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In a recent article from the USLAW Network attorneys Clint Cox and Todd Estes highlight some differences between the option to provide benefits outside of workers' compensation in Texas and Oklahoma. The authors explain that one of the primary differences is that Texas employers are liable for worker injuries while Oklahoma law shields employers with exclusive remedy language. Accordingly they ask the question, "Does the new Oklahoma law have enough auxiliary precautions to protect employers, protect employees and allow businesses to still make a profit?"
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a proposed rule that will require employers to report injuries through an online database, which will eventually be posted online.
EmployerBrief.com - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently revised its Hazard Communication Standard to be consistent with the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.
According to OSHA, the reason for the change is to improve safety and health of workers through more effective communications on chemical hazards. Thus, because chemical manufacturers will soon begin to use labels that are compliant with the new standard, employees must be trained to understand the labels.
Employers must complete training for their employees on the new required chemical label elements and the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) by Dec. 1, 2013. The training must be completed in a manner that employees understand. For example, where necessary, employers must accommodate employees with specific communication needs, including employees who speak languages other than English, employees who have limited vocabularies and employees who are illiterate.
The required training must contain 3 topics...
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin today signed into law Senate Bill 1062, a bill that brings significant changes the workers’ compensation system in Oklahoma. The bill, moves the state from a court-based workers’ compensation system to an administrative system and allows employers to "opt out" if they provide the same forms of benefits as required under the workers' compensation system. Upon signing Govern Fallin stated, "For decades, Oklahoma has had one of the most expensive and inefficient workers’ compensation systems in the country, a constant obstacle for business owners looking to expand operations or create more jobs. “Senate Bill 1062 completely overhauls our flawed workers’ comp system, dramatically reducing the costs to businesses and freeing up private-sector resources that can be invested in jobs rather than lawsuits.
Plans Can Continue to Enforce Subrogation/Reimbursement Provisions
In a unanimous ruling, the United States Supreme Court ruled yesterday in U.S. Airways, Inc. v. McCutchen that employee benefit plans will continue to be able to enforce subrogation/reimbursement provisions.
Employee benefit plans, including those offered by nonsubscribing employers, often provide that if the participant obtains compensation from a third party for an injury, he or she must fully reimburse the plan. A conflict occurred when some courts held that Section 502(a)(3) of ERISA authorized courts to rewrite contractual language and refuse to order participants to reimburse their plan for benefits paid, even when the plan's terms provided an absolute right to full reimbursement.
Although the decision generally supports subrogation/reimbursement under the the plan's terms, when there are gaps in the plan, equitable doctrines may be used to properly construe it.
Please click on the following link to download (PDF) U.S. Airways, Inc. v. McCutchen
Committee Substitute to Senate Bill 21 amends the Texas Unemployment Compensation Act by adding a drug-testing eligibility requirement for applicants to receive unemployment compensation benefits. The Texas Workforce Commission would not be testing all applicants, but only those who fail a pre-screen test and work in certain identified industries. Claimants who refuse drug testing or fail such tests would be barred from receiving unemployment insurance benefits until the individual passes a test at least four weeks after the date of the failed test. The bill passed out of the Senate Economic Development Committee on April 8th, and is on the intent calendar for consideration by the Texas Senate today (April 10, 2013).
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is announcing the newly revised Employment Eligibility Verification form, Form I–9. Employers are required to use the Form I–9 to verify the identity and employment authorization eligibility of their employees.
02/11/2013 -- THE TEXAS GROWTH MACHINE
City Journal - The data show that the Lone Star State’s prosperity is no mirage.
EmployerBrief.com - The Affordable Care Act requires employers to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan. Reporting the cost of health care coverage on the Form W-2 does not mean that the coverage is taxable.
CNSNews.com - As the overall number of Americans collecting disability has increased, the ratio of full-time workers to disability beneficiaries has decreased.
February marks the beginning of the three-month time period when employers covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) recordkeeping rule must post a summary of recordable injuries on the OSHA Form 300A from their previous year’s OSHA Form 300.
The Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs announced that it will meet to consider several interim charges*. One of the charges is for the committee to, “examine the Texas workers compensation system and make recommendations for changes to meet the needs of Texas employers and employees.
With the recent rise in social media use, many employers have begun reviewing prospective and current employees by viewing what is on their public Facebook, Twitter or other social media profiles.
08/08/2012 -- AVERAGE WORKERS' COMP CLAIM DURATION RISES TO 149 DAYS
Business Insurance - The average duration of workers compensation temporary total disability claims benefits increased during the first half of 2011.
08/08/2012 -- WORKERS' COMP PRICES INCREASING AS MARKET HARDENS
Workforce - Workers' compensation insurance prices are increasing, substantially in some cases, and policy offerings are diminishing as insurers seek to address unprofitable combined ratios amid rising indemnity and medical costs.
Port Arthur Chemical and Environmental Services LLC and its former president have been charged with conspiracy to illegally transport hazardous materials, resulting in the deaths of two employees, in an indictment handed down by a federal grand jury in Beaumont, Texas.
TPMMuckracker - “It may feel like just another day at the office but, occasionally, life feels more like an action movie than reality.” Those are the opening lines of a new video produced by the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security.
EmployerBrief - Employees at Monticello Power Plant in Mount Pleasant, Texas, are taking safety excellence to the next level as evidenced by a new plant safety record – 20 years without a lost-time injury.
The Washington Post - American International Group Inc. and its affiliates have agreed to pay $146.5 million to all 50 states and the District of Columbia to settle a complaint that it misreported billions of dollars in workers compensation premiums in past years.
06/14/2012 -- PAIN PILLS ADD COST AND DELAYS TO WORK-RELATED INJURIES
New York Times - Workplace insurers are accustomed to making billions of dollars in payments each year, with the biggest sums going to employees hurt in major accidents, like those mangled by machines or crushed in building collapses.
06/14/2012 -- HOW JANE FONDA HELPS KEEP WORKERS SAFE
KSL.com - Employees at Roofers Supply begin each day with their Stretch and Flex Program, or as most employees call it, the Jane Fonda.
EmployerBrief - In what the Tulsa World is calling a “shocking development” the Republican-controlled Oklahoma House of Representatives rejected legislation Wednesday to introduce an alternative to workers’ compensation in the state.
As one might expect Walmart’s recent decision to operate as a nonsubscriber to workers’ compensation in Texas is drawing a lot of attention. Walmart represents its new program will give the company “an opportunity to provide better care for our associates while also better managing our costs.” I think Walmart will ultimately determine its own fate in the court of public opinion.
Gregory Grinberg - One of the stories making the news around the internet is that Walmart has elected to opt out of the workers’ compensation system in Texas.
04/15/2012 -- OPT OUT OF WORKERS' COMP? NOT IN CALIFORNIA!
Gregory Grinberg - Maybe this whole workers’ compensation thing isn’t worth it. After all, the purpose of the workers’ compensation system was a trade-off: employers get caps on their liability, employees get quicker access to benefits, and the variable of fault is no longer part of the equation.
03/12/2012 -- RISING WORK COMP RATES MAY IMPACT TEXAS NONSUBSCRIBERS
EmployerBrief - After a long period of stability, the price employers pay for workers’ compensation coverage is on the rise. According to the National Council on Workers’ Compensation Insurance (NCCI), a national ratings organization, the frequency of workers’ compensation claims increased 3% in 2010, the first increase since 1997.
There is widespread concern about the potential adverse impact on workers compensation loss costs as the “baby boomers” postpone retirement and accelerate the aging of the workforce.
02/01/2012 -- HOUSTON TAKES TOP SPOT FOR MANUFACTURING JOBS
According to Manufacturers’ News, Houston takes the top spot for industrial employment with 235,038 manufacturing jobs, up 2.9% over last year. New York ranks second with 140,952 jobs, up 1.3%
Business Insurance - The five leading causes of workplace injuries drive nearly 72% of the nation's direct workers compensation costs, according to research released Tuesday.
EmployerBrief - The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced a final rule specifically prohibiting interstate truck and bus drivers from using hand-held cell phones while operating their vehicles. Businesses are subject to a penalty of $11,000 for allowing their drivers to use hand-held cell phones while driving.
11/30/2011 -- THE BEST STATES FOR JOBS
Forbes - Texas leads the way when it comes to states that will add the most jobs over the next five years on a percentage basis. Total employment in Texas is forecasted to expand 2.9% annually through 2015 according to research firm Moody’s Analytics. That represents 1.6 million new net jobs for the state over five years.
11/30/2011 -- CALIFORNIA TO BUSINESS: GET OUT!
