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Covid-19: CDC updates

The CDC's What's New and Updated webpage includes guidance on quarantine recommendations for fully vaccinated persons. "Fully vaccinated" means that at least two weeks have passed since a person has received the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or one dose of a single-dose vaccine. At this time, vaccinated persons should continue to follow current guidance to protect themselves and others, but are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria:

New online tool estimates indoor exposure to infectious aerosols

Developed by air quality experts at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the free tool estimates exposure to potentially infectious aerosols in indoor spaces. Users plug in information about 12 different inputs based on their specific indoor spaces, including the ventilation system, system filters, occupant exposure, and zone geometry, and then run a 24-hour simulation to determine strategies to reduce exposure among occupants.

The tool models the fate of infectious aerosols generated in an indoor environment, such as SARS-CoV-2. The impact of control measures also can be determined. This allows building managers and engineers to identify strategies such as adjusting ventilation rates and using portable air cleaners to reduce exposure. The tool was described in a paper in the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers' ASHRAE Journal.

NCCI has new classification for Construction Estimators

NCCI has introduced a new classification for Construction Estimators, which goes into effect on your state's regular rate filing date. Estimators are now to be classified in code 8720. This classification is designed to fix a problem with inconsistent classifications - some insurance companies put estimators in outside sales, while others would put them in the relevant construction code. NCCI determined that neither is correct, and consistency could be obtained with the new classification. Anyone whose job it is to visit with clients, take measurements and otherwise spec a construction job will be properly classified into 8720. Many auditors will likely make these changes to 2021 policies when they perform the 2020 audit.

Brain-injury comp claims cost more than double other types of lost-time claims

According to a report by the NCCI, among active claims between 2013 and 2018, 15% of permanent-injury total claims included a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Brain and head injuries, such as TBIs, account for a significant portion of mega claims, representing 17% of mega claims between $3 million and $5 million, and 30% of mega claims above $10 million. In 2018, lost-time TBI claims accounted for almost 5% of reported medical payments on all countrywide lost-time claims even though they represent only 2.5% of those claims, according to the report.

Legalized marijuana tied to fewer comp claims: study

The National Bureau of Economic Research released a study that found legalized marijuana use may be tied to fewer and less-expensive comp claims for workers ages 40 to 62. In states where recreational marijuana is legal, claims declined by 20% for these workers based on data from 2010 to 2018, and paid indemnity fell by about 21%. While this study reveals optimism more research is likely needed to understand how use and misuse of the drug may affect workers' comp systems.

Benefits altered in response to pandemic

For its January 2021 Employee Benefits in a COVID-19 World-Six-Month Update survey report, the nonprofit International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) asked U.S. employers about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their employee benefits plans. The results from 527 organizations surveyed last fall showed that more employers are reimbursing work-from-home expenses, adapting their paid-leave policies, offering flexible work schedules, and supporting workers with child and eldercare responsibilities.

Newly revised standard for constructions workers

A newly revised standard from the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is designed to help employers keep construction workers safe through updated best practices. ANSI/ASSP A10.33-2020, Safety and Health Program Requirements for Multi-Employer Projects, identifies ways organizations can create and manage a safety program in a shared construction project. The standard assists project owners, construction supervisors, contractors, and equipment manufacturers.

FMCSA extends pandemic-related hours-of-service exemptions

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) says temporary hours-of-service exemptions and other "regulatory relief" will continue for commercial motor vehicle drivers transporting items intended to assist in COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts. Announced Feb. 12, the extension of Emergency Declaration 2020-002, is scheduled to remain in effect through May 31. Drivers making routine commercial deliveries, "including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration," are not covered under the exemption.

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