Five Things You Need to Know: 3/16, Thursday Edition

                               

1) NY Coalition Created to Beat Drum, Create Attention for Reform

A coalition contending that reform must happen in New York’s workers' compensation system is alive and growing. Signed by more than 60 organizations, from politicians to farmers, the collective criticizes New York’s present system, saying continually rising workers’ compensation coverage rates are "one of the biggest business and competitiveness concerns facing New York’s job creators." To read more, click here.


2) WV Firefighter Bill in Circulation for Ten Years

Chances of myeloma and leukemia are 50 percent higher as a firefighter, according to South Charleston Fire Department Chief Virgil White out of West Virginia. "White said that is why firefighters in the state are asking lawmakers to pass a presumption bill that would allow firefighters diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma to file for workers' compensation," writes Christopher Williams of Fox 11 Eyewitness News (Charleston/Huntington). Fire Department Capt. Tom Fledderus, a 20-plus year veteran firefighter in Wheeling, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2015. He said 40 other states have some sort of presumption law for firefighters. "Just at my department, at this station right now there's two of us battling cancer,” he said in the article.


3) Aftermath of the CA Soberanes Fire Brings Cal/OSHA Citations and Penalties

Two private contractors are on the radar of California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), after the "costliest wildfire in U.S. history," writes Ted Goldberg of KQED News (NPR). The Soberanes Fire burned more than 130,000 acres in Monterey County during the summer and fall of 2016, according to the state's fire website. Cal/OSHA handed down five citations to Czirban Concrete Construction out of Madera County. Robert Reagan was an employee of the concrete company. "The bulldozer [Reagan] was operating near Big Sur tipped over on a steep embankment and pinned him to the ground, marking the first bulldozer operator fatality in a California wildfire in nearly nine years," writes Goldberg. John Tiersma was an employee of Industrial Defense Development, a Tuolumne County company penalized by Cal/OSHA. "He suffered serious injuries when the water tender he was operating rolled over and down a hill on Sept. 11, 2016," according to the article. Investigators said the Soberanes fire was started by an illegal campfire. "Cal/OSHA issued $20,000 in fines against Czirban for five workplace violations. The largest, for $13,500, was because Czirban failed to make sure Reagan was wearing a seat belt," writes Goldberg. "...While Czirban’s contract was with Cal Fire, Industrial Defense Development was working for the U.S. Forest Service. Cal/OSHA has issued $6,000 in fines against that firm. Its largest fine was for not reporting the injury to the agency."


4) 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."


5) 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!

 


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