Job Safety Archives

JULY 8, 2015: Today, the WCIRB released the California Medical Payment Development Up to 30 Years Post-Injury report examining California’s longer than average medical payout pattern. This WCIRB study analyzed data from approximately one million claims ($4.4 billion in medical payments) sorted into seven cohorts based on dates of injury and current medical treatment.

WCIRB researchers found that California has the most prolonged workers’ compensation treatment pattern in the country, and as claims mature, patterns of treatment evolve as prescriptions for narcotics and psychoactive drugs, treatment of chronic medical problems of aging that are unrelated to the acute injury, and complications caused by post-injury medical treatment all become more prevalent. Other observations from the report include:

  • 17% of the claims studied lasted three years or more, accounting for $1.5 billion (35%) of total medical payments.
  • The total share of prescription narcotics, especially Oxycontin, grew as claims developed over time. Additionally, shares of prescribed psychoactive drugs, such as sedative hypnotics, stimulants and anti-depressants increased with the age of the claim.
  • The share of payments for acute injuries (fractures, wounds, dislocations, sprains and strains) declined as claims aged. Conversely, the share of medical payments for chronic medical conditions, such as cardiac, respiratory and digestive problems increased as claims age.
  • Complications from medical care — a medical condition not likely associated with the initial injury — gradually increased with the age of the claim.
  • California does not have more hazardous employment, older workers, more severe injuries or worse medical conditions than other states. However, in California, medical treatment continues and claims remain open for a longer period than in other states.

Researchers also compared 20 to 30 year old California claims with a similar national cohort and found that all late-term claims have similar medical treatment patterns; however, nationally, a much greater share of injuries are resolved within three years of the date of injury. California is unique in that it allows a greater proportion of prolonged treatment and enables acute conditions to become chronic medical problems.

The complete report is available in the Research and Analysis section of the WCIRB website.

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Information Source:

unionadr_WCIRB-CA_logo

“This rule will save lives of construction workers. Unlike most general industry worksites, construction sites are continually evolving, with the number and characteristics of confined spaces changing as work progresses. This rule emphasizes training, continuous worksite evaluation and communication requirements to further protect workers’ safety and health.”

— Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. David Michaels

This standard will be effective August 3, 2015 – OSHA

INFORMATION SOURCE: OSHA, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR – MAY 18, 2015: Confined spaces – such as manholes, crawl spaces, and tanks – are not designed for continuous occupancy and are difficult to exit in the event of an emergency. People working in confined spaces face life-threatening hazards including toxic substances, electrocutions, explosions, and asphyxiation.

This webpage contains information on the new regulation, compliance assistance documents, and other resources OSHA has to help employers and workers understand the rule. OSHA will continue to publish new guidance products in the coming months, and will post them here.

Construction workers often perform tasks in confined spaces – work areas that (1) are large enough for an employee to enter, (2) have limited means of entry or exit, and (3) are not designed for continuous occupancy. These spaces can present physical and atmospheric hazards that can be prevented if addressed prior to entering the space to perform work. This page is a starting point for finding information about these spaces, the hazards they may present, and ways to safely work in them.

Standard

Compliance Assistance Materials

Federal Register Notices

Additional Information

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*Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA’s Directorate of Construction at (202) 693-2020 for assistance accessing PDF materials.

All other documents, that are not PDF materials or formatted for the web, are available as Microsoft Office® formats and videos and are noted accordingly. If additional assistance is needed with reading, reviewing or accessing these documents or any figures and illustrations, please also contact OSHA’s Directorate of Construction at (202) 693-2020.

**eBooks – EPUB is the most common format for e-Books. If you use a Sony Reader, a Nook, or an iPad you can download the EPUB file format. If you use a Kindle, you can download the MOBI file format.

 

SEPTEMBER 23, 2014: Last Friday, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued final rules making significant changes to its injury and illness recording and reporting regulations. The current rule requires employers to report workplace fatalities and hospitalization of three or more employees to OSHA. The new requirement mandates OSHA notification for every employee work-related hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye.

The new rule preserves the current requirement for reporting fatalities or multiple hospitalizations to OSHA within eight hours. OSHA will require reporting for the new hospitalization and other requirements within 24 hours of their occurrence. In addition to the existing toll-free telephone number, OSHA is establishing an online registry through OSHA’s website as an alternative means to provide the required notice.

Hospitalization is defined as formal admittance on an in-patient basis involving at least one overnight stay. Amputations are defined as traumatic loss of a limb or partial loss, whether or not bone loss is involved (including fingertip loss), with or without patient hospitalization. The hospitalization rules include employee admittances for work-related illnesses in addition to traumatic injuries. Injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents on public roads are exempted from the reporting requirement.

Employers may not be immediately aware of the reasons for such hospitalization, and the reporting times run from the moment the employer learns that the admittance is related to a workplace injury or illness. Hospitalizations that occur more than 24 hours after a workplace “incident” do not need to be reported to OSHA. In other words, if an employee is hospitalized and claims it is due to long-term exposure to a workplace contaminant, this would not be a reportable incident, although it may need to be included in the OSHA 300 injury and illness log report.

In some cases, employers suspect that claimed employee injuries or illnesses are not actually work-related. When such employees are hospitalized, the employer will not have time to conduct a thorough review of the circumstances, and in most cases will need to report the claimed work-related injury or illness to OSHA within the 24-hour time period. The new rules make no provision for corrected notice to OSHA if the hospitalization is later determined not to have been work-related, but employers can make corrections to the OSHA 300 log.

OSHA expects its notification burden under the new rules to rise from 4600 to 210,000 notices per year. In the past, notification of a fatality or multiple hospitalization guaranteed a response and usually a visit from an OSHA investigator. Given the broad expansion of these reporting requirements, the agency simply does not have the resources to investigate each individual employee hospitalization. Employers will not know what degree of follow-up will result from their reports. OSHA somewhat cryptically says that it will only follow up on reports where the hospitalization appears to indicate a remediable hazard.

The final rule also includes updates to the list of industries exempt from OSHA’s illness and injury record keeping requirements. Businesses exempt from these general requirements still must comply with the death and hospitalization notification requirements. The new rules become effective January 15, 2015. OSHA will issue notice of its new web portal for reporting between now and that date.

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Information courtesy of Jonathan Crotty and Charlotte Offerdahl, Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP

 

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