Five Things You Need to Know: 8/8, Wednesday Edition


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1) WY Mail ‘Hauler’ in Hot Water for Allegedly Stealing Close to $2M in Work Comp Benefits

Keith Ratcliff has been charged with multiple counts of fraud after accepting work comp benefits that weren’t his over a period of 12 years, per prosecutors, writes Gary Smith of the Journal Star. “…As president and owner of Wyoming-based Ratcliff Enterprises Inc., Ratcliff is alleged to have requested and received reimbursement for the purchase of workers-comp insurance for the company’s employees from July 1, 2005, through Nov. 18, 2017, under the terms of a Postal Service contract that involved hauling mail between Peoria and various locations in western Illinois,” per the article. “…The number of employees involved and the current status of the trucking business were not made clear.”

2) CA Wildfire Firefighters Work Through Physical, Emotional Struggles 

Thousands of firefighters have flocked to California to fight fires ravaging the state, writes Brianna Sacks of Buzzfeed News. “…These violent threats to people and property — once relatively unusual in California wildfire season — have become frighteningly familiar in recent years, forcing the state to throw nearly fresh firefighting resources toward a new blaze every few months,” per the article. “Not even a month into its fiscal year, Cal Fire has spent about $114,000 from the state's emergency fund to tackle the incessant spate of blazes, a number that Scott McLean, a deputy chief with the agency, called ‘concerning and uncommon.’” Firefighters at hotshot camps work for sometimes three weeks (or more) straight in attempt to contain the heat and flames. But the mental and emotional factors are important too. “…When asked about the emotional toll of the recent fires, (CA firefighter KC) Corcoran shrugged. ‘We can't have feelings,’ he said, later explaining emotions can get in the way. “It’s all-consuming. You can lose yourself in this job at times,’ (firefighter Greg Bertelli) said in the article. “All our efforts go into that for a long time, for weeks, months, and some cases years when they are on your home turf. It beats you up and scars you.”

3) TX: Police Officer to Receive Benefits After On the Job Injury 

Wichita Falls Police Officer Tim Putney and his wife have been battling to receive work comp benefits after his back was hurt on the job, writes Samantha Forester and Alex Achten of News Channel 6 Now. The pair received some good news after a recent judge’s ruling declared his injury wasn’t pre-existing, and was in fact, work comp related. "…The surgeon will put in for the surgery that he's put in for a couple times now," (Tim’s wife) Putney said in the article. "Every denial letter and everything we've received has said that it was basically degenerative. Now it's been ruled that it happened on duty. So they can't be saying that."

4) Opioid Fight Continues in PA 

“…(PA) recorded more than 5,440 overdose deaths in the 12 months ending in July 2017, a 43.4% hike over the previous year. The state released on July 16 new opioid-prescribing guidelines under its workers’ compensation program that specify the smallest doses possible for the shortest periods for acute pain and other ‘alternatives’ for chronic pain sufferers. Critics say the guidelines are weaker than opioid formularies Gov. Tom Wolf (R) vetoed in June, but state officials said those covered too many non-opioid drugs,” according to the Engineering News-Record. The last week of July was dubbed “Construction Opioids Awareness Week,” in the state to increase awareness that more than 15 percent of people in construction have an addiction problem, while 9 percent is the average in other industries. Educational outreach is underway, and the slogan “Opioids: Warn Me” dons some paychecks as stickers, to encourage providers and medical representatives to outline the cautions associated with the drugs.

5) Worklete: Innovation in Lifting Education?

“…According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupations with the highest numbers of nonfatal injuries are firefighters, nurses, freight workers, material movers, heavy equipment drivers, and nursing assistants,” writes John Converse Townsend of Fast Co. Worklete, a lifting lessons app introduced in 2015, aims to teach employees how to work and move, and reduce incidents of injury on the job. “…Worklete, which operates with the tagline, ‘Work Like an Athlete,’ is delivering real, accessible physical education where it hasn’t previously existed,” writes Converse Townsend. The app provides education at a more general level, but also industry-and-location specific guidance for users. 

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