Category Archives: Uncategorized

Silver Buildings: New Buildings for Older People

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from www.nytimes.com

Today’s post is shared from nytimes.com/

SAN FRANCISCO — I HEARD about the new building for months before I saw it. Part of a leading medical center, its green architecture and design were getting a lot of attention, as was its integration of top-notch modern medicine with health and wellness spaces inspired by cultures from around the world. My father’s doctor had moved there, and driving to his appointment we looked forward to experiencing the cutting-edge new building firsthand.

Outside, I unloaded the walker and led my 82-year-old father through the sliding glass doors. Inside, there was a single bench made of recycled materials. I noticed it didn’t have the arm supports that a frail elderly person requires to safely sit down and get back up. It was a long trek to the right clinic and I was double-parked outside. Helping my father onto the bench, I said, “Wait here,” and hoped he would remember to do so long enough for me to park and return.

He nodded. We were used to this. It happened almost everywhere we went: at restaurants, the bank, the airport, department stores. Many of these places — our historic city hall, with its wide steps and renovated dome, the futuristic movie theater and the new clinic — were gorgeous.

The problem was that not one of them was set up to facilitate access by someone like my father.

That may have been intentional. A few years earlier, I’d heard about a new community center where the older…

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Former workers, whistleblowers shed light on nuclear site safety setbacks

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from america.aljazeera.com

RICHLAND, Wash. – On the banks of the Columbia River, miles of open land sit undeveloped behind barbed wire fences. A handful of mysterious structures dot the landscape, remnants from the early days of the Cold War. Passing by the old Hanford nuclear production complex can feel like a journey into the past.

Known simply as Hanford, workers here produced plutonium for the world’s first atomic bomb and for many of the nation’s current nuclear warheads. The site was first developed in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project and ceased plutonium production nearly 50 years later, leaving behind 53 million gallons of highly radioactive waste. Spanning 586 square miles, it is now ground zero for the largest cleanup project in America.

For 27 years, Mike Geffre was part of that effort, working in an area known as the tank farms: 177 massive underground storage tanks, which hold up to 1 million gallons each of the country’s most toxic nuclear waste. 

A crack in the shell

First built in the 1940s, many of the original single-shell tanks leaked and contaminated the local groundwater. But starting in the 1960s, the federal government built stronger double-shell tanks that were supposed to hold the waste securely until it could be treated and sent to a deep geological repository for final keeping. Geffre, who maintained instruments used to monitor chemical and radioactive waste, spent much of his time looking for leaks in the supposedly unleakable tanks.  

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Florida Statute Deeming Workers’ Compensation an Exclusive Remedy Declared Unconstitutional by 11th Circuit Trial Court

Today’s post was shared by Workers Comp News and comes from www.jdsupra.com

On Wednesday, August 13, 2014, 11th Circuit Trial Judge Jorge E. Cueto entered a Summary Final Judgment Order declaring the exclusive remedy provision of the Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) unconstitutional. In Julio Cortes v. Velda Farms LLC (Case No. 2011-13661-CA-25 in Circuit Court of the 11th Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade County; also captioned Florida Workers’ Advocates, Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group, Elsa Padgett v. State of Florida, Office of the Attorney General), petitioners asked the court to decide if injured workers should have the right to pursue damages outside of the workers’ compensation system, thereby negating the exclusive remedy principle. Judge Cueto agreed and further stated that the current workers’ compensation law did not provide adequate benefits compared with the tort system. Petitioners included Florida Workers’ Advocates (FWA) and the Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG). WILG is a national organization of attorneys representing injured workers. FWA is an organization of attorneys representing injured workers in Florida.

The complaint for damages was originally brought by an employee against an employer based on the alleged negligence of the employer. The affirmative defense of workers’ compensation immunity under Fla. Stat. §440.11 was timely raised. The complaint was later amended to add Count IV, seeking declaratory relief that Fla. Stat. §440.11 (the exclusive remedy…

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Communication Towers

Today’s post was shared by US Dept. of Labor and comes from www.osha.gov

Prior to the 1980s, communication and broadcast tower erection, servicing and maintenance was a very small and highly specialized industry. Over the past 30 years, the growing demand for wireless and broadcast communications has spurred a dramatic increase in communication tower construction and maintenance.

