Non-Traditional Schedules Can Contribute To Shift Work Disorder

by Gregg Cognac

Physician Assistant/Director of Clinical Affairs, Medcor

 

The human body is biologically programmed to sleep during the night and be awake and active during the day. This biological program is a 24-hour internal clock referred to as the circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm disturbances that consistently or recurrently interrupt sleep can affect people who work non-traditional hours such as rotating, evening, or night shifts. These disturbances cause problems with normal psychological and physiological body processes and can lead to a condition called shift work disorder (SWD) or shift work sleep disorder (SWSD).

 

 

Symptoms and Impact

People with SWSD commonly have symptoms of excessive sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and lack of energy. SWSD can have a devastating impact on personal well being, family life and work, increasing the risk for injuries, accidents, work errors, reduced performance, irritability, depression, and even substance abuse. This disorder can also lead to serious health conditions like cardiovascular disease, digestive disease, diabetes, and obesity.

 

The best strategy to alleviate symptoms is for shift workers to make sleep a priority and commit to behavioral or lifestyle modification changes. Some examples include exercising before your shift, not before bed, minimizing exposure to light after a night shift, keeping a regular sleep schedule (even on weekends), limiting excess caffeine or alcohol, and avoiding nicotine.

 

 

Addressing the Issues

People who find symptoms of SWSD interfering with their work or personal life should see their primary doctor or a sleep medicine specialist. The doctor will evaluate work hours, sleep activity, feelings upon waking, fatigue or sleeping at work, etc. It will be helpful to keep a two week record (sleep diary) of these factors in advance. Also, the doctor may need to order sleep studies to find out what is causing sleep problems. Sleep studies are tests that record what happens to your body during sleep. The doctor will use this information to develop a treatment plan to help you.

 

Knowing what you can and can’t change in life, being willing to change the things that you can control, and accepting those things you can’t, can have a significant positive impact on your overall health.

 

 

Author Gregg Cognac, PA-C, Clinical Affairs Director, Medcor is a certified Physician Assistant, and works with Medcor’s medical directors to provide oversight and support for on-site clinic staff in more than 170 locations nationwide.  Gregg earned his degree in PA studies from Midwest University in 1999, then completed post-graduate training in Emergency Medicine culminating in a Master’s degree.  Gregg’s clinical experienced has been in Emergency Medicine, Occupational Medicine and Cardiology.  Gregg contributes to policy and service development, QA, training, and other clinical support for clinic staff operating in a wide range of industries. http://medcor.com.  Contact: gregg.cognac@medcor.com

California DWC Regulations Delayed for One Year

California’s Division of Workers Compensation (DWC) recently adopted changes to a medical billing regulation and to the DWC Medical Billing and Payment Guide to postpone the ICD-10 compliance date for one year, to Oct. 1, 2015.

 
The International Classification of Diseases – 10th Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM) and the International Classification of Diseases – 10th Revision, Procedure Coding System (ICD-10-PCS) were adopted for workers comp in February 2014, with an implementation date of Oct. 1, 2014 to coincide with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) implementation date.

 
Subsequently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule postponing use of the ICD-10 until Oct. 1, 2015, for HIPAA-covered entities.

 
For workers comp, the Administrative Director has amended the Medical Billing and Payment Guide to align the workers comp ICD-10 transition date with the Oct. 1, 2015 ICD-10 transition date applicable to HIPAA-covered entities and the broader health care sector.

 
All workers comp participants are encouraged to move forward expeditiously to prepare for the transition.

 

 

 

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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Work Comp Adjuster Best Practice: Trust But Verify

This was the slogan of an old associate I had way back in the day.  I have mentioned it here in this blog many times, in many capacities.  “To trust but verify the truth” is what claims adjusting is all about.  We take the word of the injured worker, but at the same time verify on our own the “extent” of disability.  At times we are shocked.  Other times not.

 

Verification of a work comp claim has many tentacles of which to explore:  Verification of witness statements, of medical records, of causal relation, of wage records, of injury details, and so on.  Even further is verification of activities outside of work using surveillance, or verification of the injured worker’s status as a Resident of the USA.