Wall Street Journal - CKE has stopped opening restaurants in California, where the process can take up to two years because of regulations, and plans to open 300 in Texas, where a new place can debut in just six weeks. Because those two years are spent on expensive administrative work—everything from negotiating permits to filing planning documents—it can cost $200,000 more to open a restaurant in California than in Texas.
EmployerBrief - The EEOC received a record 99,947 charges of discrimination in fiscal year 2011, which ended Sept. 30, the highest number of charges in the agency’s 46-year history.
The Week - The Montana Supreme Court this week decided that a nature park worker who was mauled by a grizzly bear in 2007 should get workers' compensation even though he was high on marijuana at the time.
New American - When Jeremy Hoven put his concealed carry permit to use for self-defense purposes during an armed robbery last May, he was fired by his employer, Walgreens. Though Hoven defended the use of his weapon by asserting he feared for his life, and while no one was injured during the encounter, Walgreens issued a pink slip, prompting Hoven to file a wrongful termination lawsuit.
09/14/2011 -- SO MANY GADGETS, SO MANY ACHES
New York Times - LOOK around, they’re everywhere: hunched shoulders, angled necks and wrists, hands twisted like claws. As people harness their bodies to use more electronic devices in more places, they may unknowingly be putting themselves at a greater risk of injury.
09/14/2011 -- SURVEY: OVERHAUL MAY PUSH EMPLOYEE BENEFITS SHIFT
Associated Press - Nearly one of every 10 midsized or big employers expects to stop offering health coverage to workers after insurance exchanges begin operating in 2014 as part of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.
Occupational Health and Safety - OSHA recently issued a directive on Enforcement Procedures for Investigating or Inspecting Incidents of Workplace Violence. The directive establishes uniform procedures for OSHA field staff for responding to incidents and complaints of workplace violence and conducting inspections in industries considered vulnerable to workplace violence, such as health care and social service settings and late-night retail establishments.
Jon L. Gelman - A recent study by NCCI Holdings, Inc. reports the top 10 most popular drugs prescribed for workers' compensation claims.
04/04/2011 -- SENATE OKS LETTING TEXANS KEEP GUNS IN CAR AT WORK
Texans would be allowed to keep firearms and ammunition in their cars and trucks while they are at work, under a bill approved Tuesday by the state Senate over the objections of business groups.
Austin American Statesman - Personal injury lawyers and some patient advocates say hospital liens — which have been permitted by Texas law since the 1930s — by themselves are not bad. It makes sense for hospitals to try to get paid, they said. But they see hospitals abusing liens by seeking drastically higher payments from accident victims than they would otherwise get.
04/04/2011 -- REPORT DINGS CONGRESS ON WORKPLACE SAFETY
Politico.com - When it comes to providing a safe workplace environment for congressional staffers and employees, Congress is faltering, according to a report compiled by the agency responsible for workplace issues in the Capitol.
Propertycasualty360.com - Anthony Phillips, vice president, chief risk officer & chief actuary with Accident Fund Holdings, Inc., headquartered in Lansing, Mich., noted that the issues in workers’ comp are “pretty significant right now—a merging of several storms.” These include the economy, market conditions and the poor investment market.
02/02/2011 -- EMPLOYERS TREAD A MINEFIELD
WSJ.com - Facebook gaffes that can cause trouble in the workplace aren't unique to drunken college students anymore. As more companies and their workers tap into the world of blogs, Twitter and Facebook, employers are tripping over legal potholes in social media.
02/02/2011 -- FOR DISABLED FEDS, WORKERS' COMP BEATS RETIREMENT
The Washington Times - The Federal Employees' Compensation Act of 1916 was never intended to be a retirement plan, but critics say for thousands of government employees, that's just what it's become.
02/02/2011 -- STUDY FINDS OBESITY INCREASES RISK OF DISABLING INJURIES
NCCI - The incidence of obesity is growing globally. In the United States, the incidence of obesity is the highest of all reporting countries and the trend continues unabated. Intuitively, the implications of this trend for workers compensation are disturbing.
02/02/2011 -- FALL IN COMP CLAIMS COMING TO AN END?
Business Insurance - A long-term trend of declining frequency of workers compensation claims has flattened, insurers say. The widespread shift is significant because declining frequency of workers comp claims—or lost-time claims filed per payroll dollars—has helped counter rising costs driven by the severity of claims.
02/02/2011 -- WORKERS’ COMP: NOT JUST FOR 80-YEAR-OLDS ANY MORE
Federal Times.com - Congressional hearings on the U.S. Postal Service usually fall somewhat short of spine-tingling, but here’s a fascinating tidbit from this morning’s session before a Senate subcommittee: There are 132 postal workers aged 90 or older currently receiving workers’ compensation, three of whom are 98.
02/02/2011 -- EEOC 2010 CHARGES SOAR TO NEARLY 100,000
National Underwriter - For fiscal year 2010, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received nearly 100,000 new private sector charges of employment discrimination—a record high and a jump of 7 percent over 2009, the agency reported.
12/01/2010 -- TEXAS' WORKERS COMP AGENCY'S OVERSIGHT FAULTED: AUDITOR
Business Insurance - Problems within Texas’ Division of Workers’ Compensation “significantly inhibit” its monitoring of health care that is provided to injured workers, according to a state auditor report.
WorkersCompensation.com - The former chair of the 1972 National Commission on Workers' Compensation told Congress that the present system is deteriorating and a new course of action is warranted.
12/01/2010 -- A VULNERABLE DEMOGRAPHIC
Risk and Insurance - Injury risks have diminished for most working Americans in recent decades. But for one demographic group, older Hispanic workers, these risks have remained high.
Insurance Journal - Local and state government workers have much higher rates of injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work than workers in private industry, the government reported.
11/04/2010 -- REPORT: STATE BUSINESS TAX FALLING SHORT OF EXPECTATIONS
Austin American Statesman - A task force on Wednesday aired its report on a controversial business margins tax that was designed to help boost state revenue. It concludes that the tax is generating much less money than expected, adding to a whopping state budget shortfall that could perhaps reach $24 billion.
11/04/2010 -- EMPLOYERS START BRACING FOR HIGHER TAX WITHHOLDING
Bloomberg - Employers in the U.S. are starting to warn their workers to prepare for slimmer paychecks if Congress fails to vote on an extension of Bush-era tax cuts.
Employee Benefit News - In a recent series of Family Medical Leave Act cases, courts have reinforced the rights of employees taking FMLA leave and redefined important aspects of who can take leave, such as opening the door to same-sex spouses.
11/04/2010 -- DRUG TESTING POSES QUANDARY FOR EMPLOYERS
New York Times - Employers can choose to test for more drugs, which is what Dura decided to do at its Lawrenceburg plant in 2007. Citing concerns about drug use and worker safety, Dura hired an independent company to administer random drug tests.
11/04/2010 -- THE TEXAS MODEL
National Review - Texas already looms large in its own imagination. Its elevated self-image didn’t need this: More than half of the net new jobs in the U.S. during the past 12 months were created in the Lone Star State.
10/01/2010 -- TEXAS: AUDIT OF COMP DIVISION FINDS ENFORCEMENT PROBLEMS
Risk and Insurance - The audit found that as of April, 661 pending workers' comp enforcement cases had been open for an average of 467 calendar days. One case, the report noted, had been open since FY 2006, and 58 cases had been open since FY 2007.
10/01/2010 -- CURBING AN EMPLOYEE CLASSIFICATION MISTAKE
Risk & Insurance - Misclassifying employees as independent contractors is costing employers, with increased litigation and regulatory action. A proactive approach can avoid missteps.
Austin American Statesman - Lawyers representing physician-owned hospitals will face government lawyers in Tyler today in one of the first court proceedings to challenge the national health care overhaul.
Fort Worth Star Telegram - Texas was among the nation's leaders in Hispanic-owned businesses in 2007, with the second-largest number of firms, the top three cities and three of the five leading counties, the U.S. Census said Tuesday.
Safety News Alert - A jury in Chicago has awarded the largest individual verdict in a popcorn lung disease case. The jury awarded $30.4 million to an employee worked in plants that processed diacetyl, a butter flavoring, for about 20 years.
09/01/2010 -- A LOOK AT WORKERS’ COMP TODAY
Claims - Profitability in workers’ compensation is heading downhill rather rapidly," according to Robert P. Hartwig, Ph.D., CPCU, president and economist of the Insurance Information Institute. "We are earning about 40-50 percent less than we were pre-crisis."
09/01/2010 -- DEATHS ON THE JOB CLIMB IN TEXAS
Houston Chronicle - In what may be a dark twist on the lighter blow Texas took during the recession, on-the-job deaths rose in the state in 2009 even as workplace fatalities nationwide dropped 17 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday.