In order to erect or maintain communication towers, employees regularly climb towers, using fixed ladders, support structures or step bolts, from 100 feet to heights in excess of 1000 or 2000 feet. Employees climb towers throughout the year, including during inclement weather conditions.

Some of the more frequently encountered hazards include:

  • Falls from great heights
  • Electrical hazards
  • Hazards associated with hoisting personnel and equipment with base-mounted drum hoists
  • Inclement weather
  • Falling object hazards
  • Equipment failure
  • Structural collapse of towers

In 2013, OSHA recorded a total number of 13 communication tower-related fatalities. In the first half of 2014, there have already been nine fatalities at communication tower worksites. This represents a significant increase in fatalities and injuries from previous years, and OSHA is concerned at this trend. OSHA is working with industry stakeholders to identify the causes of these injuries and fatalities, and to reduce the risks faced by employees in the communication tower industry.

Compliance Assistance

  • No more falling workers. OSHA focuses on protecting cell tower employees after increase in worksite fatalities….

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In Cities Across the Country, Opportunity is Making a Comeback

Today’s post was shared by US Dept. of Labor and comes from social.dol.gov

New York City just became the most recent city in the nation to answer President Obama’s call to raise wages for working families.

Last Tuesday, alongside Labor Secretary Perez, I signed an executive order immediately raising our living wage to $13.13. Workers at companies receiving more than $1 million in City subsidy will benefit from the new living wage, building on the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act passed into law by the City Council in 2012. And because we expanded the universe of workers affected by the law to include tenants at City-backed projects, some of our lowest paid New Yorkers—fast food workers and retail workers—will finally earn a wage that can support a family. All told, we estimate the provision will cover up to 18,000 workers over the next five years.

We came into office this past January with a mandate and an agenda to confront inequality. We pledged to expand paid sick leave for more New Yorkers—and working in partnership with the New York City Council we did, reaching a half million more people. We pledged an ambitious affordable housing plan, and after-school programs and full-day pre-K that give children opportunity and help parent work—and we’ve launched each of them successfully. Next year, I intend to work alongside Governor Andrew Cuomo to pass a $10.10 minimum wage for New York State, with a provision to allow cities like ours, where the cost of living is high, to raise the minimum wage even higher.

And when…

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Those Lazy Jobless

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from www.nytimes.com

Last week John Boehner, the speaker of the House, explained to an audience at the American Enterprise Institute what’s holding back employment in America: laziness. People, he said, have “this idea” that “I really don’t have to work. I don’t really want to do this. I think I’d rather just sit around.” Holy 47 percent, Batman!

It’s hardly the first time a prominent conservative has said something along these lines. Ever since a financial crisis plunged us into recession it has been a nonstop refrain on the right that the unemployed aren’t trying hard enough, that they are taking it easy thanks to generous unemployment benefits, which are constantly characterized as “paying people not to work.” And the urge to blame the victims of a depressed economy has proved impervious to logic and evidence.

But it’s still amazing — and revealing — to hear this line being repeated now. For the blame-the-victim crowd has gotten everything it wanted: Benefits, especially for the long-term unemployed, have been slashed or eliminated. So now we have rants against the bums on welfare when they aren’t bums — they never were — and there’s no welfare. Why?

First things first: I don’t know how many people realize just how successful the campaign against any kind of relief for those who can’t find jobs has been. But it’s a striking picture. The job market has improved…

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Leap of Bad Faith: TPAs May Be Sued for Aiding Their Own Actions

Today’s post was shared by Workers Comp News and comes from www.jdsupra.com

Picture of a Contortionist
TPAs May Be Sued for Aiding Their Own Actions

Insurers have a duty to process claims in good faith, but sometimes they farm the job out to third-party administrators (TPAs).  If the TPA fouls up, many states hold that the insurer is still liable—for its own breach of duty, even if a doctrine of vicarious liability does not apply.  The rule is summed up in the statement that the duty of good faith is not delegable; the insurer must either handle the claim in good faith or cause someone else to do so.

But what about the TPA?  If the insurer’s duty can’t be delegated, what duty can a dissatisfied insured claim that the TPA has breached?  In Temple v. Hartford Ins. Co. of Midwest, No. CV-12-2357 (D. Ariz. Aug. 26, 2014), a federal court in Arizona came up with a novel solution:  the TPA may be liable for aiding and abetting the acts that constituted the breach of duty—by committing those very acts.