 

Even a simple work comp claim has a lot of details of which to verify.  So in general terms, let us think about a few of the many tasks the adjuster has to verify during a claim:

 

 

Verify injury details

This is obvious.  The worker will claim what happened, and how they were injured.  The adjuster then makes that first phone call to the employer, in order to verify the injury details.  This is where it all begins.  Did the worker accurately recall what happened?  Was the worker performing normal job duties at time of injury?

 

 

Verify injured worker information

This will include DOB, SS#, tax status, height, weight, tobacco/alcohol use, prior medical history, prior surgical history, prior medication use, prior drug use, current job tasks, other work duties, other employers, other injuries, other car accidents or prior work comp claims, and so on.  This is where the claim is put together and these risk drivers are used to allocate the exposure of the claim.

 

 

Verify the causal relation of the mechanism of injury to the injury allegations

Claims people ask the doctor to correlate objective medical information and assemble the puzzle of work-relatedness.  This is where we verify the details of the claim, the mechanism of injury, and injury allegations, and the objective evidence.  A claim is accepted or denied based on this outcome.

 

 

Verify activity level against what the worker reports to their doctor

Completed by using onsite surveillance,  we see if the worker is as disabled as they claim to their doctor.  Some are, others are not.  This is where you verify how honest they are and identify any secondary gain issues.

 

 

Verify future exposure

During litigation, you want to make sure you look at the whole picture.  Future medical, MSA exposure, RX use, vocational issues, loss of earning capacity, whatever your jurisdiction has to offer to injured workers you have to take in to consideration as exposure.  This then has to be tied in to a monetary value of what the claim is worth, and what settlement value.

 

 

Verify ability to work in the USA

This one is a newer one, although not so new.  Many immigrant workers come to the USA in hopes of creating a better life for themselves and their families.  Sadly some are never able to complete a Resident process, or have a proper work visa.  We all know some story of an employer that has an army of illegal immigrants working for them.  When they become injured the employer dumps them aside.  In some jurisdictions, these workers do qualify for work comp medical benefits but no wages.  Some obtain a partial wage and medical, etc.  The key to remember though is to check everyone.  A lot of the SIU/PI firms use a service to verify immigrant status, and many will show the SS# matching to your claimant.  However when you present the same information to the Social Security Administration (SSA), your injured party is nowhere to be found.  This means thousands upon thousands of dollars in work comp pay may have been in error.  Redemptions worth thousands may have all been leakage due to the fact that the adjuster did not verify that a SS# matched up to the worker, confirmed by the SSA.  So verify your indemnity claimants, not only through ISO, and through your SIU firm, but also through the SSA.

 

 

Verification of claim details is an integral part of the claims process.  One that every adjuster tackles every day.  But how much verification they really complete is not known.  How much do you think your adjuster verifies?

 

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Principal, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/about/.  Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. 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.

 

Florida Employer Cited for Half-Dozen Safety Violations

One employer in the Sunshine State is not feeling too sunny after a recent finding from OSHA.

 
Jasper Contractors was cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for six safety violations for exposing workers to falls and other hazards while they performed roofing work at two residential work sites in Jacksonville. The inspections were initiated in March 2014 after the agency received complaints that employees were working from roofs without fall protection. Proposed penalties total $162,000.

 
“Management did not take any action to minimize the fall hazards while the employees worked from residential roofs, even though the workers wore harnesses and there were ropes and anchors on the roof,” said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA’s area director in Jacksonville. “Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry, which is why employers must ensure their workers use fall protection systems properly.”

 

No Fall Protection in Place

 
Willful citations were issued at each of the work sites for allowing employees to perform roofing work at heights of 8 to 12 feet without fall protection. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

 
OSHA issued a repeat violation for failure to ensure employees wore eye protection, which exposed workers to eye injuries from flying debris and nails. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The company received citations for this same violation in 2012 and 2013 at two job sites in Colorado.

