudulent.  If you see multiple reasons to question the validity of a claim, the insurance adjuster and the special investigative unit of the insurer should be notified as to why you believe the claim to be questionable.

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx Work Comp Solutions. He is an expert in employer communication systems and helps employers reduce their workers comp costs by 20% to 50%. He resides in the Boston area and works as a Qualified Loss Management Program provider working with high experience modification factor companies in the Massachusetts State Risk Pool.  He is co-author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com, and Founder of the interactive Workers’ Comp Training platform COMPClub. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 

Cal/OSHA Cites Pair of Employers for Nearly $100K

Cal/OSHA recently issued citations totaling $90,935 to C.C. Myers, Inc. and $7,200 to Terry Equipment, Inc. following an accident in which an employee of C.C. Myers was pulled into an unguarded concrete placer machine.

 
The 35-year-old man was cleaning the hopper of the machine owned by Terry Equipment, and sustained traumatic injuries to his right leg that resulted in subsequent complete amputation to the hip bone.

 

“No employee should be at risk of such a serious injury on the job. Cal/OSHA will hold employers accountable for failing to prevent hazards that threaten the life and livelihood of California’s workers,” said Christine Baker, director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). Cal/OSHA is a division of DIR.

 

The accident occurred around 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 13, 2014, on the eastbound median of Highway 4 in Antioch.

 

As part of the paving process to expand a segment of the highway, employees of C.C. Myers lined up trucks full of concrete to dump into the concrete placer machine.

 

The victim was assigned to help a co-worker perform cleaning and maintenance of the hopper; neither worker had been provided safety training to do so. While standing on top of the hopper chipping away at the concrete inside, the victim slipped and his leg was pulled into a rotating steel auger located inside the hopper.

 

The emergency switch was not shut off in time, and he was transported to John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek where he spent 12 days in recovery.

 

Both Employers Lacked Proper Safety Measures

 

Cal/OSHA’s investigation found that both C.C. Myers of Rancho Cordova and Terry Equipment of Bloomington, the company that leased the concrete placer, failed to implement adequate safety measures.

 

C.C. Myers was issued eight citations in total, including four serious and three serious accident-related citations for failure to place a guard on the auger as well as lack of safety procedures such as lockout/tagout and related employee training.

 

Terry Equipment Inc., was issued one serious citation for neglecting to place a guard on the machine which, as owner, the company had the ability and authority to do.

 

 

 

Author Kori Shafer-Stack, Editor, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in post-injury response procedures and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: kstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

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Effectively Handling Retraining Claims

Under many workers’ compensation programs, injured parties have a statutory right to vocational rehabilitation benefits.  These benefits include the right to retraining when other efforts such as job placement and search are not successful.  Due to the significant costs associated with retraining, it is important to claim handlers to understand how to handle claims of this nature.

 

 

What is Retraining?

 

Retraining in a typical workers’ compensation program involves a formal course of study in a school setting.  The purpose is to return an injured worker to suitable gainful employment.  Retraining can also include a spouse of a deceased employee.

 

In most instances, a claimant seeking these benefits must demonstrate through prior efforts that they lack the transferable job skills to attain a comparable post-injury economic status.  Other factors that come into play include the inability of the claimant to successfully re-enter the labor market given other barriers, including economic factors within their community.

 

 

Retraining Limitations

 

Most jurisdictions impose limitations to a retraining program.  These limitations can include the following:

 

  • A specified number of weeks to complete a retraining program;
  • Receipt of other workers’ compensation benefits, including indemnity benefits; or
  • Payment for other associated expenses with the retraining program.

 

Understanding the scope of the laws and rules related to retraining are important as they vary by jurisdiction.

 

 

Retraining Eligibility

 

As a general rule, a retraining program will be evaluated under the following criteria:

 

  • Whether the proposed retraining program is reasonable to return the employee to comparable positions.
  • The likelihood that the employee with complete the program based on prior academic and vocational experiences, and their existing abilities and interests.
  • Whether there are existing employment opportunities available for the position they are retraining.
  • Potential future economic status once the employee has completed the retraining program.

 

 

Defending a Retraining Claim

 

In most jurisdictions, there are no statutory caps on the costs of a retraining program.  There are numerous workers’ compensation cases nationwide were an injured worker sought and was awarded advanced degrees, including a law school education.  It is important to review cases for potential future exposure and defend a claim properly from the onset.

 

  • Early identification is key. While most might assume retraining is something for older employees, it should also be something to evaluate in cases involving younger employees.

 

  • Investigate the employees past academic and vocational performance. This is especially true to people who may have dropped out of high school or failed to pursue a post-secondary education.  Retraining can also include vocational training, so never assume someone who does not graduate from a traditional four-year college will not seek retraining at a vo-tech institution.

 

  • Obtain an expert opinion on the proposed retraining plan and the likelihood the employee will successfully complete the program. As part of using an expert in this area, it is important to identify deficiencies in the employee’s rehabilitation attempts and to determine also other retraining alternatives.

 

  • Evaluate the costs of various options and seek opportunities to provide an equivalent program at a comparable, but cheaper institution. An example of this is whether a retraining candidate can receive a two-year education and have essentially the same outcome as if they would receive a four-year degree.

 

 

Conclusions

 

Retraining can be a costly part of any workers’ compensation claim.  Proper claim management, investigation and aggressiveness can help mitigate retraining costs.

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx Work Comp Solutions. He is an expert in employer communication systems and helps employers reduce their workers comp costs by 20% to 50%. He resides in the Boston area and works as a Qualified Loss Management Program provider working with high experience modification factor companies in the Massachusetts State Risk Pool.  He is co-author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com, and Founder of the interactive Workers’ Comp Training platform COMPClub. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2015 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

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WC GROUP:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups?homeNewMember=&gid=1922050/

SUBSCRIBE: Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

WORKERS’ COMP TRAINING: https://workerscompclub.com

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 

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