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.

 

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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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Illinois Employer in Hot Water Once Again

For the second time in two years, federal safety inspectors found workers risking amputations and other serious injuries as they fed parts by hand into an unguarded mechanical press brake at an Illinois trailer manufacturing plant.

 
They also found the company failed to protect welders and other employees from harmful ray emissions during welding operations.

 
On Aug. 5, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued one willful, one repeated and five serious violations to the Newark-based Dierzen Sales LTD. Inspectors found the violations in a follow-up inspection in March 2016. The company faces $153,791 in proposed fines.

 

“Dierzen Sales continues to maintain an environment where employees are exposed routinely to machinery hazards likely to cause amputation,” said Jake Scott, area director of OSHA’s North Aurora office. “The company needs to re-evaluate its safety and health programs to ensure workers are provided with the equipment and the training they need to prevent injury on the job.”

 

OSHA’s inspection found the employer failed to:

 

  • Evaluate powered industrial vehicle operators every three years as required. The company also altered powered industrial vehicles.
  • Promptly remove scrap metal from floors, causing trip and fall hazards.
  • Cover electrical boxes and openings.
    View the current citations here.

 

Dierzen was given 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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Cal/OSHA Reacts to Death of Farmworker

Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum recently commented on Cal/OSHA’s ongoing investigation into a July farmworker death in Bakersfield, Ca.

 
According to Sum, “Cal/OSHA is investigating the tragic death of a farmworker reported last week in Bakersfield. In light of recent high temperatures, Cal/OSHA’s maximum enforcement of its Heat Illness Prevention Standard included 597 inspections of agriculture, construction, landscaping and other outdoor worksites this June and July. So far this year, we have issued 994 citations to 742 employers for heat-related violations which require corrective action to protect workers from heat illness.

 

“Cal/OSHA is also continuing its outreach, consultation and training for workers and employers on the importance of heat illness prevention.”

 

 

 

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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Ohio BWC Nets Seven June Comp Fraud Convictions

The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation recently reported that it netted seven convictions in June in criminal cases related to workers comp fraud.

 
Those convicted include child care center operators, skilled tradesmen and others who had lapsed policies, forged certificates of coverage or worked while receiving injured worker’s benefits.

 

As of June 30, BWC’s Special Investigations Department had secured 55 convictions this calendar year. June convictions include:

 

  • Walter Dappert, (Butler County) – The owner of Dappert Masonry Construction pleaded guilty June 8 to one count of workers compensation fraud, a fifth-degree felony. Investigators found he had forged a BWC certificate of coverage to show he had active coverage when, in fact, the policy had lapsed in 2010. A judge sentenced Dappert to three years community control, 40 hours of community service and restitution to BWC in the amount of $1,507. Dappert brought his BWC policy into compliance prior to sentencing.
  • Terry Shaver (Franklin County) – The Grove City man pleaded guilty June 8 to one count of workers compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, after investigators found him working for a pest control company while receiving injured worker’s benefits. A judge sentenced Shaver to 12 months’ probation and ordered him to pay $5,000 restitution to BWC by May 2017.
  • Karon Jones (Cuyahoga County) – The Cleveland-area child care center owner pleaded guilty June 13 in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas to a first-degree misdemeanor count of Attempted Obstructing Official Business after investigators found her coverage had lapsed from Jan. 1, 2010 through June 30, 2015. A judge ordered Jones to pay BWC $33,985 in restitution.
  • Tenora Edwards-Jones (Cuyahoga County) – The child care center owner pleaded guilty June 14 in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas to one count of Failure to Comply with the Law, a second-degree misdemeanor. Edwards-Jones had lapsed coverage at two day care centers in Cleveland Heights. Prior to her sentencing, she paid BWC $28,514 to bring both policies current.
  • Angelique Braxton (Franklin County) – The home health aide pleaded guilty June 15 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to a misdemeanor count of workers compensation fraud after she was found working for 20 months while collecting BWC benefits. She paid BWC $1,902 for its investigation and $37,962 in restitution.
  • Gary Miller (Fairfield County) – The Columbus area painter pleaded guilty June 23 to one count of workers compensation fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor, after investigators found he had forged a BWC certificate of coverage after his policy had lapsed. A judge in Fairfield County Municipal Court sentenced Miller to two years’ probation and ordered him to pay $732 in fines and restitution.
  • Brian DuVernay (Allen County) – The Lima-area man, owner of A Better Way Contracting, pleaded guilty June 24 to one count of Failure to Comply, a second-degree misdemeanor, after investigators found he hadn’t submitted payroll reports, causing his BWC policy to lapse. The Lima Municipal Court fined DuVernay $150 and warned that he would be jailed and face additional charges if he did not come into full compliance with BWC.

 

Additionally, a Northwest Ohio woman entered into a Hardin County Diversion Program in June in lieu of conviction after investigators found she had altered several BWC certificates of coverage to make them look current after they had lapsed.

 

Kathy S. Detwiler, owner of Detwiler Enterprises Inc., must participate in the program for one year, complete at least 160 hours of community service and abide by all regulations concerning BWC. Once completed, all charges will be dropped.

 

 

 

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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Saskatchewan WCB Notes Nearly $282M Surplus

Recently, the Saskatchewan (Canada) Workers Compensation Board (WCB) announced a $281.5 million surplus will be distributed to employers in 2016 as part of the 2015 surplus announced at its annual general meeting in May.

 
At the WCB’s 2015 year end, the funded position was 144.7 percent, which exceeded the 105 to 120 percent funding policy target range resulting in a surplus of $281.5 million. The surplus was slated to be distributed to eligible employers in two installments in July and December of 2016.

 

Chairperson Gordon Dobrowolsky said after seeking input from both worker and employer representatives, and weighing several factors, the Board made the decision to distribute 50 percent of the 2015 surplus to employers in July and the remaining 50 percent by the end of the year.

 

“As a Board, we are legislated to ensure the present and future financial security of the compensation system in our province,” Dobrowolsky said. “We carefully weighed our decision on behalf of both employers and injured workers by considering market uncertainties and investment return volatility, a funding policy review, cash flow requirements, economic uncertainty, and changes in accounting and actuarial standards as well as the potential impacts of the Committee of Review recommendations.”

 

Investment Income Plays Big Role

 

Dobrowolsky said the increase in the 2015 funded position is substantially due to investment income.

 
“We are pleased to see that there will be a distribution to employers, which will help grow the economy,” said Don Morgan, Minister of Labor Relations and Workplace Safety and Minister Responsible for the Workers Compensation Board. “WCB has done an excellent job managing their investments and we thank them for the work they do on behalf of the working women and men of Saskatchewan.”

 

Employers are eligible for the 2016 distribution if their net premiums were greater than their claims costs over the three-year period from 2012 to 2014. A three-year period was chosen to ensure employers were not disqualified based on one or two years of higher claim costs. The amount of the distribution that each eligible firm receives was determined based on their 2014 base premiums because 2014 is the most current year of assessed actual payroll.

 

The WCB’s funded position is impacted by the WCB’s investment performance, which fluctuates depending on world economic activity. The last similar surplus distribution from the WCB was in 2015 based on the 2014 funded position.

 

 

 

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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