 
Two serious violations were cited for failure to ensure workers on the ground wore head protection while cleaning up debris thrown from the roof and for failure to extend the side rails of a ladder 3 feet above the upper landing surface to provide roof access. Another violation was cited for failure to provide a first aid kit for employees.

 
A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

 

Jasper Contractors, headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is a nationwide contractor that specializes in residential, commercial and metal roofing. The company has been inspected by OSHA 12 times since 2009 and received multiple citations for repeat and serious violations of residential fall protection standards. Jasper currently employs approximately 74 workers nationwide.

 
Jasper Contractors was given 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

 

 

 

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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Five Ways Employers Reduce Attorney Fees and Legal Costs in Workers Compensation Cases

Workers’ comp legal defense expenses are increasing at an alarming rate. For instance, California Workers Compensation – Aon Advisory Bulletin from a study by WCIRB of California, said allocated costs (mostly attorney payments) increased 7.3% in 2013.”

 

Overzealous defense counsel and untrained (or spineless) adjusters can prolong litigation, increase costs and wreak havoc on the lives of injured workers. Let’s take a look at how risk managers can more closely manage the process.

 

 

1) Review outside counsel financial arrangements.

Consider capped fees, flat fees, or “invoice paid upon file completion. The latter allows outside counsel to defend the claim but discourages runaway fees for unnecessary hearings by having the entire fee paid at the end. With just one bill instead of monthly bills, excessive fees are more noticeable and easier to compare against other cases and law firms. It makes attorneys who are milking the claim more visible.

 

This is a good approach if you use the same attorney frequently.  However, this approach should not be used in a locale where the defense counsel only has one case.  You could end up with an excessive bill with little recourse other than fighting over the bill.

 

 

2) Conduct an independent audit to assess whether an attorney was needed in the first place, or whether they have just been assigned the case to do work the adjuster was too busy to do.

 

A favorite ploy of overworked or lazy adjusters is to let the defense counsel handle everything.  Don’t pay a lawyer to do the adjuster’s job.  An independent claims audit will uncover any such problems.

 

Are the same attorneys requesting hearings on the same issue repeatedly or requesting hearings on issues they are likely to lose? E.g. if terminated benefits are often reinstated at hearings, it indicates that benefits are being terminated without sufficient cause. This is one example of “churning.”

 

Churning is any activity for the sole purpose of increasing the legal bill. It can include unnecessary research, motions and discovery; having another attorney in the firm review the case; and having a paralegal or associate undertake an unnecessary action. Before the hearing, the adjuster should discuss with the attorney the need for the hearing, and the probable outcome. If you know you are going to lose, have counsel resolve the issue with the opposing counsel instead.  It will save both legal fees and unnecessary claim cost (indemnity and medical costs continue while you wait for the hearing).  You’ll move the file faster, at lower cost, to resolution.

 

 

3) Review whetheropportunities for agreement” between counsel are ignored.

For example, in Connecticut a claimant’s doctor can be changed with agreement of counsel, but defense lawyers never agree because it is more profitable to have a junior attorney attend these hearings.

 

Knowledgeable defense counsel will know which doctors are over-treating and over-rating disability, which doctors are known for unbiased treatment and ratings, and which doctors are conservative in their treatment and ratings.

 

Does defense counsel make unfounded accusations of misbehavior or wrongdoing against claimants on every claim to obfuscate issues and prolong the litigation? If your lawyer is not totally objective in assessing both the claim and the claimant, get someone else.

 

Red flag research charges. Very little legal research is necessary except in unusual claims.

 

 

4) Adjusters – with sufficient authority – should attend all hearings with defense counsel.

Sometimes there are opportunities to settle litigation during hearings. Often, seasoned adjusters are capable of attending hearings without a lawyer. This is not allowed in some jurisdictions.

 

 

5) An employer representative should be available to testify about job requirements and transitional duty.

To verify you are controlling your legal fees, have a litigation management review by an independent claims auditor to determine the effectiveness of your adjusters in controlling legal expenses.  Second, have an experienced legal bill auditor review legal invoices.

