Australian Employer Convicted, Fined Following Severe Worker Injury

An Ocean Grove, Australia plastering company was recently convicted and fined $25,000 over an incident in which a subcontractor suffered severe spinal injuries after falling from a work platform.

 
Precision Plastering pleaded guilty in the Geelong Magistrates’ Court to one charge of breaching the OHS Act 2004 for failing to ensure the workplace was safe and without risks to health. It was also ordered to pay $5,000 in costs.

 

The conviction follows the recent prosecution of another Ocean Grove based-business, Vand Builders Pty Ltd, over the same incident. Vand Builders was also convicted and fined $25,000.

 
The court heard that in 2015 Precision Plastering Pty Ltd was engaged by Vand Builders to assist in the construction of two adjoining double-storey townhouses at Ocean Grove on the Bellarine Peninsula.

 

On Sept. 8, 2015, more than 40 sheets of plaster were delivered to the site by truck. After the truck became bogged it was decided that the sheets were to be unloaded by two workers on the ground, who would pass them up to two workers on a work platform made of steel scaffolding.

 

The sheets were then to be passed to three workers standing on a second-floor balcony so they could be taken inside. The court was told the platform was about 2.1m above the ground and about 1m from the side of the townhouse. It had no protective guard rails.

 

A subcontractor for Precision Plastering who was to be working on the platform requested some form of fall protection. Vand Builders added a piece of frame to one side of the platform but left the other three sides without protection.

 

After a majority of the plaster sheets had been moved, four of the largest sheets remained, each measuring 1.35m by 4.8m and weighing about 40kg. As one of the sheets was being moved, it snapped and struck the subcontractor pushing him through the gap between the platform and the townhouse. He landed on his head, fracturing his skull and breaking his spine.

 

In his Victim Impact Statement, which was read to the court, the man said he now spent most of his time in a wheelchair and continued to suffer a range of severe medical problems.
WorkSafe’s Acting Executive Director of Health and Safety, Melinda Collinson, said Precision Plastering had failed completely in their duty of care.

 

“There is just no excuse for an incident like this to have occurred in a workplace,” Collinson said. “Falls are a leading cause of serious injury and death on construction sites in Victoria and appropriate safety guarding must be installed when working from heights.

 

“It is not acceptable that even after the subcontractor asked for protective measures to be added to the platform, adequate risk controls were not provided by either Precision Plastering or Vand builders.

 

“The lack of regard for worker safety by both companies has tragically changed this man’s life forever.

 

“Workplace safety is everyone’s responsibility and it is vitally important that hazards are recognized and the risks controlled to prevent a serious injury or worse.”

 

 

 

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.

 

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WCIRB Votes to Authorize Jan. 1 Filing to California Insurance Commissioner

Recently, the Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB) of California Governing Committee voted to authorize the WCIRB to submit a Jan. 1, 2017 Advisory Pure Premium Rate Filing to the California Insurance Commissioner.

 
The Filing will propose advisory pure premium rates that average $2.26 per $100 of payroll, which is 11.0% less than the corresponding industry average filed pure premium rate of $2.54 as of July 1, 2016, and 2.6% less than the average approved July 1, 2016 advisory pure premium rate of $2.32.

 

This marks the fourth consecutive Filing that the WCIRB has advised a decrease in pure premium rates, totaling -18.6% when compared to the average of the approved Jan. 1, 2015 advisory pure premium rates.

 

In his presentation to the Governing Committee, WCIRB Chief Actuary Dave Bellusci noted that the indicated Jan. 1, 2017 average advisory pure premium rate, while only slightly below the July 1, 2016 average approved pure premium rate, is -7.5% from the average Jan. 1, 2016 pure premium rate.

 

Bellusci also identified some of the factors contributing to the reduced indicated pure premium rate:

 

  • Medical losses on 2014 and prior accident years continue to develop favorably;
  • Medical claim costs on 2015 accidents are emerging at lower than projected levels;
  • Indemnity claims are settling at quicker rates than in the recent past;
  • Forecasts of future wage level growth in California have increased.

 

 

Despite these positive trends, Bellusci acknowledged that post-SB 863 loss adjustment expenses (LAE) and indemnity claim frequency continue to emerge higher than projected, but these increases have been more than offset by the favorable medical loss trends.

 

The CDI will schedule a public hearing to consider the Filing and once the Notice of Proposed Action and Notice of Public Hearing is issued, the WCIRB will post a copy in the Publications and Filings section of the website (www.wcirb.com).

 

 

 

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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Massachusetts Employer Exposed Employees to Life-Threatening Falls

Dorchester, Massachusetts-based contractor Roof Kings LLC exposed employees to life-threatening falls – more than 45 feet off the ground – over a three-day period as they worked at a Haverhill church, federal workplace safety and health inspectors found.

