WorkComp Advisory
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Things you should know

Revised I-9 Form
Effective April 3, 2009

Employers are required to use the revised I-9 beginning April 3, 2009, but must use the current version of the I-9 form until that date. The revised form will be available at The U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services website,

Changes to the I-9 form are primarily in the List of Acceptable Documents. New
acceptable documents have been added and some previously acceptable documents have been removed from the list. Another important change requires that acceptable documents may not be expired. Documents that have no expiration date are considered unexpired. The revised I-9 must also be used for reverification purposes beginning April 3, 2009. According to the Department of Homeland Security USCIS, employers do not need to have their current employees routinely complete new I-9 forms. However, employers will need to have current employees complete a new I-9 form if an older version of the I-9 form was used and the current employee’s employment/work authorization document expires.

Labor Dept. issues model COBRA subsidy notices

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), signed into law in February 2009, mandates that plans notify certain current and former participants and beneficiaries about the COBRA premium reduction subsidy.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has made available model notices to help plans and individuals comply with these requirements. Each model notice is designed for a particular group of qualified beneficiaries and contains information to help satisfy ARRA’s notice provisions. Here is the link:

Workers’ Comp linked to poor back surgery outcomes

Workers' Compensation patients who undergo lumbar discectomy may have a greater risk of poor outcomes than non-compensated patients, according to study findings published in the March issue of The Spine Journal.

Led by M. Scott DeBerard, Ph.D., of Utah State University in Logan, Utah, the researchers found that 17 (12.7 percent) were disabled, and that about 25 percent of them experienced poor outcomes based on an analysis of patient satisfaction, back pain-related dysfunction and the Short-Form Health Survey-36 subscales. They also found that significant predictors of poor outcomes included older age, number of co-morbid health conditions, assigned case manager, litigation and time delay from injury to surgery.

"Patients at risk for poor outcomes may be identified before surgery based on biopsychosocial characteristics often available in a patient's chart," the authors conclude. "If such higher-risk patients can be identified before surgery, an appropriate presurgical intervention consisting of patient education regarding likely outcomes and a referral to a rigorous multidisciplinary functional restoration program might lead to better outcomes and patient satisfaction associated with this procedure."

Free workplace vision wellness program available

The Chicago-based nonprofit organization, Prevent Blindness America (PBA), is offering a free vision wellness program to employers.

The Healthy Eyes Vision Wellness Program offers educational materials and tools, including:
   A Vision Wellness in the Workplace promotional guide
   A PBA Healthy Vision Observance calendar
   Monthly e-mails containing vision health and safety posters, fact sheets and updates
   A poster outlining common eye myths

PBA said the program could help make workers more productive and reduce vision-related disability claims, sick leave and early retirement stemming from eye health issues.

Study finds guideline-based care cost-effective for workers with mental health issues

Providing guideline-based care to workers suffering relatively mild mental health issues can be cost- effective, according to studies from the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam.

Researchers analyzed the care given to 240 Dutch police officers on sick leave for stress-related issues. Half of the officers were offered guideline-based care – which recommended a gradual return to work and provided advice on how to deal with work stress symptoms – while the other half received standard care, which included a referral to a psychologist for evaluation. Both groups of workers averaged 150 lost workdays, although the group receiving guideline-based care incurred lower health care costs. Only half as many officers in the guideline-based group ultimately required treatment from a psychologist as those in the standard care group.

The reports were published in the March issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Women more likely to quit because of bad boss

According to CareerBuilder, women (48%) are more likely than men (39%) to quit their job to get away from a bad boss. Workers aged 35 -44 (48%) are more likely than those aged 45 – 54 (41%) to have done so.