09/01/2010 -- THE MOST DANGEROUS JOBS IN AMERICA
New York Times - It may be romantic to make a living as a fisherman, logger or aircraft pilot. But according to a new report that the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued on Thursday, those are the three most dangerous occupations in the United States.
07/25/2010 -- STATE AUDIT FINDS MASSIVE BACKLOG AT WORKERS' COMP
The Texas Tribune - State auditors found muddled chains of command, incomplete or missing files and a massive backlog of cases when they dug into the enforcement process at the Division of Workers' Compensation, according to a report released Thursday.
New York Times - The new diagnostic criteria also have consequences for lawyers, insurance companies and workers’ compensation programs.
CBS- Sometimes scents can be overpowering. A Detroit woman sued the city after she claimed she couldn't work due to her colleague's perfume.
07/02/2010 -- SUNSET COMMISSION TO VOTE ON WORKERS' COMP CHANGES
Texas Tribune - The troubled Division of Workers’ Compensation at the Texas Department of Insurance will face a legislative test next Tuesday, as ten state lawmakers and two citizen members on the Sunset Advisory Commission will vote on recommended changes to revamp the division’s process of investigating fraud and abuse among doctors who treat injured workers.
07/02/2010 -- THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR INJURED WORKER
Risk and Insurance - Implantable devices are being used more and more in workers' comp. But they are leading to increased costs and even changing the way doctors provide care to injured workers.
07/02/2010 -- 9 IN 10 DOCS BLAME LAWSUIT FEARS FOR OVERTESTING
Austin American Statesman - Ninety percent of physicians surveyed said doctors overtest and overtreat to protect themselves from malpractice lawsuits.
07/02/2010 -- UNION CONTRACT CAN EXEMPT HEALTH PLAN FROM OBAMACARE
IBD.com - Under new rules, your employer can't change insurers without losing your health plan's exemptions from ObamaCare regulations. That is, unless a union negotiated your coverage. The administration has granted a special exception to those — and apparently only those — health care plans.
07/02/2010 -- 40% OF WORKPLACE FATALITIES ARE TRANSPORTATION RELATED
Insurance Journal - Transportation incidents continue to be the No. 1 cause of on-the job deaths, a trend that has been the case since 1992, according to the American Society of Safety Engineers' (ASSE). In fact, in 2008, 40 percent of all workplace fatalities were transportation related, the association noted.
06/03/2010 -- WORKERS' COMP: WHAT'S NEXT?
Texas Tribune - On the heels of allegations last week by former employees of the Texas Department of Insurance’s Division of Workers’ Compensation that their higher-ups have failed to sanction or remove dozens of doctors accused of overtreatment and overbilling, Texas lawmakers are pledging to investigate the consequences for patient care and the state’s finances.
06/03/2010 -- YOUNGER WORKERS EXPERIENCE HIGHER INJURY RATES
EHS Today - From 1998-2007, younger workers experienced approximately twice as many nonfatal occupational injuries as older workers, and employers must make changes in workplace environments and practices to protect this population, according to the April 23 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
06/03/2010 -- EMPLOYERS EXPECT HEALTH REFORM LAW TO BOOST COSTS
Business Insurance - One-quarter of employers expect the requirements that group health care plans extend coverage to employees' adult children up to age 26 and that they eliminate lifetime dollar limits will increase plan costs at least 3%, according to a survey released Thursday.
06/03/2010 -- 9 AVOIDABLE WORKPLACE HEALTH AND SAFETY HAZARDS
Inc. - Workplace health and safety hazards can be costly (to lives and the bottom line), but the good news is that they are largely preventable if you take the right precautions.
06/03/2010 -- STATE'S BUSINESS TAX FALLING WELL SHORT
Austin American Statesman - Adding to Texas' already grim budget situation, the state's second-largest source of revenue could come in $500 million short of projections this year.
Business Insurance - The issue in Rent-A-Center West Inc. vs. Antonio Jackson is whether a court or an arbitrator decides if an arbitration agreement was entered into under duress. The issue is particularly relevant to employment contracts, which often have clauses that say an arbitrator will decide any claim, including any concerning the enforceability of the arbitration agreement, say observers.
05/03/2010 -- WORKERS' COMP CLAIM DENIED BECAUSE OF HOME OFFICE
Austin American Statesman - Liana Leordeanu, a traveling saleswoman, was driving from a business appointment to her office in 2003 when she lost control of her car and slammed into a rock embankment alongside Loop 360 in Austin.
05/03/2010 -- HEALTH CARE COSTS SKYROCKET AFTER LAYOFFS
Employee Benefit News - A Fortune 500 Company incurred more than $11.1 million in increased benefits costs and a spike in high-risk claims filed by employees in the 14 months after cutting its workforce 10%, finds a recent study.
05/03/2010 -- WHEN TO RETAIN AND WHEN TO DESTROY INSURANCE POLICIES
Risk & Insurance - Most companies have instituted records retention policies that run the gamut from the simple to the exceedingly complex. Records retention policies are important for three main reasons…
Houston Business Journal - Forty-two percent of Texas business leaders recently polled say recent health care reform will make their companies less likely to offer health care coverage to their employees.
04/19/2010 -- EMPLOYEE DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS HIT RECORD HIGH IN 2009
INC. - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission won $294 million on behalf of employees in 2009, the highest amount yet. Here's how you can avoid becoming a target.
Insurance Journal - A federal judge has overturned a Texas law that bars medical professionals from contacting victims within 30 days of an accident and lawyers from contacting people within a month of getting arrested.
04/19/2010 -- INCENTIVES: IS BEHAVIOR THE KEY TO AN EFFECTIVE PROGRAM?
EHS Today - Many employers implement safety incentive programs as they seek to recognize and reward employees for practicing safe and healthful work practices. While incentives are popular, they aren't always effective.
Dallas Morning News - The Dallas-Fort Worth area ranked among the strongest metropolitan economies in the nation during the last three months of 2009, according to a study to be released today by the Brookings Institution, a public policy think tank in Washington.
The Hill - The majority of all lawmaker offices on Capitol Hill have at least one health or safety hazard violation.
03/03/2010 -- REWARD EMPLOYERS FOR HIRING JOBLESS TEXANS
Austin American Statesman - Texas businesses that hire unemployed workers in coming months will be eligible to get $2,000 a incentive.
03/03/2010 -- EEOC ISSUES NEW DATA ON JOB PATTERNS IN PRIVATE SECTOR
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has posted extensive new data on job patterns in the private sector.
03/03/2010 -- AMERICAN SMALL BUSINESSES NEEDN'T GO EXTINCT
The Washington Post - It's not only mom-and-pop operations that are vanishing. It's also smaller advertising agencies, law firms and medical offices.
NIOSH - This review was conducted to determine whether occupational health and safety training and education programs have a beneficial effect on workers and firms.
02/02/2010 -- TOP THREE MYTHS ABOUT WORKPLACE INJURIES
EHS Today - How many times have you heard people saying something completely ridiculous or that you know just isn’t right? You don’t have to go very far these days to encounter such statements.
Fort Worth Star Telegram - Texas workers got $28.9 million in compensation for workplace sexual harassment, religious intolerance, and age and race discrimination in fiscal 2009 — about $2.7 million more than the previous year.
USA Today - An encouraging jobs report Friday underscored the growing prominence of temporary workers who some experts predict could constitute up to a quarter of the workforce in a few years.
Insurance Journal - Soon after she became the nation's labor secretary, Hilda Solis warned corporate America there was "a new sheriff in town.'' Less than a year into her tenure, that figurative badge of authority is unmistakable. Her aggressive moves to boost enforcement and crack down on businesses that violate workplace safety rules have sent employers scrambling to make sure they are following the rules.
02/02/2010 -- P/C INSURERS LIKELY TO TIGHTEN UNDERWRITING: BEST
Business Insurance - Lower investment income likely will prompt the U.S. property/casualty industry to focus on underwriting discipline to improve results following the financial crisis, according to A.M. Best Co. Inc.
Dallas Morning News - Some of Texas' business licensing laws are "ridiculous" and hurt the state's economy and entrepreneurial spirit by making it difficult for people to start a business, according to a report released Tuesday by the Institute for Justice, a Virginia-based Libertarian public interest law firm.
Safety News Alert - Ever face an appeal in a workers’ comp case? Then you know it can take a long time. But here’s a case that’s been in the courts for 27 years, and it isn’t over yet. And the injury was to the worker’s little toe.
