News Bulletins

In national news:

Oxycontin maker Purdue Pharma is proposing a global settlement in an attempt to end state investigations and lawsuits (including several in Louisiana) over the U.S. opioid epidemic, according to a report from Bloomberg. Purdue’s lawyers raised the prospect with several southern-state attorneys general who haven’t sued the company, as they try to gauge interest for a more wide-ranging deal.

Read more here.

In national news:

The federal government has paid more than $17 million in taxpayer money over the last 20 years to resolve claims of sexual harassment, overtime pay disputes and other workplace violations filed by employees of Congress. The Office of Compliance released the numbers amid a wave of revelations of sexual misconduct in the worlds of entertainment, business and politics that consumed Capitol Hill this past week. The independent office doesn’t break the figures down, so the public is unable to determine how many of the 264 settlements and awards dealt specifically with cases of sexual misconduct brought by legislative branch employees. The office was created in 1995 by the Congressional Accountability Act.

Read more via Claims Journal here.

In economic news:

The number of startup firms (i.e. firms that are 1 year old or newer) rose to 415,226 in the year ended March 2017, according to new Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers. The number of new firms has recovered from a low of 326,091 in 2010. For the last 2 years, the number of startups has been above the 1994–2017 average of about 400,000.

Read more here.

In national news:

The U.S. Department of Labor, under DOL Secretary Alexander Acosta, has released its five-year strategic plan including OSHA’s strategic objectives for the next four years. Key points are similar to those under the Obama administration regional and national emphasis programs, enforcement and deterrence, and targeting of “bad actors and recalcitrant employers.” There is also a new emphasis on increasing enrollment in the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). According to Fred Hosier of Safety News Alert though, the change in priorities has to do with tone, specifically, less use of “public shaming” of employers who violate safety standards via news releases.

Read more here.

In tech news:

A new study from EMPLOYERS found that nearly one in four (23 percent) small business owners believe more online or self-service tools would enable their carrier to provide a better policyholder experience. Better communication and faster claims resolution also topped the list of desired improvements business owners want.

More info here.

In industry news:

MedRisk has published “Telerehabilitation & the Injured Worker: A Practical Guide,” a white paper that explores physical therapy in the age of telemedicine and its practical application for the workers’ compensation industry. The white paper examines the use of telerehabilitation for musculoskeletal injuries. Video conferencing, virtual home-exercise supervision and remote patient monitoring can be used to supplement traditional in-clinic care.

Read more here.

In safety news:

OSHA has released four new fact sheets on protecting workers from common hazards found in the shipyard and maritime industries. The subjects covered by the four fact sheets are pedestal crane safety, housekeeping safety, fire and rescue in shipyard employment, and safe baggage handling.

In economic news:

Among the 23 occupational groups, 6 had at least 64,000 injuries and illnesses resulting in days away from work in private industry in 2016, according to new Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers. Injuries and illnesses to workers in these occupational groups accounted for more than 60 percent of the 892,270 days-away-from-work cases. Transportation and material moving occupations had the highest number of cases (178,620) in 2016.

More info here.

In national news:

A new piece in Business Insurance looks into toxic water and how its dangers can affect employees long after professional cleanup ends.

Read it here.

In safety news:

OSHA issued a final rule that sets November 10th, 2018, as the date employers in the construction industry must comply with a requirement for crane operator certification. The final rule became effective on November 9th, 2017. After issuing the final cranes and derricks rule in August 2010, stakeholders expressed concerns regarding the rule’s certification requirements. In response, the agency published a separate final rule in September 2014, extending by three years the crane operator certification and competency requirements. The additional one-year extension provides more time for OSHA to complete a rulemaking to address stakeholder concerns related to the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard.

Read more here.