November 2003 Archives

November 24, 2003


Now it's Schwarzenegger's turn to enter workers comp fight
"Every recent governor has declared his steadfast intention to reform workers' comp, lowering costs to employers and bringing more equity to disabled workers. None has succeeded; indeed, most of the legislation purporting to improve the situation has actually made it worse, most infamously an overhaul in the early 1990s that eventually led to more than a doubling of costs. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the latest to claim that he will reform workers' comp in California for all the usual reasons."

California fights tribe's workers comp plan
"With sky-high workers' compensation costs laying waste to California's business climate, state officials are fighting an Indian tribe that sold hundreds of companies an inexpensive alternative to workers' comp."

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November 20, 2003


OSHA's e-Tools are a good online training resource for employers. The modules are interactive and illustrated, and currently cover a range of more than 30 industry-specific safety topics. including two in Spanish. Some of the newest additions include baggage handling, computer workstations, machine guarding and Legionaire's disease.

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November 18, 2003


The likelihood of contracting hepatitis C from a single, contaminated needle stick is small, perhaps 2 percent or lower. But the number of accidental needle sticks and other skin punctures each year is high - 380,000 to 600,000, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Still, many workers have little hope of getting their treatments or doctor visits covered - much less lost wages - when hepatitis C renders them disabled.

The problem: a patchwork system of state workers compensation laws that were created to deal with broken bones, not hepatitis C.

"The worker compensation system does not effectively deal with occupational illness," said Bill Borwegen, safety director for the Service Employees International Union. "It needs to be totally reformed." - More -

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November 13, 2003


An interesting thing happened in Nevada today. And it may eventually affect employers around the rest of the country, especially in Massachusetts.

Workers' compensation is amazing. It's very stable in that every employee in the nation is covered by one form of it or another (except some of those in Texas; but we'll write about that at another time).

But it's also a very fluid social engineering concept because every state has its own version of the law. Fifty states, fifty laws.

Which brings us back to Nevada. The state, like most other states in the nation, is represented by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) for purposes of rate filing. Some states, like Massachusetts, have their own "Bureaus" that represent insurers in the state and file rate request changes with their respective Divisions of Insurance.

Today, Nevada's Commissioner of Insurance approved a rate filing request of the NCCI, and for most Nevada employers this will a mean a reduction in their next workers' compensation premium of about 12.3%.

But the really interesting thing involves what is known as the ARAP. In Massachusetts, that stands for All Risk Adjustment Program, and is a kind of Experience Modification surcharge on top of the regular Experience Modification. In the rest of the country, ARAP stands for Assigned Risk Adjustment Program. Here's what the difference is: in Massachusetts every emplpoyer, whether in the Assigned Risk Pool or the voluntary market, is eligible for an ARAP surcharge. In the rest of the country, the surcharge only applies to employers in the Pool. But regardless of where an employer happens to be, the maximum surcharge is 49%. That is, until today.

Hidden in the Nevada filing is a reduction in the maximum ARAP surcharge, from 49% to 25%. This is the main reason why overall rates in Nevada's Assigned Risk Pool will drop by approximately 15%.

We're going to watch further NCCI rate filings to see if the ARAP maximum surcharge is reduced in other states, as well. In addition, we'll continue to lobby on behalf of Massachusetts employers to have the ARAP surcharge apply only to employers in the Pool. And we'll keep you informed.

Peace to all.

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November 6, 2003


We've added a few new links to our "blogroll." That's a sidebar of weblog links, for all of you weblog rookies ;-)

Jottings by an Employer's Lawyer is the latest addition. It's maintained by Michael W. Fox, a Texas attorney who specializes in labor and employment law. He offers some interesting news and pointers to regional and national issues. in the workplace and in employment law.

For the labor point of view, check out Confined Spaces by long-time labor leader Jordan Barab. Not surprisingly, his blog has a heavy focus on health & safety issues - he's a veteran safety consultant and served as a special assistant at OSHA.

Know of any other weblogs about workers compensation-related issues out there that we should add to our list? Weblogs have taken much of the on-line community by storm, and there's a growing roster of good health-care and legal blogs out there now...but there aren't too many insurance blogs yet!

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November 3, 2003


The entire Nov. 3 issue of Business Insurance is available online this week - viewable and printable in a PDF version. This was in response to the fires in southern California which were expected to cause a delay deliveries to some subscribers. One of the front page stories reports on the fire from an insurance perspective. And worth checking out: the winners in BI's 3rd annual "Best of the Web" feature. Our industry has hardly been an online pacesetter, but perhaps we are seeing some progress. By the way, the BI site is worth a click in your weekly industry web surfing - it features fresh insurance news links daily.

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