Monthly Archives: October 2012

Aging “Baby Boomers” and Workers’ Compensation Part 2

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Today’s post comes from guest author Tom Domer from The Domer Law Firm. As a continuation of last week’s post, it dispels some of the realities that were true decades ago when it came to workers’ compensation and “older” workers. And you’ll want to read all the way to the end to see who’s considered an “older” worker in this article!

Last week, we started talking about some of the NCCI’s interesting conclusions about the implications of “Baby Boomers” in the workplace (see Part 1 of this article). In today’s post, we discuss these conclusions in more detail. The frequency of injury has steadily declined since the mid-1990s, with age group differences in frequency largely eliminated.  The decline in frequency has occurred for all age groups.  The differences among age groups in the early 1990s had almost completely disappeared by 2010.

A longstanding worker’s compensation maxim that “younger workers have much higher injury rates” is no longer true.  For example: the injury rate for workers age 55-64 was 16% lower than the frequency for all workers in the mid-1990s but actually 1% higher in 2010, indicating that the differences have clearly narrowed.

Lastly, in terms of severity of claims, older workers certainly cost more, primarily due to higher wages and increased medical costs for older workers.  The severity of medical costs Continue reading

Surprising Findings On Baby Boomers and Worker’s Compensation (part 1)

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Today’s post comes from guest author Tom Domer from The Domer Law Firm in Wisconsin. Earlier this month, Mr. Domer was honored by the Workers Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG) with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his career representing injured workers. This blog post confirms that each of us gets one day older every day. And many older workers, i.e., Baby Boomers, are working longer. But age might not reflect the reality of workers’ compensation costs, it turns out! The National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc. (NCCI) was the source for this article, and as Mr. Domer wrote, the conclusions are indeed “interesting and surprising.”

What is the impact on worker’s compensation from aging Baby Boomers who have postponed their retirement, working much longer than the previous generation? In a recent study by the NCCI (National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc.) some interesting and surprising conclusions resulted. It is not surprising that the number of older workers is increasing. The study looked at the frequency and severity across age groups and tried to identify factors that accounted for the severity of injuries between older and younger workers. Among the key findings are the following:

  • The major difference among age groups occurs between the 25-34 and the 35-44 age groups. All workers 35-64 appeared to have similar costs per worker. These reassuring findings suggest an aging workforce may have a less negative impact on the lost cost per worker than many analysts originally thought.
  • Many workers’ compensation professionals have the belief that younger workers have a much higher injury rate. That appears not to be true any longer. Differences in frequency by age have virtually disappeared.
  • The major factor involving older workers involves severity. Older workers tend to have more shoulder rotator cuff claims and knee injuries while younger workers have more back and ankle sprains.
  • Higher wages for older workers are a key factor leading to higher costs for older workers. On the medical side, more treatment per claim has increased medical costs.

The study indicated that older workers account for an increasing share of the U. S. workforce. In particular, the share of workers age 55-64 has been growing steadily. The number of workers Continue reading

Is Your Workers’ Compensation Check Late?

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My work comp check was late or hasn’t come yet. Now what?

If you are entitled to workers’ compensation checks, and the insurance company has not paid them on time, you might be entitled to a penalty from the insurance company in addition to the amount that you are owed.

The penalties for late payments vary from state to state, but most states have laws to help workers when this problem arises.

In Nebraska, the work comp insurance company has 30 days to pay benefits from the day that it has notice of the disability, or 30 days from the day that the Court entered an Order, Award, or Judgment. If the insurance company does not pay the benefits within those 30 days, you may be entitled to Continue reading

The Hidden Dangers Of Holiday Employment

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Today’s post comes from guest author Jon Gelman of Jon Gelman, LLC – Attorney at Law in New Jersey. Although the post was first published last year, it has some very timely reminders and tips in it as workers are exploring seasonal employment options for this year. As this blog post explains, many local and national businesses hire workers specifically for the upcoming holidays. Because businesses expect more in holiday sales locally this year, they also anticipate hiring more seasonal workers. In fact, Kohl’s has already determined the number of workers the business plans to hire nationwide to help with the holiday season. But Mr. Gelman reminds potential employees to consider possible challenges with becoming a seasonal worker.

Seasonal employment can provide welcome income during the holidays, but it can bring dangerous working conditions along with it.

This holiday season, more than in the past, there will be a serious challenge to workers who are taking on temporary jobs. As the economy continues to be in the ditch, more people are being hired for jobs for which they are untrained and unfamiliar. Injuries will result.

Temporary employees who are injured at work are not accustomed to the procedural requirements to give their employers notice of the injury, and the correct manner and method to seek approved medical treatment. Additionally, benefits paid to seasonal workers are notoriously low and paid sporadically so the computation of rate benefits becomes an issue.

As Eve Tahmincioglu pointed out in anticipation of last year’s holiday season, “employees who end up in retail stores often face grueling conditions Continue reading

Please Vote! Of Course, It’s More Complicated Than That …

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We encourage all of our readers to vote in the 2012 elections

If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.

There are so many mantras and clichés when it comes to voting, especially during presidential-election years like this one. Admittedly, sometimes it’s hard to make the time to vote, specifically for people who work shiftwork, work out of town, or drive over-the-road trucks. But the moment the right to vote is taken for granted, something happens to jeopardize it, as was the case recently in Lincoln, Neb. Some visually-impaired citizens wanted to participate in early voting. This story, where voting machines weren’t ready for early voting, shows how folks’ ability to participate in the democratic process (note with a little d) is directly affected by their voting access and how they are not taking the right to vote for granted.