01/01/2010 -- DEADLINE LOOMS FOR FIRMS TO REGISTER CLAIMS DATA
Business Insurance - Insurers and self-insured employers face deadline to register with a federal agency, but numerous questions remain about what workers compensation and liability claims data must be fed into the Medicare system, several experts say.
Wacotrib.com - Employers all over Texas, including those in Waco, may want to watch their mail deliveries closely this week. News about how much more they will pay into the state’s unemployment trust fund will be arriving.
12/01/2009 -- NCOIL APPROVES MODEL MANDATING CONSTRUCTION WC COVERAGE
Property Casualty.com - The National Conference of Insurance Legislators unanimously approved an act mandating workers’ compensation coverage in the construction industry. The model holds primary contractors liable for the uninsured employees of any subcontractor hired.
Tennessean.com - A law meant to ensure that all construction workers are covered for workplace injuries may be scaled back amid complaints that it will be too expensive and could put thousands of small contractors out of business.
12/01/2009 -- SOME COMP COST INCREASES BLAMED ON MEDICARE RULES
Business Insurance - Inflated rulings on how much employers must set aside to ensure Medicare does not pay for workers compensation medical claims are resulting in needless cost increases, risk managers and claims experts contend. Claim settlement delays and government practices for evaluating workers comp claims requiring a Medicare set-aside are boosting costs for those claims by as much as 20%, several employers and claims experts estimate.
The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the availability of an updated version of its popular Employment Law Guide, an online publication that describes the major employment laws administered by the department. The Guide helps the public — workers and employers — understand many of the laws affecting the workplace.
12/01/2009 -- OBESITY BECOMES A WORKERS’ COMP COMPLICATION
Kansas City.com - A cook at an Indiana restaurant suffered a job-related back injury, and a workers’ compensation board said the employer must pay for a medical procedure. What makes this news? The procedure was weight-loss surgery.
11/03/2009 -- NEW ADA LAW HITS EMPLOYERS
My SA Business - Flying well below almost every employer's radar is a new federal disabilities federal law that widens the definition of disability, for purposes of avoiding discrimination, to include nearly every worker and applicant.
11/03/2009 -- STATE SUING TO SHUT PLANTS WHILE FATAL INCIDENTS PROBED
Houston Chronicle - Texas' attorney general has filed suit to temporarily close two affiliated industrial waste facilities in south Houston and Port Arthur until dozens of operational changes are made.
Dallas Morning News - The Texas economy may be recovering in some ways, but it's still losing jobs. Employers cut nonfarm payrolls by 44,700 jobs in September.
11/03/2009 -- BIG CHANGES COMING TO THE WORKPLACE
Kiplinger.com - The Obama administration is cranking out a slew of regulations affecting businesses. Political appointees are in control at most Cabinet departments and regulatory agencies, and they’re having an influence.
10/15/2009 -- CHIMP OWNER WANTS ATTACK TREATED AS WORKER'S COMP CLAIM
USA Today - An attorney for the owner of a chimpanzee that attacked a Connecticut woman in February is arguing that the attack should be treated like a worker's compensation claim, which would severely limit monetary damages.
National Underwriter - Economic cycles and underwriting cycles historically have little connection with one another, an industry expert said at a gathering of surplus lines insurers and brokers here.
10/15/2009 -- NEW COURT TERM HINTS AT VIEWS ON REGULATING BUSINESS
New York Times - The new Supreme Court term that begins Monday will be dominated by cases concerning corporations, compensation and the financial markets that could signal the justices’ attitude toward regulatory constraints at a time of extraordinary government intervention in the economy, The New York Times’s Adam Liptak writes.
10/15/2009 -- EMPLOYERS UNEASY ABOUT HIGHER TAXES IN HEALTH CARE BILL
Employee Benefit News - Health care reform received a major boost yesterday when the Senate Finance Committee voted 14-9 in favor of the “America's Healthy Future Act of 2009.” Yet industry watchers of employee benefits still remain concerned over the measure, citing its costs and workability.
10/01/2009 -- TEXAS MOVES UP IN FORBES' BEST STATES FOR BUSINESS LIST
Austin Business Journal - Texas improved its position on Forbes' Best States for Business this year. The Lone Star State ranked 8th on this year's list, up from 9th in 2008. The magazine ranks all 50 states based on costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life.
Dallas Morning News - Medical imaging is such a growth industry that even the owner of the Dallas Cowboys has gone into the business. At Blue Star Imaging in Irving, Cowboys jerseys hang in the lobby, and miniature NFL helmets line a shelf. On a wall next to the MRI machine are the autographs of Cowboys players who have had scans.
Occupational Health and Safety - OSHA's Area Office in Englewood, Colo., has cited two Texas-based companies, United Renovations and ABC Roofing, with penalties of $59,000 and $38,750, respectively, for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act related to fall hazards disclosed at an Aurora, Colo., worksite.
10/01/2009 -- LABOR UNIONS SEE SHARP SLIDE IN U.S. PUBLIC SUPPORT
Gallup finds organized labor taking a significant image hit in the past year. While 66% of Americans continue to believe unions are beneficial to their own members, a slight majority now say unions hurt the nation's economy. More broadly, fewer than half of Americans -- 48%, an all-time low -- approve of labor unions, down from 59% a year ago.
10/01/2009 -- A.M. BEST: WORKERS' COMPENSATION--HOW BAD WILL IT GET?
Market Watch - Challenging market conditions, the financial crisis and the recession drove profitability downward for the U.S. workers' compensation market in 2008, and A.M. Best Co. expects the impact to linger through 2009 and well into 2010. Meanwhile, changing regulatory issues and reforms are continuing to affect workers' comp, bringing turmoil in terms of pricing, competition, loss costs, frequency, severity and profitability.
OPB News - The Oregon Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that a man who was injured on the job can receive workers' compensation for weight-loss surgery.
Law.com - With the shaky economy causing many employees to forgo taking a vacation, employment lawyers are urging employers to give workers an extra nudge this year and make sure they take time off.
09/01/2009 -- EVEN IN TEXAS, RECOVERY IN JOB MARKET LIKELY TO BE SLOW
Dallas Morning News - The economic cataclysm of the last 12 months has reduced us to feeling good about the loss of a quarter-million jobs. And that may hold some important clues about what's in store for the Texas economy.
09/01/2009 -- HOW CEO’S CAN HELP FIX HEALTH CARE
Wall Street Journal - It's time for American companies to turn health care costs from a weakness into a strength. High health care costs are one reason many of America's once-venerable corporations -- like General Motors and Chrysler -- are struggling to compete globally.
09/01/2009 -- BIG EMPLOYERS DIP INTO HEALTH CARE DEBATE
MSNBC - The debate over health care reform isn’t just drawing heated viewpoints from town halls to the halls of Congress — it’s also a hot topic of public discussion at some major U.S. companies.
08/12/2009 -- PRACTICAL EMPLOYEE RELATIONS
Rough Notes - Under federal, state and local non-discrimination laws, well over 100 different factors listed are listed as a “protected status.” In compliance-based training programs, managers are told “discrimination is illegal—don’t do it.” Most managers would prefer to be taught “what to do” rather than “what not to do” when dealing with employee-related problems.
08/12/2009 -- TRAINING TO PREVENT BUILDING LIABILITIES
Buildings - The amount of money lost annually by businesses due to liability suits is in the millions, says Merrill Fischbein, risk manager and insurance broker at Minneapolis-based Fischbein Insurance Services.
Dallas Morning News - Texas' jobless-benefits fund is empty, and the state will probably borrow $1.5 billion from the federal government to pay benefits through December, a state official said Tuesday. But it's unclear when Texas employers will have to pay a much higher tax to repay the loan and rebuild a required $863 million cushion in the unemployment compensation trust fund.
08/12/2009 -- COMPANY EVENTS CAN END UP AS WORKERS' COMP
DesMoninesRegister.com - Robert Powell of Cedar Rapids was bowling with his daughter when he hurt his back, but the injury cost his employer more than $100,000 in workers' compensation benefits. That's because Powell's employer had arranged and paid for Powell's bowling as part of what it called a Family Fun Fest for the company's workers.
08/12/2009 -- EMPLOYERS DEBATE HOW MUCH WEB FREEDOM TO GIVE WORKERS
Austin American Statesman - Ryan Tracy thought he'd entered the Dark Ages when he graduated from college and arrived in the working world. His employer blocked access to Facebook, Gmail and other popular Internet sites.
08/01/2009 -- 34 HOSPITALIZED AFTER CO-WORKER SPRAYS PERFUME
34 people were taken to hospitals, 12 by ambulance, after reporting dizziness and shortness of breath Wednesday at a Bank of America call center in Fort Worth.