 

 

 
Rebecca Shafer is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment and the author of 2015 Ultimate Guide to Mastering Workers Comp Costs: Reduce Costs 2%-50%. Shafer has developed training programs for organizations of all sizes to reduce workers’ compensation costs 20%-50%.  Her clients have included CVS, The New York Times, Knight- Ridder, Cablevision, Wyeth, First Group America and many others. She can be reached at Rebecca@WCManual.com or 860-553-6604.

 

 

 

 

Singapore Sees Overall Uptick in Workplace Injuries, Fatalities

While the goal in Singapore is to reduce workplace injuries and deaths, the goal is far from being achieved.

 
According to a recent report, workplace injuries and fatalities rose in the first half of 2014, increasing by 14% and 20%, respectively compared to the same period in 2013, that according to the latest Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Statistics Report from January to June 2014 released by the WSH Institute.

 
Thirty workers lost their lives at their workplace in the first half of 2014, up from 25 during the same period last year, while major injuries edged up to 279, from 273 in 2013.

 
The information notes that:

 

  • There were four fatalities due to work-related traffic accidents in the first half of 2014, compared to 11 fatalities over the same period in 2013. There were 11% fewer Occupational disease (OD) cases for the first half of 2014 compared to the same period last year;

 

  • The construction sector was the main contributor (57%) of workplace fatalities and remains a cause for concern. There were 17 fatalities in the first half of 2014, compared to 11 over the same period last year. The three traditionally higher risk sectors accounted for 73% of workplace fatalities. Fatalities in the logistics and transport sub-sector doubled to six cases in the first half of 2014;

 

  • Falls, Struck by Moving Objects, Caught in/between Objects and Crane-related accidents were the most common causes of workplace fatalities. Falls was the leading incident type at nine cases. There were four cases of Struck by Moving Objects and three fatal crane-related incidents in the first half of 2014;

 

  • The three traditionally higher risk sectors accounted for 54% of the 279 cases of major injuries, with the construction sector registering an increase from 71 cases in the first half of 2013 to 84 over the same period in 2014. Major injuries rose for non-traditional sectors as well, from 38 cases in the first half of 2013 to 50 over the same period in 2014. These were seen in various sectors such as Water Supply, Sewerage, Waste Management and Remediation Activities, Wholesale and Retail Trade and Logistics and Transport;

 

  • The first half of 2014 also saw 6,005 minor injuries, up from 5,249 over the same period in 2013. The manufacturing sector remained the highest contributor (23%) of minor injuries while the construction sector recorded a 29% increase – from 1,045 cases in the first half of 2013 to 1,346 over the same period in 2014. Slips, Trips and Falls, which contributed to the bulk of both major (30%) and minor (23%) injuries in the first half of 2014, remained the top incident type.Fatal injuries arising from work-related traffic accidents;

 

  • While the number of work-related traffic fatalities in the transportation and storage sector decreased from four in the first half of 2013 to two in the first half of 2014, the sector remained the main contributor of work-related traffic fatalities. Of the four work-related traffic fatalities in the first half of 2014, motorcycles were the most common vehicle involved (three cases).

 

Report Hopefully Will Lead to Better Results

 

DrGanSiok Lin, executive director of the WSH Institute, noted “There has been a marked increase in workplace injuries for the first half of 2014 as compared to last year. We hope that the industry will make use of the report to find out the common causes of these injuries, and take preventive measures now to review their workplace safety and health systems and address areas which may have been neglected.”

 

 

 

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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Impact of Obesity on Workers’ Compensation

The growing waist line of America is not only having an impact on our health, but on workers’ compensation programs.  This impact can increase the costs of common work injuries.

 

 

An All Too Common Hypothetical

 

John McNeely is your average American who works for Hard Hat Construction Company as a specialized laborer.  Although he is a hard working individual, he enjoys his time off on the weekends.  This has resulted in him being “a few pounds overweight.”

