Looking Forward, Looking Back

Today’s post was shared by US Labor Department and comes from blog.dol.gov

There are some days you’ll never forget, and for me, today is one of them. It’s my last day as assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy, and, as expected, I’m experiencing mixed emotions. While excited about my next adventure, I’m sad to leave my talented and dedicated colleagues and friends at the department.

Kathy Martinez

Since assuming my position in 2009, I have had the privilege of spending my days surrounded by some of the most dedicated people I’ve ever met, and they have taught me so much. It’s not often that one gets to see the inner workings of policy development and how it translates into tangible outcomes with real, lasting impact on people’s lives. I am so proud to have been part of the team that helped implement Executive Order 13548 and the 2014 updates to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act — among many other policy efforts — that today are transforming the employment landscape for those of us with disabilities.

But there is another and more personal reason I’ve loved coming to work each day for the past five and a half years. And that’s because I have been able to do so fully. What do I mean by that? I mean that, as an employer, the department reflects the ideals inherent in the policies it puts forward, including those that help strengthen the American workforce through diversity. When I walked through the doors each morning, I knew that my diverse…

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Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Aside Accounts and Supplemental Coverage

When an injured worker is a Medicare beneficiary due to age or disability, a Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Aside (WCMSA) account will often be required as part of a settlement  of their workers’ compensation claim.  The funds in a WCMSA are set-aside in order to pay for future medical or prescription drug services related to the work related injury, illness, or disease that would normally be covered by Medicare. Once the funds in a WCMSA have been used appropriately, then Medicare can start paying for Medicare-covered services related to the work-related injury, illness, or disease. The WCMSA cannot be used to pay for any medical items or services that Medicare does not normally cover.

Workers’ compensation insurance provides 100% coverage of medical treatment for accepted medical conditions. Medicare, however, requires an 80/20 sharing of medical costs. Without a Medicare supplemental (also called “Medigap”) insurance policy, the injured worker would be required to pay significant co-pays and deductibles.  Supplemental insurance is not required by Medicare, but may be advisable to cover the cost sharing required by Medicare, especially if the beneficiary has other medical conditions that are not related to the work injury, illness or disease. However, the premiums for such supplemental coverage cannot be paid out of the WCMSA funds.

While Medicare does not provide coverage for prescription medications, WCMSA funds can be used to pay for medications related to the work injury, illness or disease. If there is a likelihood that the injured worker will exhaust the funds in their MSA, then purchasing a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan may be advisable to prevent the injured worker from having to pay full price for their medications once the MSA funds are exhausted. However, the financial benefit of having this coverage should be weighed against the cost of plan (2013 national average was $30.00 per month) since the MSA funds cannot be used to pay for the plan itself.

 

For more detailed information about workers’ compensation MSAs and supplemental coverage, visit www.Medicare.gov.

 

Are You Misclassifying Your Workers and Committing A Fraud?

To avoid misclassifying your workers follow these tips:

  • Don’t make assumptions. If you are a business owner you should consult a tax professional and an attorney to ensure you are complying with IRS and labor laws when hiring staff or contractors.
  • If contracting with staffing companies or labor brokers, make sure those agencies are properly classifying its workers as employees. Companies can be held responsible for labor violations of their contractors.
  • Consider filing a SS-8 Form (Determination of Worker Status) with the IRS and ask that agency to determine whether the worker is an employee or independent contractor.
  • Be aware that contractors set their own schedules and pricing, and perform the work as they see fit. If you want control over these areas, make sure you hire an employee.
  • Check the workers’ compensation policies of any subcontractor you hire. (Look out for “ghost policies,” which aren’t designed to cover known employees.)
  • Don’t rely on excuses such as “He only works a few days a week.” “She agreed to be an independent contractor.” “They use their own tools.” “He’s done this for so long he doesn’t need my supervision.”

Thanks to McClatchy DC!

 

Number of N.C. Work-Related Deaths Nearly Doubled in 2014

The number of workers killed last year on the job in North Carolina has nearly doubled according to the state Department of Labor. A total of 44 people were killed in work-related accidents, all but one of the workers was classified as male, and all of the deceased workers were classified as “laborers” by the Labor Department. In 2013, there were only 23 deaths.

Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry analyzed the deaths and found that many accidents occurred between 60 and 90 days on the job, and a few workers were killed on the first day of their employment. This is largely related to lack of proper safety training before starting construction jobs.

In order to combat this increasing statistic, Builders Mutual Insurance Company worked with Commissioner Berry to create public service announcements about common hazards on construction sites. These ads are aired on Univision, and will be aired through March of this year.