08/01/2009 -- HISPANIC WORKER DEATHS UP 76% SINCE 1992
USA Today - The number of Hispanic workers who die on the job has risen, even as the overall number of workplace deaths has declined, according to federal statistics.
08/01/2009 -- DELL SETTLES DISCRIMINATION CASE FOR $9.1 MILLION
Austin American Statesman - Dell Inc. agreed Thursday to pay $9.1 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that claimed the company had discriminated against female employees.
08/01/2009 -- ANALYSIS: ECONOMIC RECOVERY MAY BE LESS TOUGH ON TEXAS
Dallas Morning News - The Great Recession may be nearing an end. Sort of. An index of leading economic indicators rose in June for the third month in a row.
08/01/2009 -- REPEALING ERISA
Wall Street Journal - One by one, President Obama’s health-care promises are being exposed by the details of the actual legislation: Costs will explode, not fall; taxes will have to soar to pay for it; and now we are learning that you won’t be able to “keep your health-care plan” either.
08/01/2009 -- TARGET MAY SUPPORT CALL FOR MANDATORY EMPLOYER INSURANCE
New Mexico business weekly - Target Corp. may get behind a call by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to support mandatory health insurance coverage by large companies, according to reports by Bloomberg and Dow Jones.
07/12/2009 -- TEXAS GAINING SMALL BUSINESSES EVEN IN RECESSION
Dallas Morning News - Texas managed to gain small businesses last year despite the deepening recession, according to a report released Wednesday by the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy.
The Heritage Foundation - Recent press reports, including a front-page story in the Wall Street Journal, have the news that Wal-Mart has signed a letter to President Obama endorsing the idea of an “employer mandate” – a requirement that employers offer health insurance to their employees. Why would Wal-Mart – the nation’s largest employer – endorse such an idea? Simple: It would cripple many of their competitors.
Risk & Insurance - The workers' compensation insurance market faces considerable near-term challenges due to underwriting losses in 2008, according to a report.
AllGov - Organized labor was nothing short of giddy when President Barack Obama decided to make Jordan Barab the temporary head, and permanent No. 2 official, at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Austin American Statesman - The Obama administration on Wednesday opened investigations involving hundreds of businesses around the country, including in Texas, as part of its strategy to focus immigration enforcement on employers who hire illegal workers.
WSJ.com - On a major break with most other large companies, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Tuesday told the White House that it supports requiring employers to provide health insurance to workers, a centerpiece of President Barack Obama's effort to provide near-universal coverage to Americans.
Star Telegram - Marvin Chosky was confused by a letter he got from the state about his unemployment benefits and wanted to talk to someone at the Texas Workforce Commission. So he got on the phone and called — and called — and called.
07/02/2009 -- STUDY: TEXAS RANKS FIRST FOR BUSINESS
Austin Business Journal - Texas has been named the country's No. 1 state for business once again, this time by Directorship, a publication that caters to corporate boardroom leaders. According to its Web site, the magazine's mission is to provide corporate boardroom’s and governance committees with the best intelligence on the U.S. business environment.
Los Angeles Times - The El Monte factory stopped operating just a few weeks ago, but already it feels abandoned, an appropriate setting for a "Terminator" movie. The dusty clock on the wall is frozen at 7:00. Below it, the deep pits that once held molten steel are now empty, and the parts created there wait in hundreds of boxes to be shipped off across the country or turned into scrap.
07/02/2009 -- EMPLOYER HEALTH BENEFITS 2008 ANNUAL SURVEY
Kaiser Foundation - This annual survey of employers provides a detailed look at trends in employer-sponsored health coverage, including changes in premiums, employee contributions, cost-sharing provisions, and other relevant information.
06/04/2009 -- NOTABLE BILLS OF THE 2009 LEGISLATURE
Dallas Morning News - A look at some bills that made it, and some that didn't, in the regular session of the 81st Texas Legislature, which ended Monday.
06/04/2009 -- OBAMA OPEN TO A MANDATE ON HEALTH INSURANCE
New York Times – President Obama said Wednesday that he was receptive to Congressional proposals that would require Americans to have health insurance and oblige employers to share in the cost. But he said there should be exemptions for people who cannot afford insurance and for small businesses in general.
ClaimsJournal.com - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on May 26 announced it has cited Sills-Swindell Inc. for two alleged willful and one repeat violation following a fatality accident at the company's worksite in Richardson, Texas.
This short technical assistance document answers basic questions about workplace preparation strategies for the 2009 H1N1 flu virus (swine flu) that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Because this situation is rapidly evolving, employers should consult their local public health authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for key facts on the H1N1 flu virus.
06/04/2009 -- BILL WOULD GUARANTEE UP TO 7 PAID SICK DAYS
New York Times - A long-stalled effort to guarantee American workers paid sick days takes a big step forward Monday with the introduction of legislation by Congressional Democrats.
05/01/2009 -- EMPLOYER BEST PRACTICES DOCUMENT ON WORK/FAMILY BALANCE
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a document on best practices to avoid discrimination against workers with caregiving responsibilities.
05/01/2009 -- PREPARING YOUR WORKPLACE FOR A SWINE FLU PANDEMIC
Business Management Daily - After years of worry about a possible avian flu pandemic, the United States instead now faces a swine flu outbreak that has caused the government to declare a public health emergency.
05/01/2009 -- BUSINESS SPENDS LESS, UNIONS MORE ON LOBBYING
Wall Street Journal - Big industry trade groups cut their lobbying spending during the first three months of 2009, while large labor unions ramped up expenditures to influence Congress and the Obama administration.
05/01/2009 -- BEST CITIES FOR JOBS
Forbes - In hard times, metropolitan areas in Texas and college towns hold out the best opportunities for employment.
05/01/2009 -- BLOGGER NAMED AS OSHA HEAD
Workplace HR and Safety - Jordan Barab was named as deputy assistant secretary for OSHA. Barab is a senior policy advisor to the House Education and Labor Committee. Linda Solis, secretary of labor, announced that Barab will also serve as acting assistant secretary for OSHA until a permanent head is named.
04/13/2009 -- PLAINTIFFS BAR PUSHES CAPITOL HILL AGENDA
Law.com - Trial lawyers are preparing for a fight in Congress over proposals that would open new areas for civil litigation, testing whether they can translate their new found political capital into legislative victories.
Law.com - A U.S. Supreme Court job bias decision protecting workers interviewed in an employer's internal investigation of discrimination is likely to lead to an increase in worker retaliation claims and greater caution by employers as to which workers should be interviewed, according to management lawyers.
04/13/2009 -- COMPANIES MUST COPE WITH LEDBETTER FAIR PAY ACT
Fort Worth Business Press - Earlier this year, President Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. The new law is named after Lilly Ledbetter, a longtime employee of Goodyear Tire, who brought a lawsuit claiming discrimination.
Chief Executive - As the nation’s unemployment figures continue to reach new heights, Chief Executive magazine's 2009 "Best & Worst States" survey took CEO's pulse on what the best and worst places for jobs and business growth are. For the fourth year in a row, CEOs rated Texas as the #1 state to do business and California as the worst.
04/13/2009 -- TOP 10 TIPS FOR MORE EFFECTIVE EHS TRAINING
EHS Today - You've just settled in for a safety training session. The instructor greets the class, distributes some hand-outs and begins teaching. No, wait. He's reading. From a 20-page, single-spaced document. Without pausing or looking up. Worse, he's showing no signs of stopping.
03/27/2009 -- TEXAS SENATE BACKS GUNS IN CARS AT WORKPLACES
Dallas Morning News - Texans could carry their guns and ammunition to work – as long as they keep them in the car or pickup – under a bill passed unanimously by the Senate on Wednesday.
03/27/2009 -- MORE JOB BIAS LAWSUITS ARE ON THE WAY
Kiplinger - Employers should brace themselves for a big increase in employment discrimination suits, spurred by recent Supreme Court decisions, new federal laws and massive layoffs in many industries.
Talent Management - The results of a worker sentiment study that found that 72 percent of people believe that the benefits they receive at work are better than or as good as what most other companies offer. However, most feel the value of benefits has dropped.
Law.com - There is no easier way for a company to turn a small gain into a multidimensional catastrophic loss than by violating the False Claims Act.
03/27/2009 -- MEDICARE SECONDARY PAYER MANDATORY REPORTING USER GUIDE
This guide provides information and instructions for the Medicare Secondary Payer liability insurance (including self-insurance), no-fault insurance and workers’ compensation reporting requirements mandated by Section 111 of the Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007.
Kansas City Star - Asserting that mounting workloads and dwindling staff have hindered the government's ability to protect workers, President Barack Obama is pledging to increase the enforcement of workplace safety.