 

One day he suffers a compensable injury to his knee in the nature of a right medial meniscus and ACL tear.  As a result of the injury, he receives a standard course of medical care and treatment, which includes surgical repair and post-operative physical therapy.  Unfortunately, Mr. McNeely continues to have issues with his right knee and he is eventually referred for a right knee arthroplasty.  Due to his underlying condition of obesity, it is recommended he undergo a weight loss program prior to surgery.  A request for payment is submitted to the workers’ compensation insurer, which is denied.  Is the obesity care compensable?

 

 

Current Status of the Law

 

Each state’s workers’ compensation law governs the compensability of medical care and treatment.  While every law is different, there is a growing trend across the United States of courts requiring workers’ compensation insurers to pay for treatment such as weight loss programs or surgery.  These forms of additional medical care and treatment are costly and place added burdens on the system.

 

In examining these issues, courts have concentrated on the specific state’s statutes and case law interpretations as to what is “reasonable and necessary” to cure and relieve the effects of the work injury.  When engaging in this analysis, they often note that the employee’s obesity, while not work related, is reasonable and required to promote resolution of thework injury.  In such cases as injuries to backs (especially the lower back), lower extremities and weight bearing joints, weight loss programs and surgeries are being found to be compensable.

 

 

Meeting the Challenges of Obesity

 

Workers’ compensation claims that involve an obese employee create many challenges.  Here are several suggestions for meeting these demands:

 

  1. Every workers’ compensation claim is dependent on the statutory framework of their controlling law and case law interpretations. Every case is also dependent on the facts of the case.  There is no “cookie cutter” approach to handling these claims.

 

  1. Defense attorneys should carefully question their medical experts regarding obesity-related care. Special caution should also be given to the expert’s opinion regarding what symptomology, if any, is related to the underlying obesity diagnosis, and the effect the pre-existing condition has on the progression of the work injury.

 

  1. Numerous studies indicate obese employees are more likely to file a workers’ compensation claims. Employers should scrutinize their work environment for dangers and take proactive steps to prevent injury.  Paying attention to workplace ergonomics is essential.

 

  1. The longer an injured worker is off work, the greater chance they will decondition. Getting injured workers back to work in some capacity is better than no work at all.  Contrary to popular belief, disabled workers want to get back into the workplace and be active in the labor market.  Do not assume a case is hopeless.

 

  1. Use medical experts who understand these issues and pay special caution to the employee’s symptomology, if any, and its relation to the underlying diagnosis.

 

  1. Promote employee wellness programs within the work place and implement programs that follow best practices. Studies show that effective and well-implemented wellness program­­s reduce costs and promote a positive work environment.

 

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Principal, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/about/.  Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. 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.

 

British Employee Injured, Employer Suffers Fines

Injuries to a British roadworker, who suffered minor burns when a road marking vehicle caught fire and exploded in Bristol, has led to fines for his employer following a recent court hearing.

 
Neil Higgins from Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire was laying road markings with a team at Imperial Park, Hartcliffe, in June of 2013 when the explosion happened, causing him to suffer burns.

 
The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted Redland Road Marking Ltd at Bristol Magistrates Court in early October of this year.

 
HSE’s investigation found that gas-heated cauldrons on top of the vehicle were unsuitable for the work because the pipework was not properly connected and the equipment had no flame failure devices. In addition, the pipework had not been fitted by a competent person.

 
Business Pleads Guilty to Breaching Regulations

 
Higgins’ employer, Redland Road Marking Ltd, of Hillside Road, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching work equipment regulations and was fined a little more than $3,200 and ordered to pay some $1,800 in costs.

 
HSE Principal Inspector Helena Tinton, speaking after the hearing noted, “This is not the first time there has been a fire of this nature on a road marking vehicle and the operators need to ensure that the equipment has been installed by a competent person and regularly maintained. It is a matter of good fortune that nobody died as a result of this incident.”

 

 

 

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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New Jersey Employer Fined for Safety and Health Hazards

Not keeping workers safe on the job has resulted in fines for one New Jersey-based business.

