Category Archives: Uncategorized

Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

From Sandwich Shops To Cotton Mills, Art That Honors The American Worker

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from www.npr.org

A lot of very hard work is going on at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

A muscled guy in an undershirt tightens a big bolt with his wrench; a farm worker bends almost in half, filling his sack with cotton; Rosie the Riveter rolls up her sleeve to tackle her factory job. They’re all part of an exhibition called "The Sweat Of Their Face: Portraying American Workers."

But not all the laborers are big and burly.

A forlorn young girl — she can’t be more than 11 or 12 — stands at a long row of spools of thread mounted on a big piece of complicated machinery. Photographer Lewis Wickes Hine wrote her name and height on the back of the picture: "Sadie Pfeifer, 48 inches high, has worked half a year." She had a job in 1908 at the Lancaster Cotton Mills in South Carolina. You can almost hear the noise, feel the heat.

"And there she is, this little girl, alone, facing an enormous machine," says Dorothy Moss, who curated this show with David C. Ward. She says Hine was a crusader, and his cause was to abolish child labor. "He would often disguise himself as a Bible vendor or newspaper deliverer, other professions, to get into these mills."

Hine put himself at risk to take these pictures, and, with the camera as witness, reforms and regulations were enacted. This exhibition showcases centuries of American workers. They are, as Moss says,"the people who were building this country, who may be on the sidelines, who…

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Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

CNN Exclusive: California launches investigation following stunning admission by Aetna medical director

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from www.cnn.com

(CNN)California’s insurance commissioner has launched an investigation into Aetna after learning a former medical director for the insurer admitted under oath he never looked at patients’ records when deciding whether to approve or deny care.

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones expressed outrage after CNN showed him a transcript of the testimony and said his office is looking into how widespread the practice is within Aetna.

"If the health insurer is making decisions to deny coverage without a physician actually ever reviewing medical records, that’s of significant concern to me as insurance commissioner in California — and potentially a violation of law," he said.

Aetna, the nation’s third-largest insurance provider with 23.1 million customers, told CNN it looked forward to "explaining our clinical review process" to the commissioner.

The California probe centers on a deposition by Dr. Jay Ken Iinuma, who served as medical director for Aetna for Southern California from March 2012 to February 2015, according to the insurer.

During the deposition, the doctor said he was following Aetna’s training, in which nurses reviewed records and made recommendations to him.

Jones said his expectation would be "that physicians would be reviewing treatment authorization requests," and that it’s troubling that "during the entire course of time he was employed at Aetna, he never once looked at patients’ medical records himself."

"It’s…

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Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

Are Workers’ Comp Benefits Ever Taxable?

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

In the vast majority of cases, workers’ compensation benefits are fully tax exempt, at the federal, state and local level. But this is not always the case where the workers’ comp beneficiary is also receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

Workers’ comp programs, which are run at the state level, provide benefits to people who suffer from work-related disabilities, stemming either from specific incidents or from conditions that develop over time, otherwise known as occupational injuries. The federal SSDI program compensates people with sufficient work histories who are deemed unemployable due to their disabilities, regardless of any connection between the person’s employment and the disability.

As is the case whenever a person with Social Security benefits receives supplemental income, a person’s SSDI benefit becomes taxable if the combined SSDI and workers’ comp income exceeds $25,000 (or $35,000 for joint filers).

To further complicate matters, if the person’s combined income exceeds this, then the workers’ comp award may also become taxable where the person is subject to the workers’ comp offset. This rule exists to prevent a person from receiving a combined amount from SSDI and workers’ comp in excess of 80 percent of the person’s prior earnings. In such cases, the Social Security Administration will reduce the person’s SSDI benefit until it meets the 80 percent threshold.

However,…

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Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

Dental Personnel Treated for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis at a Tertiary Care Center — Virginia, 2000–2015

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from www.cdc.gov

During September 1996–June 2017, nine (1%) of 894 patients treated for IPF at a single tertiary care center in Virginia were identified as dental personnel. Each patient presented for care during 2000–2015. Seven of the patients had died. This is the first known described cluster of IPF occurring among dental personnel. Although no clear etiology exists for this cluster, it is possible that occupational exposures contributed to the development of IPF.

During 2016, dentists accounted for an estimated 0.038% of U.S. residents (4), yet represented 0.893% of patients undergoing treatment for IPF at one tertiary care center, nearly a 23-fold difference. Dental personnel are exposed to infectious agents, chemicals, airborne particulates, ionizing radiation, and other potentially hazardous materials (5). Inhalational exposures experienced by dentists likely increase their risk for certain work-related respiratory diseases. For example, cases of dental technicians with pneumoconiosis, a restrictive occupational lung disease resulting from inhalation of dust, have been identified after exposure to either silica or cobalt-chromium-molybdenum-based dental prostheses (6,7). A case of pneumoconiosis was identified postmortem in an elderly dentist who died from respiratory failure (8). Examination of lung tissue at autopsy using scanning electron microscopy revealed particles consistent with alginate impression powders used during the dentist’s practice. Nine cases of…

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Pacific Seafood Warns of Potential Layoff of 69 Workers in Federal Way, WA

Pacific Seafood has provided timely notice to the State of Washington, as required, of the potential layoff of 69 employees at their Federal Way, WA Salmolux plant.  According to the Pacific Seafood website, Salmolux is their smoked seafood division and a processor of gourmet products. The notice indicated the layoffs were due to closure of the Federal Way site.  No other public information about the layoffs was provided by Pacific Seafood at the time of writing.

