Health Wonkery - At Health Business Blog, David Williams hosts a concise compendium of assorted health policy news at this week's Health Wonk Review. He notes that judging by the quality and quantity of entries received for this edition, it's a wonderful time to be a wonk. These bi-weekly digests are a good way to keep current on healthcare trends - important, given that the medical portion of comp is now accounting for more than half of every claim dollar.
OSHA's residential fall protection upheld in court challenge - the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit backed OSHA in a court challenge to its directive to require fall protection measures for residential construction. The directive faced a challenge by the National Roofing Contractors Association's (NRCA), which sought to maintain an option for residential construction to use alternative protection measures that bypassed some fall protection requirements. Falls are the number one cause of fatalities in construction. BLS shows that about 40 workers are killed each year as a result of falls from residential roofs. "One-third of those deaths represent Latino workers, who often lack sufficient access to safety information and protections. Latino workers comprise more than one-third of all construction employees."
Trucking & misclassification - The National Conference of Insurance Legislators adopted the Trucking and Messenger Courier Industries Workers' Compensation Insurance Model Act to address employee misclassification. It would establish six standards, and employees that do not meet the standards would be considered employees. There was wide participation in formulating the standards. Parties offering input to the model law included state insurance and workers' comp regulators, American Insurance Association (AIA), American Trucking Associations (ATA), Dart Transit Company, FedEx, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Messenger Courier Association of America (MCAA), National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), National Employment Law Project (NELP), Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), and United Parcel Service (UPS).
Social media - at Legal Talk Network, two respected & knowledgeable workers comp attorneys - Alan Pierce and Jon Gelman - join forces in a half hour podcast on Privacy, Clients and Social Media. Even if you aren't an attorney, this is worth a listen. See Gelman's related article: Facebook Becomes a Questionable Friend of Workers' Compensation.
WC rate relief? - MarketScout reports that the commercial market is hardening, with workers comp rates either flat or rising. That is borne out in Massachusetts, where a deal was struck to keep rates flat until 2012. This puts a halt to the long-term trend of rate decreases in MA.
More transparency for OSHA rules process - Celeste Monforton at The Pump Handle calls the Obama administration on the carpet for a lack of transparency in safety rulemaking when it comes to meetings with industry representatives. "The President's own Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) has hosted two meetings with industry representatives who are opposed to an OSHA regulation on crystalline silica, but OIRA fails to disclose these meetings on its website (screenshot 4/11/11.) This is the second time in as many occasions that this OMB office has failed the transparency test when it comes to extra-curricular meetings on OSHA rules. OIRA did the same thing last summer on OSHA's proposed minor change to its injury recording log. Others have identified even more serious infractions by OIRA, but have yet to receive a response from the White House."
Reality TV - While we've been joshing about upcoming fictional portrayals of workers comp on TV, Roberto Ceniceros at Comp Time points us to an interesting case of reality TV catching mining safety violations in action. A spike TV program about West Virginia coal mining - created by the same folks who do the "dangerous jobs" series - revealed violations that prompted citations from Mine Safety and Health Administration inspectors. It's an interesting story - Roberto offers the full scoop complete with links.
Legal matters - At LexisNexis Larson's Spotlight offers another round of Five Recent Cases You Should Know About, with cases spanning the Going and Coming Rule, heat-related illness, a COPD claim, and more.
Kudos to NAIC - National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) 2010 Annual Report Pillars of Strength offers "a testimony to the fundamental strength of our national system of state-based insurance regulation." NAIC has been actively involved in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including the creation of Medical Loss Ratios, a rate review process, and working with federal and state authorities to establish health care exchanges. The organization has also been active in financial regulatory reform, including a Solvency Modernization Initiative to update US insurance solvency framework, market regulation, and more. NAIC is also noted for its excellent consumer information and fraud awareness initiatives. This includes a great insurance primer for for owners of small companies and home-based businesses: Insure U for Small Business.
Of note - HR Daily Advisor features a great article on six ways attorneys will attack your investigation - not workers comp specific, but a good backgrounder of any potentially litigious employment situation.