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Oklahoma: Workers' comp opt-out provision unconstitutional

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the 2013 legislation that gave employers the ability to "opt out" of the state workers' compensation system and write their own plans is unconstitutional. In a strongly worded opinion, they note the act is "creating an impermissible select group of employees seeking compensation for work-related injuries for disparate treatment." About 55 employers created their own alternative workers' comp plans and have 90 days to negotiate for insurance coverage or arrange to self-insure the risk.

Illinois: Injured workers spend an average of 50 percent more time off work

Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission's 2015 annual report reveals that injured workers spend an average of 50 percent more time off work than their counterparts in Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan or Iowa. The average time off work for a temporary injury is 18.4 weeks in Illinois, compared with 15.7 weeks in Michigan, 11.6 weeks in Iowa, 10.9 weeks in Wisconsin, and 10.5 weeks in Indiana.

California: WCIRB study shows decline in drug spending

Although pharmaceutical costs for workers' compensation indemnity claims at six months post injury increased by 217% over a ten-year period from 2005 through 2014, from the second half of 2012 through the second half of 2015, there has been a 28% reduction in drug spending per claim. The state has the longest durations for workers' compensation claims in the nation and for claims lasting ten years or more, drugs account for 37% of all medical costs.

Many factors contribute to the declining trend, including the introduction of Independent Medical Review, greater attention to the potential overuse of opiates, and tighter regulations in physician dispensing.

Patterns of Drug Dispensing in California Worker Compensation

Annual drug testing index reveals fifth straight year of rise in detection of rate of amphetamine and heroin - Quest Diagnostics

Following years of declines, the percentage of employees in the combined U.S. workforce testing positive for drugs has steadily increased over the last three years to a 10-year high, according to an analysis of nearly 11 million workforce drug test results by Quest Diagnostics, the world's leading provider of diagnostic information services.

Another notable trend is the rising positivity rate for post-accident urine drug testing that increased 6.2 percent in 2015 from 2014 and 30 percent since 2011.

In oral fluid drug testing, the overall positivity rate increased 47 percent over the last three years, largely driven by double-digit increases in marijuana positivity.

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Number of railroad workers testing positive for drug use skyrockets

Nearly eight percent of workers involved in rail accidents tested positive for drug use, including marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, benzodiazepine, OxyContin and morphine, according to internal federal documents obtained by The Washington Post.

Hospital markups can be as high as 20 times the cost

A study by Johns Hopkins University researchers found that both private and nonprofit hospitals can charge up to 20 times of what a service costs, often just because they can. The markup occurs in many complicated procedures like CT scans, MRI tests, electrocardiology tests and anesthesiology services with the highest markups found in for-profit hospitals that were system-affiliated or were the dominant hospital in their area. The researchers recommended a cap on markups or better transparency from hospitals to patients on what standard rates are for hospitals in the area or what the Medicare rate is for the service.

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Cost of risk in retail

In a sector with slim profit margins, every dollar spent on risk is important. The Milliman Retail Cost of Risk Research Report found that the average cost of risk for retailers in the United States is projected to be $5.93 per $1,000 of retail sales. The report states that there are 15.7 million people who work in retail and every month there are 55,000 workplace injuries. The majority of nonfatal injuries in retail are due to contact with objects, overexertion and falls. In 2015, average insurance premiums for retailers increased by 30%.

New app for electrical line workers

A new mobile app offers free "in the field" access to safety information for line workers in the electrical transmission and distribution industry. The "ET&D Partnership" app, developed by the National Electrical Contractors Association and its member organizations, features best practices, safety tips, industry updates and training information for workers, supervisors and managers. It is available for Apple and Android devices.

Report offers recommendations for CMV drivers with controlled diabetes

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Medical Review Board report offers recommendations for helping commercial motor vehicle drivers who have controlled diabetes remain safe on the road.

Construction safety group updates jobsite safety climate workbook

The Center for Construction Research and Training, also known as CPWR, has updated its workbook, Strengthening Jobsite Safety Climate by Using and Improving Leading Indicators.

As part of the update, CPWR has added eight leading indicator worksheets that address the following topics:

The Safety Climate Assessment Tool (S-CAT), allows employers to analyze their results against other construction companies.

3M recalls fall prevention device over safety concerns

Capital Safety/3M is voluntarily recalling its original Lad-Saf™ sleeve used to prevent falls from fixed ladders. The sleeve connects the user to a cable and locks onto it in the event of a fall. A review in the field by the manufacturer found misuse could lead to serious injury or death.

Alert warns of lead exposure during cable de-tensioning work

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has issued a hazard alert for workers who use thermal cutting tools to de-tension cables embedded in concrete structures such as bridges and freeway overpasses, warning them of the dangers of lead exposure.

Final rule aims to improve safety in offshore oil and gas industry

Effective November 7, The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement's (BSEE) final rule revises and updates site safety and maintenance requirements for the first time since 1988.

Fact sheet.