OSHA fines increasing for the first time in 25 years

Nov 14 2015

Workplaces across the United States have become much safer over the past half-century largely because of regulation and regulating agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In addition to crafting safety policies and conducting inspections, OSHA can businesses for safety violations, particularly those that have led to workplace accidents and deaths. The issuance of fines is an important enforcement mechanism because even if a company doesn’t care about worker safety, it almost certainly cares about its bottom line. That being said, the fines companies currently face are far less painful than they once would have been, because OSHA has…

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U.S. lawmakers ask for federal oversight of workers’ compensation

Nov 05 2015

Our last two posts focused on detrimental changes to workers’ compensation laws and policies in various states. In recent years, more than 30 states have enacted changes that make it more difficult for injured workers to qualify for workers’ compensation and have lowered benefits for those who do qualify. Two states have gone so far as to allow employers to opt out of state-run workers’ compensation and implement their own plans instead. Many of these alternative programs save companies money by giving them far more control over how, when and if injury claims get compensated. In response to this disturbing…

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Workers’ compensation laws under threat in many states: Part II

Oct 22 2015

Last week, we began a conversation about a troubling trend seen in parts of the United States. Although workers’ rights activists have fought to implement and maintain workers’ compensation programs for much of the past century, these programs are being abandoned in some states to be replaced by company-sponsored alternatives that provide far less protection and coverage. The change has not yet come to Colorado, but the movement to “opt out” of traditional workers’ compensation plans is quickly spreading around the country. It is often financially backed by large corporations eager to reduce their workers’ compensation costs and liabilities. Recently,…

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Obamacare may lead to more soft tissue workers’ comp claims in Colorado

Oct 20 2015

A recent study finds that soft tissue conditions approved for workers’ comp coverage may increase by almost a third due to Obamacare. The passage of Obamacare has led to many changes, including an increase in the use of flat-fee health plans. These plans allow health care providers to receive a set amount of compensation for each patient, regardless of the type of care provided. This is in contrast to the fee-for-service system, which compensates physicians based on the “individual service rendered.” A recent study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) states that the increase in flat-fee plans will likely…

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Workers’ compensation laws under threat in many states: Part I

Oct 17 2015

Most people don’t realize that workers’ compensation in the United States has only been around for about 100 years. Major industrial accidents and devastating fires at the beginning of the 20th century led workers and activists to demand safer workplaces and compensation for on-the-job injuries. Since then, the workers’ compensation systems set up in states across America have been an invaluable resource for injured workers and their families. Are these systems perfect? No. But most would agree that they are far superior to what employees faced before workers’ compensation came along. Sadly, major corporations now seem to be in collusion…

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Can I sue my employer for a workplace injury?

Oct 02 2015

Workplace injury can have a tremendous impact on a worker’s life, in terms of finances, money, family life—really in every area. The more serious the injury, of course, the more serious the impact. Fortunately, workers’ compensation can provide much needed support for an injured worker. That being said, workers’ compensation isn’t always adequate when it comes to providing a remedy to workplace injury. Unfortunately, in most cases workers’ compensation is the sole remedy available to an injured worker. This rule is rooted in the nature of the workers’ compensation system itself, which is built upon a compromise. In exchange for…

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Temperatures still high in California; outdoor workers at risk

Oct 01 2015

Although fall is almost here, California is still experiencing high temperatures much of the time. While this hot weather seemingly exacerbates the effects of the forest fires and drought plaguing parts of the state, the temperatures also pose a threat to workers who primarily work outdoors. In mid September, the National Weather Service issued excessive heat warnings and heat advisories. In response, the state branch of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) reminded employers to protect their workers by following protocols for heat regulation. The agency said it also plans to focus on inspections of outdoor worksites to ensure…

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Was employer negligence a factor in fatal construction accident?

Sep 18 2015

Workplaces have certainly become less hazardous over the years. Most office workers, for instance, don’t need to worry much about workplace safety. That being said, there are plenty of other types of work that will always be dangerous, including and especially construction work. At a construction site, a clear hierarchy exists, and those at the top are tasked with ensuring safety compliance. Job foremen and general contractors must ensure that workers are wearing/using required safety equipment and following protocols. Even if some workers are not making personal safety a priority, construction accidents can still be prevented if those in charge…

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Fighting skepticism after filing a workers’ compensation claim

Sep 16 2015

Even when things go smoothly, workers’ compensation claims can be frustrating. You need to report a specific accident or cumulative injury to the appropriate person at your job, then wade through mounds of paperwork and answer endless questions. After that, you may still be waiting for your claim to be processed. Unfortunately, the workers’ compensation claims process does not always go smoothly, which means the headaches and frustrations are even worse. Why is it often so difficult to get compensation for a work-related injury? In many cases, insurance companies are responsible. Insurance companies are most profitable when they can deny…

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Industrial robots may soon work safely alongside human workers

Sep 03 2015

The use of robots in manufacturing and other industrial jobs has been controversial. On one hand, many factory workers have lost their jobs because robots can do the same work more quickly, more accurately and for less money. On the other hand, robots can do work that may be too dangerous for humans or too taxing on the body. They also tend to lower costs of manufactured products for consumers. Like it or not, robots are here to stay. But as manufacturing becomes more sophisticated, companies are realizing that they cannot completely remove humans from the process. There are just…

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