03/11/2009 -- EMPLOYEE DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS SET RECORD, EEOC SAYS
Bloomberg.com - Discrimination claims filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last year rose to the highest in the agency’s 44-year history, after a Supreme Court ruling that changed the way complaints may be filed.
03/11/2009 -- PRESIDENT TELLS UNIONS ORGANIZING ACT WILL PASS
Wall Street Journal - President Barack Obama told AFL-CIO union leaders Tuesday in a videotaped address that the controversial Employee Free Choice Act will pass, signaling his full backing for legislation that makes union organizing easier.
03/11/2009 -- COMP CONCERNS RISE WITH UNEMPLOYMENT RATES
Business Insurance - Job reports released last week underscore a growing challenge risk managers face: managing workers compensation losses in the midst of layoffs that can exacerbate claim frequency and severity.
03/11/2009 -- DALLAS FED ESTIMATES TEXAS MAY REACH 8% UNEMPLOYMENT
Dallas Morning News - Texas could lose nearly 300,000 jobs this year and see its unemployment rate reach about 8 percent, according to an updated estimate by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
02/22/2009 -- COBRA EXPANSION WORRIES EMPLOYERS
Business Insurance - Employers would be required to offer COBRA health care coverage for at least a decade to many former employees and retirees under legislation likely headed for a vote by the full House this week.
Law.com - Make no mistake, it just got tougher to be an employer.
02/22/2009 -- ADA CHANGES SHOULD SPUR EMPLOYERS TO REVIEW PRACTICES
Las Vegas Sun - After years of changes to the Americans With Disabilities Act through controversial court decisions, Congress last year passed updated legislation clarifying the law. Under the amendments most people living with disabilities will see improved or restored protection.
02/22/2009 -- EMPLOYERS PREPARE FOR SURGE IN COBRA ENROLLEES
Business Insurance - Employers will have to scramble to comply with federal legislation providing a federal subsidy of COBRA health insurance premiums to laid-off employees. Employees who were laid off from Sept. 1, 2008, through Dec. 31, 2009, will be eligible for a 65% federal subsidy of their COBRA premiums under provisions in the massive economic stimulus bill.
National Underwriter - Workers’ compensation systems pay higher prices to treat worker injuries than group health plans for the same ailments, according to a new study of comp fee schedules by the National Council on Compensation Insurance.
EEOC - On January 29, 2009, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which supersedes the Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc.
02/06/2009 -- RELEARNING FMLA
Human Resources Executive Online - It's out with the old and in with the new, as updated FMLA regulations go into effect. In the first of two columns on the subject, we look at the changes in definitions and eligibility, including the expansion of FMLA rights for military families and an extended timeframe for making FMLA decisions.
02/06/2009 -- RECESSION-ERA JURIES A HURDLE FOR BUSINESS
Law.com - As the 2009 recession settles in, juries are expected to stick it to employers in workplace disputes this year, with the flailing economy weighing heavily on their minds amid a growing mistrust of corporate management.
Employee Benefit News - The health care cost trend appears to be heading up again. According to a recent survey of 400 employers by BLR, 42% are bracing for health care cost hikes exceeding 10% in 2009. Another 9% of the respondents said they expect costs to rise 9% this year. Only 13% anticipate no increase.
01/26/2009 -- HOW TO DRAFT AN EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK
Texas Bar Association - An Employee Handbook should be tailored to the individual needs of the employer and the employer's management style. It is to be used as a guideline and should never be interpreted as a form of an Employment Contract.
01/26/2009 -- WAGE BIAS BILL WILL BURDEN EMPLOYERS: EXPERTS
Business Insurance - A measure that would ease time limits on wage discrimination claims, which passed the Senate last week and is supported by President Obama, could lead to increased litigation and administrative headaches for many employers, observers say.
01/26/2009 -- SHOULD YOU REINVENT YOUR BUSINESS MODEL?
Harvard Business Review - The piece appears in the December 2008 issue of HBR, and as an added feature, we asked Clay to talk with us on video about how disruptive innovation and business model reinvention are linked. In this clip, you'll hear what he has to say.
Occupational Health and Safety - In fiscal year 2008, the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) won a record $67,510,982 in back pay, salary, and benefits for an unprecedented 24,508 American workers who had been subjected to unlawful employment discrimination.
01/26/2009 -- P-C INSURERS WILL HIKE PRICES BY MID-2009, ANALYSTS SAY
National Underwriter - Significant capital losses in the fourth quarter of 2008 will cause property-casualty insurers to raise prices, prompting a hard market by the middle of the year, security analysts at Sandler O’Neill banking predicted today.
01/26/2009 -- MEDICARE MANDATE RAISES LIABILITY WORRIES
Business Insurance - A government effort to ensure that Medicare does not pay expenses for which casualty insurers and self-insured employers are primarily responsible could hamper the settlement of liability claims, observers warn.
01/13/2009 -- GRIM FINANCIAL PICTURE GREETS RETURNING LAWMAKERS
Star Telegram.com - State lawmakers prepared to go to work today to address a wide range of state priorities such as education, transportation and healthcare after the state’s chief financial officer told them Monday that they will have $9.1 billion less to spend than they had at the start of their last session, two years ago.
01/13/2009 -- BUSINESS BILLS FILL STATE LEGISLATURE
My San Antonio.com - Next to education and taxes, nothing brings out the bill writers like business. With the 81st biennial session of the Texas Legislature less than two weeks away, the ink is flowing.
01/13/2009 -- FMLA RULE TWEAKS HELP EASE CONCERNS
Business Insurance - Recent regulations governing the Family and Medical Leave Act, which take effect this week, will help ease employers' administrative burden in some respects, say observers. But the regulations fail to substantively address two major issues for employers: the permitted use of frequent, short periods of intermittent leave and the definition of serious medical conditions, according to observers.
01/13/2009 -- DOL FINALIZES CIVIL PENALTIES AGAINST PLAN SPONSORS
Employee Benefit News - The Department of Labor recently issued final regulations for processing civil penalties against pension plan administrators who fail to furnish certain documents to participants, beneficiaries and others.
01/13/2009 -- FIRMS FIND IT DIFFICULT TO REACH QUALIFIED WORKERS
Dallas Morning News.com - Underlying the dismal turn in the November U.S. jobs report is continued evidence that many companies looking to fill positions are finding it hard to reach workers with suitable qualifications.
01/02/2009 -- HARDENING MARKET COMES AT PAINFUL TIME
Business Insurance - The global property/casualty insurance market is hardening at the very time that many of its commercial customers can least afford it. While the timing of a hard market is never convenient for buyers, it is especially painful at this juncture, when businesses are facing their own financial crises.
Star Telegram.com - Highway crashes, falls and homicides were among the leading causes of 527 work-related fatalities in Texas in 2007, according to a new report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
01/02/2009 -- LOCKOUT/TAGOUT: ARE THE HAZARDS MISUNDERSTOOD?
EHS Today - Today in the American workplace, some 21 people will lose a finger, hand, arm or leg. Even worse, 15 more will die, all because companies do not have the right components in place to comply with one of OSHA's most cited regulations.
01/02/2009 -- CHANGE EMPLOYERS CAN EXPECT
Human Resource Executive - The 2008 presidential and congressional election campaigns were fueled by promises of "change" in Washington and those promises will certainly have an impact on the nation's labor and employment laws.
Investors.com & BLNZ - Political momentum is growing to make everyone buy health insurance — or else. Private health insurers on Wednesday said they could accept laws requiring them to accept all customers — regardless of pre-existing medical conditions — if lawmakers mandate that all Americans purchase coverage.
12/16/2008 -- INSURERS PROPOSE UNIVERSAL, CENTRALIZED HEALTHCARE
Los Angeles Times - Sharpening the emerging debate over how to reshape the country's healthcare system, the major group representing insurers unveiled a proposal Wednesday for covering all Americans in a more centralized insurance market.
12/16/2008 -- S&P: CHALLENGING TIMES LOOM FOR U.S. INSURERS IN 2009
Insurance Journal - The deteriorating U.S. economy - with its waves of layoffs, dislocations in the credit and equity markets, and falling home prices will present a challenge in 2009 for almost every domestic business sector, and insurance is no exception, according to Standard & Poor's Ratings Services.
12/16/2008 -- DEEP RECESSION AND PRICE HIKES FOR INSURANCE EXPECTED
Business Insurance - Economists at Swiss Reinsurance Co. are predicting that current financial market uncertainty is likely to continue well into 2010, and will lead to premium rate increases for insurance and reinsurance for several years to come.