 

Custom-order cabinetry company Choice Cabinetry LLC exposed employees to safety and health hazards, many involving methylene chloride, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Initiated as part of its Site-Specific Targeting Program for industries with high injury and illness rates, OSHA’s March 2014 inspection cited the Somerville company for 15 violations, including three willful. Proposed penalties total $136,290.

 

“Methylene chloride is a carcinogen, so it’s vital that employers like Choice Cabinetry take all necessary steps to protect workers when there is exposure,” said Patricia Jones, director of OSHA’s Avenel Area Office. “All workers have the right to a safe and healthy work environment, and OSHA will hold each employer accountable when this legal obligation is not met.”

 

Lack of Hazard Communication Program Noted

 

Three willful violations were cited for the company’s lack of a hazard communication program, hazard communication training and methylene chloride training. Workers exposed to methylene chloride are at increased risk of developing cancer and skin and eye irritation and may suffer adverse effects on the heart, central nervous system and liver. These willful citations carry a penalty of $53,900. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

 

One failure-to-abate citation, with a $27,720 penalty, was issued for the company’s failure to install alarms on the walk-in spray booth. Alarms would warn employees of inadequate ventilation during spraying operations. A failure-to-abate violation exists when the employer has not corrected a violation for which OSHA has issued a citation and the abatement date has passed or is covered under a settlement agreement.

 

Carrying a penalty of $21,560, four repeat violations were cited for damaging noise levels and respiratory program deficiencies. The company was previously cited for these violations at the same location in 2011. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

 

The company was cited for seven serious violations, carrying a $32,340 penalty, due to employee exposure to methylene chloride, including a lack of personal protective equipment and eyewash facilities. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

 

One additional violation with a $770 penalty was cited because the company failed to provide injury and illness records within four hours of OSHA’s request.

 

Choice Cabinetry was given 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings.

 

 

 

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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How Would An Ebola Pandemic Affect Work Comp?

What does 1918 have to do with Ebola and work comp in 2014? Unfortunately a great deal. In 1918, the final year of World War I, the world saw a pandemic of influenza with the most deaths of any single event in world history – estimated to be 50,000,000 world wide, with 800,000+ in the United States in one year.

 

The pandemic came in two waves six months apart. The first was mild but the second was the killer. The virus had quickly mutated.

 

Work comp in NY was four years old in 1918 but the influenza event doesn’t seem to have received a single mention in the NY work comp cases. Perhaps that is due to the fact that communicable diseases were not yet covered under a law that was intended for heavy, dangerous work and covered only accidents, not diseases.

 

 

How Would An Ebola Pandemic Affect Work Comp?

 

What would be the effects of a pandemic be on work comp in the US? Certainly they will not be the same as they were in 1918. If we use the response to 9/11 as a guide, as many Ebola incidents as possible will be covered under work comp laws. The deaths on 9/11 were about 3000. The final number of occupational disease claims for first responders will surely be many multiples of the first day deaths.

 

It is difficult to imagine that work comp could resist expansion to cover Ebola when the largest available insurance program, in terms of percentage of workers covered, is work comp.

 

The effects of a pandemic are difficult to imagine in a nation that has not experienced one in more than three generations. Just one statistic shows what a pandemic can do. In 1919 the average life expectancy in the US had been lowered by 12 YEARS, largely due to infants under 1 year of age being the hardest hit.

 

The effects of the pandemic hit the most remote populations on earth, even in the high arctic. The death rates were the lowest in nations that had imposed the strictest barriers to influx of possibly infected persons (Japan had imposed a virtual ban on incoming ships).

 

 

Liberal Interpretation of Causal Relationship to Work Comp Claims

 

This would be an event unlike any other ever faced by a comp system, even though it has little to do with health risks created by hazards of a workplace. The impact will be enhanced by the liberal interpretation of causal relationship given to comp claims, a tradition started in the early years when only workplace trauma was covered.

 

With any great disaster, hindsight clearly locates the deficiences in responses to it. Unfortunately, for a system as litigation driven as work comp that can only mean a degradation of efficiency in the system overall.

 

 

 

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.

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