 

In response to a complaint, the Andover Area Office of the U. S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration began its inspection on Feb. 17, 2016. Inspectors found Roof Kings’ employees working without fall protection atop the steep-pitched roof at 232 Main St. Workers also lacked fall protection as they worked on a lower, sloped roof and on ladders that did not extend at least three feet above landings for required stability.

 

OSHA officials brought the violations – and the need to correct them – to the attention of the company’s site supervisor. On Feb. 18 and 19, they returned to continue the inspection and found the fall hazards ignored and Roof Kings workers still at risk of deadly or disabling falls.

 

“Employees should never have to risk their lives for a paycheck. Roof Kings has no excuse for knowingly and repeatedly failing to provide and ensure required fall protection safeguards,” said Anthony Covello, OSHA’s area director for Essex and Middlesex counties.

 

OSHA found Roof King employees exposed to additional fall hazards stemming from:

 

  • Using a materials hoist improperly as a ladder.
  • Inadequate fall protection training.
  • An unsecured fall protection anchor.
  • A fall protection lanyard that would allow an employee to fall more than 6 feet.
  • An improperly angled extension ladder.
  • Ascent and descent on a ladder while carrying an object that could cause a worker to lose balance.
  • Lack of training on how to use ladders safely.

 

 

Preventable Falls Significant Problem in Construction Industry

 
“Preventable falls account for nearly 40 percent of all deaths in the construction industry, yet this hazard can be readily eliminated with the proper planning, training and equipment,” said Covello. “Roof Kings must take ongoing corrective action to effectively prevent fall hazards before one of its employees is needlessly killed or injured.”

 

The agency also identified the following hazards which put Roof Kings’ employees at risk of:

 

  • Eye and face injuries while using pneumatic nail guns without proper eye protection.
  • Being struck by roofing materials dropped more than 20 feet from the building.
  • Electric shock and burns from ungrounded power tools, an ungrounded electrical outlet and frayed and misused power cords.
  • Exposure to lead contaminants and inadequate training about lead hazards.

 

As a result of its findings, OSHA has cited Roof Kings for three willful, one repeat and nine serious violations of workplace safety standards. Proposed fines for these violations total $124,960. The citations can be viewed here.

 

Roof Kings was given 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet 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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Tower MSA Partnership with American Airlines and PRIUM Yields Legacy Claim Settlements

In a widely acclaimed presentation at the recent 2016 National Workers Compensation and Disability Conference, Jennifer Saddy, Workers’ Compensation Director for American Airlines and Mark Pew, Senior Vice President of PRIUM, detailed the successful cooperation among American, PRIUM and Tower MSA to reduce pharmacy costs, litigation referrals and Medicare Set Aside costs ultimately leading to significant claim settlements.  Tower MSA is grateful to Jennifer and Mark for highlighting how Tower MSA’s Identification, Intervention and Involvement services were a key contribution to the success of this legacy claim reduction program.

 

For more information on American’s program please read the Risk & Insurance article Make a Decision and Move the Needle: American Airlines needed to take aggressive action to resolve 6,000 lingering workers’ compensation claims.

 

 

For more information on Tower MSA’s legacy claim reduction services please contact us at 888.331.4941 or info@towermsa.com.

 

 

Author: Daniel Anders, Tower MSA Partners

 

Missouri Worker Crushed to Death; Employer Fined

A 57-year-old Missouri maintenance worker was crushed fatally by a 4,000 pound machine part while performing maintenance inside of a sand core machine at a Warrensburg aluminum foundry.

 
An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found his employer, Stahl Specialty Company, did not use lockout devices and other machine safety procedures to prevent unintentional movement of the part – known as a ram – while the worker was inside the machine. OSHA cited the company for one repeated and five serious safety violations on July 29, after the agency completed its investigation into the Feb. 15, 2016, death.

 

While investigating the fatality OSHA found Stahl Specialty Company:

 

  • Failed to isolate all sources of energy in or to the equipment.
  • Did not protect employees from unexpected machine movements during maintenance.
  • Lacked machine-specific lockout procedures.
  • Failed to adequately train workers on proper lockout procedures.
  • Failed to coordinate lockout procedures with an outside contractor.
  • Did not correct illegible markings on a crane pendant control box.

 

Proposed penalties total $105,000. View citations here.
Based in Kingsville, Stahl Specialty Company was provided 15 business days from receipt of its citations and 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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Insurer Placed Into Conservation Order

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced recently that CastlePoint National Insurance Company (CastlePoint), the sole remaining insurance company member of the Tower Group, was placed into conservation by order of the San Francisco Superior Court to protect policyholders and injured workers covered under policies issued by CastlePoint and the other member companies of the Tower Group.