The Facts

Brenda Temple, a customer service representative for Stanley Steemer, was walking to her duty station when she tripped and fell down the stairs.  The fall resulted in injuries to Temple’s knee, hip and back.  Temple consulted a nurse practitioner, who gave her a knee brace and issued a work restriction for twenty days.  The nurse practitioner found that, due to worsening pain, Temple was unable to sit at a desk, walk up stairs or stand for long periods.

The Hartford is Stanley Steemer’s workers’…

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A New Way Insurers are Shifting Costs to the Sick

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

This story was co-published with The New York Times’ The Upshot.

Health insurance companies are no longer allowed to turn away patients because of their pre-existing conditions or charge them more because of those conditions. But some health policy experts say insurers may be doing so in a more subtle way: by forcing people with a variety of illnesses — including Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and epilepsy — to pay more for their drugs.

Insurers have long tried to steer their members away from more expensive brand name drugs, labeling them as "non-preferred" and charging higher co-payments. But according to an editorial published Wednesday in the American Journal of Managed Care, several prominent health plans have taken it a step further, applying that same concept even to generic drugs.

The Affordable Care Act bans insurance companies from discriminating against patients with health problems, but that hasn’t stopped them from seeking new and creative ways to shift costs to consumers. In the process, the plans effectively may be rendering a variety of ailments "non-preferred," according to the editorial.

"It is sometimes argued that patients should have ‘skin in the game’ to motivate them to become more prudent consumers," the editorial says. "One must ask, however, what sort of consumer behavior is encouraged when all generic medicines for particular diseases are ‘non-preferred’ and subject to higher co-pays."

I recently…

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Stoners on the job: Nearly 10% of Americans went to work high

Today’s post was shared by Workers Comp Brief and comes from www.cnbc.com

Showing up to work high? You’re not alone.

A new report has found nearly 1 in 10 Americans are showing up to work high on marijuana. Mashable.com conducted the survey in partnership with SurveyMonkey, and found 9.7 percent of Americans fessed up to smoking cannabis before showing up to the office.

The data analyzed the marijuana and prescription drug habits of 534 Americans. What’s more, nearly 81 percent said they scored their cannabis illegally, according to the survey.

Cannabis and the workplace seem quite linked lately. Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Thiel recently chimed in on marijuana and work. While criticizing Twitter during an appearance on CNBC Wednesday, Thiel said Twitter is a "… horribly mismanaged company—probably a lot of pot smoking going on there."

According to separate data from Employers, a small-business insurance company, 10 percent of small businesses reported that employees showed up in 2013 under the influence of at least one controlled substance, with marijuana coming in at 5.1 percent.

Marijuana sales overall are taking off as recreational use of cannabis is legal in Colorado and Washington state, and pot can be purchased for medicinal use in 23 states and Washington, D.C.

So what’s an employer to do?

Companies have different strategies and opinions on testing. But the vast majority of U.S. employers aren’t required to test for drugs. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, many state and local governments have…

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Lawsuit claims incarcerated juvenile seriously injured

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from www.reviewjournal.com

By YESENIA AMARO
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

A lawsuit filed Thursday on behalf of a juvenile inmate alleges he suffered permanent injuries from the combination of a physical attack and use of force by correctional officers while housed at the Nevada Youth Training Center in Elko.

The complaint was filed in Clark County District Court by Al Lasso, a personal injury attorney in Las Vegas. The plaintiff, Daniel Vargas, who was transferred to the Northern Nevada facility in October, lost eyesight after he alleges officers attacked him and hogtied him in November, securing his limbs together behind his back.

“We don’t want any other child to go through what Daniel and other children up there have had to go through,” Lasso said, who added his client was not doing interviews.

Last month, Family Court Judge William Voy ordered 12 Clark County youth to be returned to his jurisdiction after reports that youth were being “hobbled” at the Elko facility. The lawsuit claims Vargas was one of those inmates.

Hobbling is defined as using a 2-foot-chain to connect the wrist restraint to the ankle restraint, preventing the person from standing upright, according to state officials.

The complaint alleges that at the end of November, Vargas woke up in accordance with facility policy and went to the bathroom to wash his hands and brush his teeth.

But because Vargas desperately needed to use the restroom and proceeded to the stall before brushing his teeth, officers attacked…

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