Photo credit: Pacific Seafood

People With Disabilities Are Finding More Work

By Ben Paynter, Fast Company, 3/6/2018, via Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment

People With Disabilities Are Finding More Work, But There’s A Long Way To Go

A new report finds that while there’s been some improvement, people with disabilities (especially minorities) face huge barriers to entering the workforce. 

While the vast majority of Americans with disabilities want to work, just over one-third are able to find jobs, according to a recent survey from RespectAbility,  a nonprofit that works to empower and increase opportunities for people with disabilities.

That creates a major societal problem: Without gainful employment, more than 12 million people are losing out on wages that might fuel more independence, never mind the obvious hit to their feelings of self-worth. But there’s some good news: more than 343,000 new workers with disabilities took jobs in 2016, four times as many as the year before.

That finding is part of a separate RespectAbility report analyzing recent data from the 2017 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, an online repository of federal data that’s compiled by the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire. The current percentage of people with disabilities who have jobs stands at 36% compared to 78% of people without disabilities who are employed.

The success of workplace hiring varies drastically from state to state. The top three states doing the best at inclusion are North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota (with rounded hiring rates of 54%, 52%, and 48%, respectively). Those states lagging the worst are West Virginia, followed by Alabama, and Mississippi (all have rates in the upper 20% range). There’s evidence that people with disabilities who are minorities may be doubly discriminated against; the hiring rate for African-Americans is especially low, at 28% overall.

RespectAbility’s analysis points out that places where opportunity is improving and have committed to adopting strong transitional school-to-work programs and state policies that support equitable job-training and development and workplace hiring practices. Two groups with initiatives that appear to be succeeding are called Project SEARCH and Bridges from School to Work.

Project SEARCH, the report notes, is an example of an employer-led effort to match students with disabilities to new jobs. It’s active in 46 states and 78% of participants end up being hired. Bridges from School to Work is known for its career “assessments, workshops, and job matching.” The effort has placed candidates at 4.500 workplaces, according to its website, and it has been honored by several of the national and local employers in different cities where it works. Standout companies include Starwood Hotels & Resorts in Dallas, Sears and AMC Theatres in Los Angeles, and Walmart in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

RespectAbility’s analysis makes clear that it will take a multi-pronged approach to make change: policy shifts, new programs, and obviously ever-more companies with a strong commitment to fair hiring practices. In recent years, companies like JP Morgan Chase, Pepsi, UPS, SAP, Ernst & Young, IBM, Starbucks, and Walgreens have become particularly good role models for inclusion. As the report notes: “These companies have seen that people with disabilities are successful employees who improve businesses’ bottom lines.”

Photo by linkwize on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Improving Safety on the Job Saves Lives and Money — March 6 Workplace Safety Seminar

Focusing on safety and health in the workplace is one of the surest investments you can make in today’s economy. Creating a culture of safety on the job can produce immediate dividends including improved productivity and reduced workers’ compensation costs. 

Workplace safety leaders from around Washington will be among the speakers at a one-day seminar on March 6, hosted by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). 

Employers will learn from industry experts who have been recognized for safety excellence, including Carlisle Construction Materials, Nucor Steel Seattle, Inc., Associated General Contractors of Washington, NuStar Energy and the University of Washington. They’ll present on a variety of topics including “Social media and Safety Culture” and “Getting People Involved in Safety.” 

The keynote speaker is Leigh Anne Jasheway, MPH, a stress management consultant who uses humor to manage change and conflict and to boost teamwork and morale. Her presentation, “Laughter is a Basic Tool for Health, Safety and Sanity,” is educational and fun. 

The free seminar is sponsored by L&I’s Voluntary Protection Program. It’s designed for managers, safety professionals, safety committee members and anyone interested in improving workplace safety.

The daylong event is in Tumwater at the L&I auditorium, 7273 Linderson Way SWPre-registration is required.

The Voluntary Protection Program promotes workplace safety and health through cooperative relationships between management, labor and government. 

Go to www.Lni.wa.gov/VPP for more information and the meeting agenda.

Photo by Samsung Newsroom on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Ship Carrying Four Huge New Container Cranes to Arrive in Tacoma, WA Friday, Feb 23rd

The Northwest Seaport Alliance announced that a huge ship carrying four of the West Coast’s largest container cranes is scheduled to travel through Puget Sound Feb. 23 to Tacoma:

Puget Sound Pilots are scheduled to board the Zhen Hua 28, a 761-foot-long heavy-lift ship, early Friday morning in Port Angeles and begin the journey to Tacoma. Track the ship’s progress.

Here are possible viewpoints along Puget Sound. Note: We will not be able to provide access to secure marine terminals. 

If you get to see the ship en route, snap a picture and add it to the viewpoint map!

The ship will sit at anchor in Commencement Bay for a day or two before delivering the cranes to Husky Terminal at the northwest end of the Blair Waterway.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance ordered eight new super-post-Panamax cranes from Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co. Ltd (ZPMC) in China through a competitive bid process. No container cranes currently are manufactured in the U.S. Learn more about the cranes in this short video.

ZPMC is the largest heavy-duty equipment manufacturer in the world and delivers more than 200 cranes every year around the world, including many seaports in the U.S.

The other four cranes will arrive in 2019.

When they arrive, the cranes will be installed at Husky Terminal, which is undergoing about $250 million in terminal improvements that began in September 2016 on Tacoma’s General Central Peninsula.

Upgrades include strengthening and realigning a berth and adding eight new super-post-Panamax cranes capable of serving two 18,000-TEU container ships at the same time. Learn more about the project.

The new cranes will have an outreach of 24 containers and a lift height of 165 feet above the pier deck.

Follow NWSA on social media for updates at #NWSACranes and #port253.