But the reality is that elections in the recent past have been very close and very expensive. And politics and government directly affect a great deal of people’s lives, whether you agree with the current government or not. And in some ways, states are making it easier for people to vote early in person or absentee (early voting) by mail. But results do vary from state to state, of course.

The good news is that in many states folks can still register to vote.

Here’s an excellent link to a page called Long Distance Voter that includes information like Continue reading

Cancer Risk, Workplace Carcinogens and a Government Report

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Our law firm recently completed successful litigation involving eight families against various chemical companies. A member of each family got cancer from working at a local plant where industrial solutions were used to make rubber products.

Stating the obvious, cancer is universally bad, regardless of how much money a person has; what their religious or political views are; how old they are; or how/where/why they got cancer. That being said, I think workers especially need to be aware of the dangers and exposures to carcinogens that can occur because of chemicals in the workplace. According to a United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website, “Carcinogens are agents that can cause cancer. In industry, there are many potential exposures to carcinogens. Generally, workplace exposures are considered to be at higher levels than for public exposures. Material safety data sheets (MSDSs) should always contain an indication of carcinogenic potential.”

Respected colleague Jon Gelman from New Jersey shares his thoughts on the subject in this blog post at http://workers-compensation.blogspot.com/2012/10/romney-regulation-risk-of-cancer.html. And I thank him for sharing the op-ed resource from a recent Sunday’s edition of The New York Times.

According to the Times piece, lobbyists associated with the chemical industry want to “shoot the messenger” by limiting or getting rid of the U.S. government’s Report on Carcinogens. Because if workers don’t know about carcinogens in their workplace, they won’t get cancer? Or more accurately, at least they won’t be able to tie that cancer to their workplace? Tell that to the American Cancer Society, whose web site includes a page specific to carcinogens and uses various sources, both national and international, to determine what carcinogens are.

Mr. Gelman also mentions in his blog post that certain lobbyists and politicians want to limit the regulation of these chemicals, which the Times story calls “scientific consensus” for their listing as cancer-causing carcinogens. It’s very challenging for consumers to know what substances, either naturally occurring or made by humans are safe to eat and use. To take that confusion into the workplace by limiting the information available to workers to be as safe as possible in their jobs, especially when long-term consequences like cancer are a possibility, is a shame.

Nursing Facilities Have Higher Incidence Of Workplace Injury Than Construction

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Today’s post comes from guest author Nathan Reckman of Paul McAndrew Law Firm in Iowa. Two of our firm’s attorneys, Todd Bennett and Roger Moore, are licensed to practice in Iowa, so I find it interesting that workers in nursing and residential care had the highest number of injuries among all workers in the state. I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Reckman that although the U.S. is “becoming a safer place to work,” employers need to focus more on safety and preventing injuries, and that should happen in all 50 states.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics “Workplace Injuries and Illnesses – 2010” report, the United States is becoming a safer place to work. In 2010, there were 3.1 million non-fatal work injuries reported. This translates to 3.5 injuries per 100 full-time equivalents, a slight decrease from the 2009 rate of 3.6 injuries per 100 full-time workers. The rate of injuries per 100 workers has been decreasing every year since 2002. In 2010, Iowa reported an above average number of work injuries, averaging 4.4 injuries per 100 full-time equivalent workers.

Of these 3.1 million injuries, nearly 76% (2.2 million) of injuries occurred in the service industry. Service jobs make up 82.4% of the labor market. Nearly 24% (0.7 million injuries) occurred in manufacturing industries, which make up 17.6% of the labor market.

Surprisingly, the state owned nursing and residential care facilities workers reported the most injuries at 14.7 injuries per 100 full-time equivalents. The industry with the most reported injuries in 2009, Local Government supported Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction, improved from 12.5 injuries per 100 full-time equivalents to 8.6 injuries per 100 full-time equivalents in 2010.

The statistics are encouraging, but I look forward to the day where there are no fatal workplace injuries, and where workplace safety is a primary concern for all employers and workers.

Jon Rehm Earns Awards from Peers

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Attorney Jon Rehm

Congratulations to Jon Rehm for being awarded an Excellence Award from the New Lawyers Division of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) for the second straight year. Jon’s award was for his continuing efforts to help elect federal candidates who favor workplace safety, workplace fairness and consumer rights. Attorneys who are AAJ members and admitted to the practice of law for less than 10 years may participate in the New Lawyers Division, according to the AAJ web site.

Jon’s service to AAJ was part of the reason he was selected by the board of the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA) as one of their two delegates to AAJ. As an AAJ delegate, Jon will represent the interests of Nebraska trial attorneys at AAJ. Jon was also appointed to the NATA board because of his work as the editor of the NATA journal, The Prairie Barrister. Last fall, Jon started a section of the Barrister that focuses on recent decisions so that Nebraska trial lawyers can be up to date on case law. Jon personally summarizes workers’ compensation and employee’s rights cases so that his clients and the clients of Rehm, Bennett & Moore can benefit from understanding the latest developments in the law. Jon is also active in social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @JonRehmEsq and, in addition to blogging on our firm blog, he also maintains a personal blog at http://nebraskaworkplacelawyer.wordpress.com/.