12/16/2008 -- KEEP EMPLOYEES FIT OR COMPANY WILL BECOME FISCALLY UNFIT
San Antonio Business Journal - A staggering 70 percent of the illnesses that employees are being treated for are preventable diseases, meaning that they could have been prevented had they made different lifestyle choices. Smoking, lack of exercise, poor eating habits, stress, and alcohol abuse are all individual behaviors that contribute to overall health care costs.
12/16/2008 -- WORKER ABSENTEEISM SHOWS UP IN BOTTOM LINE
Dallas Morning News - On any given day, about 1,500 J.C. Penney Co. employees are on a leave of absence from one of the company's 1,100 stores across the country. About 1,200 workers a day will be out on disability. It's a problem lamented in human resources offices across North Texas and the nation as lost days of work can add up to big money.
12/02/2008 -- UNIONS PLAN ORGANIZATION PUSH IN TEXAS
Dallas Morning News - Emboldened by their role in electing Barack Obama, labor unions are pushing to make it easier to organize workers in states with historically low levels of union penetration, including Texas. The unions, which include the AFL-CIO and the Change to Win coalition, enhanced their political muscle by campaigning heavily for Mr. Obama, who sponsored several labor-friendly bills during his brief career in the Senate.
Law.com - The Family Medical Leave Act, which has long been a source of litigation and confusion in the workplace, has undergone major changes for the first time in its 15-year history. But those changes may cause still more confusion and litigation, attorneys note.
12/02/2008 -- DOUBLE THE RESULTS: THE TWIN SPINE STUDY
Orthopedics This Week - Avoid smoking, exercise proper posture, put down the heavy loads—then your intervertebral discs should stay flexible and hydrated…right? And your back pain should go away. Not necessarily, says Michele Crites Battié, Ph.D.
Insurance Journal - Texas Mutual Insurance Company and several other insurers say they won a substantial victory Nov. 13 in a Texas appeals court case challenging an abusive pattern of questionable hospital bills for injured workers covered by workers' compensation insurance.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited International Diving Services of Arlington for safety violations following its investigation of an accident in Paris, Texas, in which a diver was killed.
11/13/2008 -- THIRD QUARTER 2008: THE ECONOMY AND SMALL BUSINESS
The U.S. economy experienced weaknesses in the third quarter, as real gross domestic product fell 0.3 percent. Consumers, who helped lift GDP in the second quarter with their economic stimulus checks, reduced their spending by an annualized 3.1 percent in the third quarter, and real gross private domestic investment continued to fall, with an annualized 1.9 percent decline.
11/13/2008 -- IN THE CROSSHAIRS
Risk Management Magazine - In June of this year, Wesley Neal Higdon was sent home from his job at the Atlantis Plastics plant in Henderson, Kentucky following a dispute with a co-worker. Higdon got a gun from his house, returned to work and fatally shot five co-workers, including his supervisor and the co-worker he had originally argued with. He injured another co-worker before finally turning the gun on himself.
Examiner.com - Lots of people are getting into the game of predicting what legislative changes that impact the workplace might be in store in the new Obama administration, so I'll join in, too.
11/13/2008 -- PROGRAM PERSPECTIVES ON HEALTH BENEFITS
Program Perspectives on Health Benefits shows you trends in employer costs for health benefits. The latest data on access, participation, and premiums are also included.
11/13/2008 -- WOMEN MORE LIKELY THAN MEN TO GET HURT IN IT WORKPLACES
PC World - While injuries can occur in any workplace, when something happens at an IT-related business, women employees are more likely to get hurt, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor.
11/02/2008 -- GET READY TO RELEARN THE ADA
Law.com - Get ready to relearn the Americans with Disabilities Act -- by Jan. 1, 2009. New legislation signed last month has defanged a common employer defense, and the changes are going to have real repercussions in the workplace.
11/02/2008 -- FOUR TOP DELL PERSONNEL MANAGERS ALLEGE JOB BIAS
Law.com - Four women, all top personnel managers at Dell Inc., accused the computer giant in a job discrimination class action filed on Wednesday with disproportionate layoffs of women and older workers, as well as limiting promotions and pay for women.
11/02/2008 -- THE LATEST EMPLOYMENT COST INDEX
Total compensation costs for civilian workers increased 0.7 percent, seasonally adjusted, from June to September 2008, the same as the increase in the previous two quarters. For the year ended September 2008,compensation costs rose 2.9 percent. The 12-month increase for September 2007 was 3.3 percent.
11/02/2008 -- ENDGAME: CONSTRUCTION FATALITIES SOAR NATIONWIDE
Southeast Construction - Construction is a dangerous business that attracts a brazen bunch of blue-collar workers willing to log long hours outdoors around heavy, bone-crushing equipment. Jobsites are kinetic, constantly changing environments that demand full attention to do the job and then make it home.
According to the Dow Chemical Company (Dow), it places a high value on safety and health performance; consequently, it has set an aggressive goal as part of its public commitment to local protection of human health and safety and the environment. Dow has targeted 2015 as the year by which it will achieve a global goal of a total worksite injury/illness rate of 0.08 per 200,000 worked-hours.
10/22/2008 -- TEXAS SUPREME COURT REHEARS WORKERS' COMPENSATION CASE
Dallas Morning News - The Texas Supreme Court on Thursday took the unusual step of rehearing a case it decided two years ago after legislators and labor groups said the unanimous ruling hurts workers and ignores the Legislature's interpretations on workers' compensation law.
10/22/2008 -- OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS
This paper outlines the most important issues and opportunities facing small business owners and entrepreneurs in this election year.
According to the report, workplace conflict is rampant throughout the business world, with U.S. companies spending more than 2.8 hours per week which equates to approximately $359 billion in paid hours in 2008.
10/22/2008 -- TEXAS’ UNEMPLOYMENT RATE EDGES UP
Dallas Business Journal - Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged up to 5.1 percent in September, with the Texas Workforce Commission allocating some of the blame to the national economy and Hurricane Ike, which has caused a surge of unemployment claims in portions of the state.
INSIDECRM - With the economy struggling, every business is trying to cut costs to make ends meet. Small businesses, which have fewer resources, especially feel the burn. Not to fear. We’ve come up with a mega-list of ways to trim the fat off your enterprise so you don’t become a casualty of the latest economic downturn.
10/13/2008 -- MCCAIN AND OBAMA ON THE ISSUES
Associated Press - A look at where Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain stand on a selection of issues.
10/13/2008 -- INTERVIEW CHECKLIST--THE 25 FORBIDDEN QUESTIONS
HR.BLR.com - Check each forbidden question to indicate your awareness that it cannot be asked in employment interviews.
Tradingmarkets.com - Federal law restricts employers from asking job candidates about their religion, ethnic background, number of children or pregnancy and health status. Yet, employers have every right to ask for a job candidate's Social Security number, salary requirements and other matters that some people consider private.
Law.com - A recent lawsuit against retail chain Dillard's Inc. is highlighting what some claim is a growing problem in the workplace: employers asking too much information about workers' illnesses when asked for sick leave.
10/13/2008 -- TEXAS SETS WORKERS' COMP BENEFIT RATES
Insurance Journal - The Texas Department of Insurance Division of Workers' Compensation announced that the workers' compensation state average weekly wage for Fiscal Year 2009 is set at $750 and is effective for dates of injury from Oct. 1, 2008, through Sept. 30, 2009.
10/01/2008 -- ADA AMENDMENT MEANS INCREASED BURDENS FOR EMPLOYERS
Market Watch - Last Thursday, President George W. Bush signed into law a measure (S. 3406) that significantly amends the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). BLR(R) expects a significant increase in ADA-related claims and lawsuits will result and encourages employers to prepare quickly and in time for when the amendment becomes law -- Jan 1, 2009.
10/01/2008 -- WHERE DO MCCAIN, OBAMA STAND ON LABOR ISSUES?
PilotOnline.com- It’s hard to mix up the economic proposals of the two presidential candidates. Likewise, when it comes to workplace issues, they tend to lean in predictable ways.
10/01/2008 -- SHOULD BURNED WORKER BE ABLE TO SUE WORKSITE OWNER?
Austin American Statesman - José Herrera had been chasing the good money as a contract worker in oil and gas refineries for 20 years. But the perils of the job were never far behind. "When you work in the refineries, you know the danger," said Herrera, 47, who lives in Baytown with his wife and 11-year-old son. "You don't think about it. You go out there and work and make money and support your family."
10/01/2008 -- USE OF CONTACT LENSES IN AN INDUSTRIAL ENVIRONMENT
ACEOM - Regardless of the reason for wearing them, contact lenses do not fulfill the personal protective equipment requirements for ocular safety when worn by individuals performing eye hazardous tasks. OSHA, in the Code of Federal Regulations, requires individuals who wear contact lenses in the workplace to combine them with appropriate industrial safety eyewear.