Original Article found here:  http://www.newsobserver.com/2015/01/22/4496586_number-of-nc-workers-killed-on.html#storylink=misearch

Deadliest Jobs in the U.S.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, lumberjacks, fishermen and pilots have the highest risk of death while working. Data collected in 2013 showed that for every 100,000 loggers over 80 were killed on the job; for every 100,000 fishermen over 60 were killed on the job; for every 100,000 pilots and flight engineers over 40 were killed on the job.

The rest of the top ten most dangers jobs (in order from greatest to least number of deaths on the job) are:

  1. extraction workers,
  2. roofers,
  3. refuse and recyclable material collectors,
  4. mining machine operators,
  5. driver/sales workers and truck drivers,
  6. farmers/ranchers, and
  7. electrical power-line installers and repairers.

Transportation accidents, falling, being struck by an object or equipment, and homicides are the most likely cause of fatalities. In the homicide category, cab drivers have the greatest risk, primarily because they are not properly trained to handle assaults.

Original post in the 1/28/215 Washington Post by Max Ehrenfreund

Help for Chronic Pain Patients

According to a recent news article by Rachel Noble Benner, a mental health counselor, chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts longer than three months. It affects more than 100 million sufferers in the United States alone, and for those who suffer from chronic pain caused by an illness or injury it may seem as if there is no end in sight to their misery.

Chronic pain is not merely one symptom or a limited experience like acute pain; it is usually accompanied by depression, fatigue, changes in appetite and trouble sleeping. It can hold sufferers back from wanting to socialize with family and friends, and it reduces their quality-of-life.

Chronic pain requires treatment by physicians using a holistic approach in order to relieve symptoms. Physical therapists should be able to reactivate injured muscles and retune a hyper-excited nervous system; exercise will help recover a patient’s nervous system by re-teaching nerves the difference between normal and harmful sensations, and counseling on a regular basis should help establish strengths, manage depression and anxiety, and develop relaxation techniques.

 

Original post in the Washington Post by Rachel Noble Benner

Reposted in News & Observer 1/20/15 http://bit.ly/1J3vquV

 

 

Medical Procedures: What do they cost?

Blue Cross Blue Shield has created an online pricing tool to help patients compare prices of about 1,200 non-emergency medical procedures. Patients can now search for the best financial deal for services offered within North Carolina.

 By exposing this previously undisclosed information, patients are now able to go and see services according to the databases average procedure costs. The pricing tool also reveals the most expensive and most affordable option for each procedure.

In order to look up costs and doctors available to preform your procedure, you first access the pricing tool at: http://www.bcbsnc.com/content/providersearch/treatments/index.htm#/ . Then, you enter the treatment or service you would like in the first blank, your current location, and how many miles you are willing to travel for the service. Once you have entered all of this information, you just click search and your results will be immediately displayed. You can organize your results by cost, provider name, or distance.

 

To see the original article by John Murawski in The News and Observer explaining the pricing tool, click below:

http://www.newsobserver.com/2015/01/31/4516241_blue-cross-pricing-tool-could.html#storylink=misearch

Looking Back: Nellie Kershaw-The First Reported Asbestos Victim

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from en.wikipedia.org

Nellie Kershaw.jpg

Nellie Kershaw (c. 1891 – 14 March 1924) 

Today’s post is shared from wikipedia.org/

Nellie Kershaw  was an English textile worker from Rochdale, Greater Manchester. Her death due to pulmonary asbestosis was the first such case to be described in medical literature, and the first published account of disease attributed to occupational asbestos exposure.[1][2] Before his publication of the case in the British Medical Journal, Dr William Edmund Cooke had already testified at Kershaw’s inquest that “mineral particles in the lungs originated from asbestos and were, beyond reasonable doubt, the primary cause of the fibrosis of the lungs and therefore of death”.[3] Her employers, Turner Brothers Asbestos, accepted no liability for her injuries, paid no compensation to her bereaved family and refused to contribute towards funeral expenses as it “would create a precedent and admit responsibility”.[4] She was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave.[5] The subsequent inquiries into her death led to the publication of the first Asbestos Industry Regulations in 1931.

Nellie Kershaw was born to Elizabeth and Arthur Kershaw in Rochdale in 1891. In 1903 she left school, aged 12, to take up employment in a cotton mill and 5 months later began working at Garsides asbestos mill.[1][2] She transferred to Turner Brothers Asbestos on 31 December 1917, where she was employed as a rover, spinning raw asbestos fibre into yarn.[2][6] She was married to Frank Kershaw, a…

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