 

Immediately after being appointed Conservator of CastlePoint, the Commissioner filed a motion seeking approval of a Conservation & Liquidation Plan for CastlePoint to further protect policyholders by deconsolidating CastlePoint from the Tower Group and providing for transactions that will bring in more than $200 million in new value for the benefit of policyholders and claimants.

 

In addition to bringing in substantial new value for the policyholders, the plan will also establish an efficient and orderly process for liquidating CastlePoint by ensuring that the Insurance Guaranty Funds around the country can assume responsibility for administering and paying CastlePoint’s insurance claims without disruption when the Court issues a final liquidation order.

 

During the initial conservation phase there should be no disruption or delay in the delivery of workers compensation benefits to injured workers and other claims covered under CastlePoint policies.

 

 

Troubles Began in 2013

 

The Tower Group’s troubles started emerging during 2013.

 

Prior to that, Tower grew steadily by acquiring a series of smaller insurers, but Tower’s prior management was not effective in integrating those companies.

 

In October 2013 the Tower Group announced that it had deficiencies of nearly $400 million in its aggregate policyholder loss reserves. That situation was compounded by accounting errors that resulted in the parent company, Tower Group International, Ltd., withdrawing its previously filed consolidated financial statements for 2011 and 2012.

 

In September 2014, the Tower Group was acquired by ACP Re, a Bermuda reinsurer with ownership aligned with AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. and National General Holdings Corp. While that acquisition substantially improved Tower’s situation by migrating policy and claims administration to more reliable data systems at AmTrust and National General, the volatility and deterioration of the pre-acquisition claims continued unabated through 2015. By the end of 2015, the Tower Group reported additional loss reserve deficiencies well above $400 million.

 

By that time the California Department of Insurance was already working closely with other regulators around the country and the owners of ACP Re to formulate a plan to address the situation at the Tower Group. Tower was made up of 10 insurance companies domiciled in six states that operated on a largely consolidated financial basis through an intercompany reinsurance pooling arrangement. The situation presented particular challenges in the resolution of Tower’s financial distress.

 

Recently, the department, in close coordination with fellow regulators in Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Florida, and New York, formulated a plan with the owners of ACP Re and other related parties to consolidate the entire Tower Group into a single company – CastlePoint National Insurance Company, a California domiciled insurer– so that policyholders of the entire Tower Group of insurance companies could be protected in single legal proceedings here in California.

 

The merger and consolidation of the other insurance companies into CastlePoint was completed only days before the Commissioner placed CastlePoint into conservation.

 

 

 

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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Pennsylvania Employer Exposed Some Workers to Asbestos

Twice in about a month, United States Steel Corp. gave seven employees tasks that exposed them to asbestos, a widely recognized hazard associated with serious and fatal health risks including lung cancer, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has found.

 
During the first week of February 2016, at the company’s coke production facility in Pittsburgh, five workers removed and replaced packing material containing asbestos at the direction of the company. In March 2016, OSHA found two other employees had burned and removed a rotted section of expansion pipe at the company’s direction. The pipe later tested positive for asbestos.

 

This is the second time since 2011, that OSHA has cited U.S. Steel Corp. for exposing employees to asbestos hazards.

 

Responding to an employee complaint, OSHA opened an inspection on March 16, 2016, and identified 10 violations for which U.S. Steel Corp. faces $170,000 in penalties.

 

Inspectors found the company failed – as it did in 2011 – to establish a regulated area and inform employees of the presence of asbestos-containing material, conduct initial employee monitoring and ensure a negative exposure assessment, implement specific engineering controls and designate a qualified person to oversee the work and issued repeat citations. In addition, the employer used compressed air improperly in maintenance and repair operations, did not provide employee training or utilize appropriate containment and disposal methods.

 

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

 

To view the citations:

http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/UnitedStatesSteelCorporation_1132928.pdf

 

 

 

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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Washington State Employer Sunk with Major Fine

A marine terminal operator in Seattle is facing a $448,200 fine from the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) for failing to correct serious worker health hazards for which it was previously cited. The fine is one of L&I’s largest in recent years.

 

In an inspection at Seattle Bulk Shipping Inc.’s Harbor Island facility, L&I found that the company failed to correct serious violations that it was cited for last year, leaving workers exposed to serious hazards for more than a year.

 

The company performs several operations at the facility including transferring large quantities of highly flammable ethanol fuel from rail cars to tanker trucks, loading grain on rail cars and transferring it between trucks.

 

L&I’s follow-up inspection found that Seattle Bulk Shipping failed to correct a “confined space” violation it was cited for in 2015. The employer did not develop an adequate confined space entry program to protect employees who work around or inside grain pits or other confined spaces. Without safety precautions, confined spaces can be deadly to workers and would-be rescuers. Failure to correct this serious violation carries a penalty of $324,000.

