Five Things to Catch Up On: 3/19, Weekend Edition

                               

1) LAST REMINDER: Upgraded CompNewsNetwork Went Live This Week (Update your bookmarks!)

A new and improved news center went live on Monday, March 13, 2017. The upgraded news area features two new sections featuring original content and opinions. The two sections are called “Featured News” and “The Experts View." Previous features of the CompNewsNetwork, current news, Workers’ Comp Blogwire, From Bob’s Cluttered Desk, and more are still offered. The new streamlined look will be the first phase of a complete redesign for the entire website. New Premium Services require user registration in order to access content, but it remains a free service. All existing areas before the upgrade are freely available without registration. All content and articles from the current system are available in the new format. The old CompNewsNetwork area will remain accessible for a limited time. Click here to see the new site, and here to sign up!

 

2) CA Court to Decide Constitutionality of Independent Medical Reviews

As part of its effort to streamline the workers’ compensation procedure, California made several changes to its laws in 2013. One of the major changes was the introduction of the Independent Medical Review (IMR) procedure. The way the law works is if an injured worker disagrees with a treatment decision, he or she can request a utilization review (UR), in which an independent medical doctor reviews the records and makes a determination as to the necessity of the treatment. (A more thorough analysis of the UR process and how it works can be found here). If the claimant disagrees with the UR assessment, the claimant’s attorney can then file an appeal requesting the IMR. If an IMR is requested, another doctor will review the records and make a decision that is then implemented by the workers’ compensation judge. Neither the UR physician nor the IMR physician see the claimant in person. To read more, click here.

 

3) Comp in Australia: Workers Demand Coverage for Lawn Mowing, Breast Surgery and Longer Coffee Breaks

Comcare, an Austrailian government workers' compensation insurer, has revealed taxpayer costs of approximately $45 million to pay legal bills in fighting some very specific demands from public sector employees. They include: mowing the lawn, breast reduction and more time for coffee breaks, according to a New York Post article originally published by news.com.au.
    • Lawn mowing: "The obese Australian Bureau of Statistics clerk claimed he had been bullied and harassed and suffered from a 'psychological injury.' He claimed to be plagued with breathlessness, fatigue and dizziness," writes Olivia Lambert. "...The Administrative Appeals Tribunal believed his two adult children and his wife had the ability to mow and trim the lawns of the family home for one to two hours every couple of weeks."
    • Breast reduction: "A worker at the Australian Taxation Office demanded $15,000 for the procedure and her fight cost taxpayers more than $75,000. She claimed the size of her breasts gave her neck and shoulder pain. Her case was taken to court twice, but in December it was ousted by Comcare, which did not think the surgery was related to her work," according to the article. "She claimed that sitting at a desk in front of a computer gave her the pain and made her gain weight, which was the reason for needing a breast reduction."
    • Longer coffee breaks: "The worker claimed she had dietary requirements and needed to find a cafe with organic coffee and soy milk and she took longer than 15 minutes during her morning coffee break," writes Lambert. "She claimed that following the breaks, she was treated unreasonably by her boss and it triggered her adjustment disorder, the feeling of hopelessness and sadness caused by the stressful event. Her workers’ comp claim was also rejected."
 
4) Oregon On-the-Job Death Rates Increased by 30 Percent From 2015-2016
 
The Dept. of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) released a preliminary report in March, with data showing Oregon deaths in 2016 had increased by more than 30 percent from 2015, writes Colin Fluxman of the SUN (Safety Unlimited News-Service). Deaths went from 41 in 2015 to 61 in 2016. "The new Workplace Fatalities in Oregon (WFO) program tracks on-the-job deaths, regardless of workers’ compensation status," according to the article. "As a result, the program now also includes workplace deaths involving self-employed people, City of Portland police and fire employees, federal employees and incidents occurring in Oregon to workers with out-of-state employers." DCBS has suggested that no conclusions be drawn on single-year fatality data. Fluxman noted that the WFO preliminary numbers will be finalized later in 2017.
 
 
5) Getting the Gig with Workers’ Compensation, Part II
 
If getting the gig does mean losing workers’ compensation, what does that look like? Last week WorkersCompensation.com reported on When Getting the Gig Means Losing Workers' Compensation, citing expert Nancy Grover's "The On-Demand Economy: A Major Disruption for the Workers' Compensation System," and other workers’ compensation experts who discussed the glitches a gig economy has caused for workers’ compensation. This week, the news center offers a positive side of on-demand employment. One example is Washington State Bill 2109, which is presently before the House of Representatives since being introduced by Jessyn Farrell (D-Washington) on Feb. 15. To read more, click here.

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