News Bulletins

In regulatory news:

OSHA announced that Loren Sweatt joined the agency on late last month as OSHA’s deputy assistant secretary. Sweatt previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives where she was a Senior Policy Advisor at the Committee on Education and the Workforce for the last 15 years. In this role, Sweatt handled workplace safety issues before the Committee to include OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Read more in OSHA’s QuickTakes here.

In medical news:

Risk & Insurance addressed how new research suggests that obesity can affect ergonomic risks in the workplace.

Read more here.

In neighboring news:

OSHA cited a North Florida roofing contractor for over $1 million in fines for failing to protect its workers from fall risks. OSHA cited Great White Construction Inc., based in Jacksonville, with 14 violations and proposed penalties totaling $1,523,710. Given the employer’s extensive prior history of violations and OSHA’s egregious citation policy, the agency issued 11 separate willful citations for failing to protect employees from fall hazards. OSHA also cited the company for three repeat violations for failing to ensure employees used eye protection while operating nail guns and for ladders used to access roof sites, again exposing employees to fall hazards.

Read more via OSHA here.

In safety news:

OSHA will hold the second of two meetings August 28th, 2017, in New Orleans, to continue the discussion on the future direction of the agency’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). The discussion will include a review of the July 17th, 2017, meeting along with comments and suggestions from the public on potential avenues for action. The meeting will be held from 1-4 PM in Great Hall B of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. To attend, register by August 23rd, 2017. OSHA adopted the VPP on July 2, 1982; the program emphasizes cooperative action among government, industry, and labor to address worker safety and health issues and expand worker protection.

Registration and more info here.

In medical news:

New research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that as many as four out of five people who sought prescriptions for medical marijuana did so for pain management, however, there is currently little evidence showing plant-based cannabis products to be effective for most chronic pain. The team led by Shannon Nugent, PhD, of the VA Portland Health Care System in Oregon reviewed data from 27 chronic pain randomized trials, finding “limited evidence” that cannabis reduced neuropathic pain in some patients, but “insufficient evidence” that cannabis was beneficial for other types of pain.

Read more via MedPage Today here.

In industry news:

PropertyCasualty 360 profiled the workers’ comp program successes of Butterball LLC, the poultry company famous for producing Thanksgiving turkeys. The senior director of corporate risk management for Butterball, Brian Rodgers, explains in the piece that the Butterball safety process “seeks to embody transformational safety culture change” from the Reactive model (which relies mostly on compliance as the goal) to the Dependent model (which begins the process of management commitment and adherence to rules and regulations) to the Independent phase (which is heavily weighted around personal values, practice and habits), to the ultimate goal of the Interdependent model. This end stage “Interdependent model” aligns the individual to teams of employees where each feels a sense of ownership for safety.

Read more here.

In national news:

President Trump officially declared the opioid crisis a national emergency, after neglecting to do so in a speech on August 8th about an interim White House commission report on the issue. The declaration was the commission’s main recommendation and may free up additional federal funds for prevention of treatment of opioid addiction. “The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I am saying, officially, right now, it is an emergency. It’s a national emergency,” Trump said. “We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis. It is a serious problem the likes of which we have never had.”

More from CNN here.

In economic news:

From the second quarter of 2016 to the second quarter of 2017, productivity increased 1.2 percent, reflecting a 2.7-percent increase in output and a 1.5-percent increase in hours worked, according to new Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers. Real hourly compensation decreased 0.9 percent over the same period.

Read more here.

In industry news:

Travelers recently reported a 30 percent reduction in the use of opioids among its more than 500,000 claimants since 2015. The company attributes the reduction to the use of its Early Severity Predictor model. The model identifies the likelihood that someone will develop chronic pain – a leading cause of opioid dependency. Travelers shares the Early Severity Predictor results with the injured employee’s physician to encourage the use of alternative therapies like physical therapy. Since January 2016, surgeries for the company’s workers compensation cases have fallen by 25 percent, and those who received alternative treatment methods recovered and returned to work 10 percent faster than those who did not.

Read more via WorkCompWire here.

In local news:

LWCC recently announced the promotion of Brent Toups as vice president of policyholder services and agency relations. Toups has over 19 years of industry experience with LWCC gaining expertise in the fields of premium audit, agency relations and underwriting. Toups joined the company in 1998 as a premium auditor then transitioned into the agency relations department where he developed important relationships with key agent partners. After excelling in this department, Toups was promoted to business unit manager of large accounts in 2012 overseeing the underwriting team responsible for large accounts and USL&H accounts. In 2014, Toups was then promoted to assistant vice president of underwriting overseeing all underwriting units and premium audit. A native of Thibodaux, Toups earned a Bachelor of Science in accounting in 1996 and Master of Business Administration in 2002 both from Nicholls State University.

More info via LWCC here.