 

The company was also cited for a second violation that hadn’t been corrected for failing to provide an approved emergency eyewash station for workers who transfer ethanol from rail cars and tanker trucks. Ethanol is a strong irritant in addition to being highly flammable; without an eyewash station, workers could suffer serious eye injuries. Failure to correct this violation carries a penalty of $108,000.

 

The employer was cited for three additional serious violations related to emergency procedures for potential ethanol release and confined space rescue. Each of those violations has a $5,400 penalty.

 
Investigation Began Following Worker Injury

 

L&I began investigating the company in 2014, when a worker was hospitalized after falling into an underground grain storage pit.

 

After comprehensive safety and health inspections, the company was ultimately cited for more than 50 workplace violations and fined $424,850. Those violations are currently under appeal. The company is considered a severe violator, which means it is subject to follow-up inspections to determine if the conditions still exist.

 

Seattle Bulk Shipping was given 15 business days to appeal the violations.

 

Penalty money paid in connection with a citation is placed in the workers compensation supplemental pension fund, helping workers and families of those who have died on the job.

 

 

 

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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Broadspire CEO Danielle Lisenbey Named NYCA Claim Executive of Year And Other News Tidbits

Broadspire® CEO Danielle Lisenbey Named NYCA Claim Executive of Year

 

ATLANTA (Dec. 1, 2016) – Danielle Lisenbey

Broadspire® president and CEO, has been named Claim Executive of the Year by the New York Claim Association, Inc. (NYCA). The 2016 NYCA Holiday Dinner Gala will be held in her honor Dec. 10 at the Harvard Club of New York.

 

Read more…

 

 

New Chairman of the Board Elected at Ringler

 

Ringler, the nation’s largest settlement planning company in the nation, is pleased to announce that the Ringler Board of Directors has elected Brian M. Farrell, Jr., Chairman in the company’s succession plan, as outgoing Chairman Ross Duncan retires from the Board.

 

Read more…

 

 

Four innovative models rein in pharma costs

 

Total spending on medications in the United States reached $310 billion in 2015 on an estimated net price basis, up 8.5% from 2014, according to a recent IMS Health study.Specialty drug spending reached $121 billion on a net price basis, up more than 15% from 2014.

 

Read more…

 

 

Longer Medicare set-aside waits seen as new contractor sought

 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services call for contractor bids to review workers compensation Medicare set-aside accounts could result in longer wait times to complete such reviews, experts say.

 

Read more…

 

 

Jets’ Brandon Marshall: Pain pills killed memories of 3-TD game

 

New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall barely remembers one of the most productive games of his NFL career. Speaking to San Francisco Bay Area reporters via conference call Wednesday, Marshall said his memories of his three-touchdown game against the 49ers in 2014 were fuzzy, at best.

 

Read more…

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

 

©2016 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

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

 

California’s OAL Approves DWC’s Final Version of Treatment Schedule

The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) has approved the California Division of Workers Compensation’s (DWC) final version of the Medical Treatment Utilization Schedule (MTUS) regulations that updates the Chronic Pain Medical Treatment Guidelines and adopts Opioids Treatment Guidelines.

 
Following national reports of opioid misuse, DWC proposed issuing guidelines and began the process with a forum for public comment in 2014.

 

The guidelines that have been added to the MTUS provide best practices in appropriately treating injured workers while also enhancing safety in using these medications to manage pain.

 

“We welcome this update and addition to the MTUS. The information in these Guidelines should aid in the provision of safer and more effective care for California’s injured workers,” said DWC Executive Medical Director Dr. Raymond Meister.

 

The changes to the MTUS Chronic Pain Medical Treatment Guidelines are set forth in section 9792.24.2, the Opioids Treatment Guidelines are set forth in section 9792.24.4, and the clarifying changes to the meaning of chronic pain are set forth in section 9792.23(b)(1) of the California Code of Regulations. The MTUS regulations went into effect on July 28, 2016 and will apply to any treatment requests made on or after July 29, 2016.

 

Christine Baker, director of the Department of Industrial Relations, said, “These guidelines are an important step toward improving appropriate and safe care for workers.”

 

DWC Acting Administrative Director George Parisotto added, “DWC will move forward shortly to initiate the process to update all of the current MTUS chapters. This process will include new chapters for chronic pain and opioids. Regardless, the new Chronic Pain Medical Treatment Guidelines and Opioids Treatment Guidelines should be consulted and relied upon when making treatment requests and determining the medical necessity of such requests.”

 

The final regulations are posted on the DWC website.

 

 

 

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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