09/17/2008 -- EEOC ADDRESSES PERFORMANCE AND CONDUCT ISSUES UNDER ADA
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today issued a comprehensive question-and-answer guide addressing how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to a wide variety of performance and conduct issues.
Dallas Morning News - The state could be on the hook for as much as $2.1 billion because of the massive property damage caused along the Texas Coast by Hurricane Ike.
09/17/2008 -- SENATE MEASURE WOULD EXPAND DISABILITIES ACT
New York Times - The Senate on Thursday approved a major civil rights bill that would expand protections against workplace discrimination for people with disabilities and that would address several Supreme Court rulings that curbed such safeguards in the past decade.
CCH - The presidential election campaign kicked into full gear in late August as the political parties jumped into convention mode. Now’s the time to consider the employment related prescriptions offered by nominees Barack Obama (D) and John McCain (R). Here’s a quick look at the candidates’ platforms on workplace issues.
09/17/2008 -- DOL PROPOSES CHANGE IN WORKPLACE SAFETY RULE MAKING
Business Insurance - The U.S. Department of Labor is proposing a new rule that would require the agency to seek out additional public comment and scientific data on a workplace health hazards before issuing a rule change.
09/17/2008 -- SEXUAL HARASSMENT POLICY = PROTECTION FROM LIABILITY?
HR.blr.com - If an employer maintains a sexual harassment policy and an employee doesn't use it, is the employer then exonerated from liability for sexual harassment?
09/08/2008 -- PREVENTING SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE
Rough Notes - Compared to other employment practices exposures, sexual harassment presents unique management problems—for several reasons.
09/08/2008 -- STUDY FINDS SETTLING IS BETTER THAN GOING TO TRIAL
New York Times - Note to victims of accidents, medical malpractice, broken contracts and the like: When you sue, make a deal. That is the clear lesson of a soon-to-be-released study of civil lawsuits that has found that most of the plaintiffs who decided to pass up a settlement offer and went to trial ended up getting less money than if they had taken that offer.
Washington CEO - More than 70 percent of workplaces in the United States have no formal program or policy to address workplace violence. Yet, as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates, 2 million people each year are victims of workplace violence. Eliminating all such violence may be impossible, but employers can and should confront the problem in the following ways:
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued citations with proposed penalties totaling $149,100 to Texas Linen Co. Ltd. in Austin for one willful, 43 alleged serious and one other-than-serious safety violations.
09/08/2008 -- TRAINING TO SHORT-CIRCUIT WAGE DISPUTES
Workforce Management - Failing to equip managers with at least rudimentary knowledge of labor laws comes with a steep cost. Companies found in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act—the law that governs job classification, overtime pay and record keeping—pay an average of $23.5 million to resolve claims of unpaid overtime and other FLSA-related allegations.
Law.com - Over the last few years, employers who have faced claims of race, gender, age or other prohibited discrimination typically find themselves also litigating separate and distinct claims of retaliation. Plaintiffs now allege not only discriminatory acts by the employer, but also acts in retaliation for the plaintiff's having raised discrimination complaints within the company.
08/22/2008 -- CENSUS DATA PROJECT MORE DIVERSITY AT WORK
USA Today - The U.S. workforce will become increasingly diverse over the next three decades, a shift that could bring changes in education, training and public policy, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Census data released Thursday.
08/22/2008 -- DOL SUES MANAGERS OF TEXAS INDUSTRIAL BENEFIT FUND
Reliable Plant - The U.S. Department of Labor has sued a purported employer association, a health fund trustee, and the fund's consultant over alleged imprudent management of the Manufacturing and Industrial Workers Benefit Fund of Bryan, Texas.
08/22/2008 -- EMPLOYEE THROWS FIT, BREAKS HAND, AWARDED WORKMAN'S COMP
WOWT.com - Employers are raising concerns about a decision to award worker's compensation and medical benefits to a former employee who broke his hand when he lost his temper and hit a trailer.
08/22/2008 -- THE LATEST EMPLOYMENT COST INDEX NEWS RELEASE
Total compensation costs for civilian workers increased 0.7 percent, seasonally adjusted, from March to June 2008, the same as the increase in the previous quarter. For the year ended June 2008, compensation costs rose 3.1 percent; the June 2007 12-month percent increase was 3.3 percent.
08/22/2008 -- EMPLOYEE MOTIVATION: A POWERFUL NEW MODEL
Harvard Business Review - Getting people to do their best work, even in trying circumstances, is one of managers’ most enduring and slippery challenges. Indeed, deciphering what motivates us as human beings is a centuries-old puzzle.
Insurance Journal - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on July 25 announced it has proposed penalties totaling $8,777,500 against Houston-based Imperial Sugar Co. and its two affiliates alleging violations at their plants in Port Wentworth, Ga., and Gramercy, La.
08/07/2008 -- MORE MEN FILING WORKPLACE LAWSUITS
Law.com - Employment and family law attorneys say a growing number of men are filing a wide variety of workplace lawsuits, suing over everything from more leave time to care for their children to sexual harassment.
FedSmith.com - Employees often file EEO complaints and grievances based on actions taken, or not taken, by management. For example, managers and supervisors fill vacant positions; make selections for permanent promotions; detail and temporarily promote employees to other positions; assign performance ratings; and approve training and awards.
08/07/2008 -- SAFE ROAD MAPS
CERS - Welcome to Safe Road Maps! This website is a ground-breaking tool that combines information from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System with Google Maps to give you a visual representation of traffic safety across the entire nation. With this system, you can enter an address and view the roads that have the highest number of traffic fatalities in a specified area.
08/07/2008 -- 10 TIPS FOR NEGOTIATING WORKPLACE CONFLICTS
Conflict happens. It happens in all areas of business. When your employees spend 40 plus hours together each week, they are bound to run into disagreements and arguments that can hurt not only their productivity but the productivity of their fellow co-workers. And if such issues are not settled, bad things can happen.
07/26/2008 -- VACCINATION PLAN PUTS HEALTH CARE WORKERS FIRST
Business Insurance - The HHS plan designates 700,000 "deployed and mission critical personnel" to follow the key health care workers. After that, 300,000 public health workers, 3.2 million inpatient health care providers, 2.5 million outpatient doctors, nurses and other professionals, and 1.6 million long-term care workers would be next to get the vaccine.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of Drug & Alcohol Policy & Compliance (ODAPC) announced the availability of a new document designed to help employers implement the DOT's drug and alcohol testing regulations.
07/26/2008 -- NEW EEOC COMPLIANCE MANUAL ON “RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION”
This Section of the Compliance Manual focuses on religious discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). Title includes provisions requiring reasonable accommodation of employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs, observances, and practices when requested, unless accommodation would impose an undue hardship on business operations.
07/26/2008 -- CITY EYES CLAMPDOWN ON CONTRACTORS' RECORDKEEPING
Houston Chronicle - City Council is set to take up an ordinance today that would require better recordkeeping by construction contractors who do work for the city. The new rules are aimed at making it harder for companies to misclassify skilled workers as "independent contractors," in order to avoid paying Social Security, Medicare, workers' compensation or unemployment insurance.
07/26/2008 -- CONGRESS AIMS TO EXPAND THE ADA
Law.com - Nearly a decade after a series of employment decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court left countless plaintiffs outside the protections of the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act, Congress appears on the verge of undoing much of the high court's handiwork.
07/15/2008 -- COMPANIES EMBRACE PRAISE
The Christian Science Monitor - In the workplace, that recognition takes many forms. Sometimes it's a quiet thank you, other times a bonus or a public award. Either way, it is a gesture that employers ignore at their peril.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued citations with proposed penalties totaling $157,600 to Shelby Stephens Construction Inc., a Fort Worth, Texas-based contractor, for allegedly failing to protect employees from falls and falling objects at two of its worksites in Garland.
Business Insurance - Workplace homicides have declined in the United States since peaking in 1994, but employer vigilance is still necessary, experts say.
HR.blr.com - There are steps employers can take to make them less vulnerable to lawsuits brought by employees or former employees; and if they are sued, there are things they can do to avoid making a bad situation worse.
07/15/2008 -- SIZING UP EMPLOYMENT LAWS
Human Resource Executive - Size of the organization is not always the main factor in determining the applicability of federal -- or state -- labor laws. In addition to a review of the key federal laws, the column this month explores the impact of the ADA and FMLA on workers in treatment programs for drug or alcohol addiction.
Austin American Statesman - A Travis County jury has awarded a man more than $267,000 after deciding that he was fired from an Austin trucking company for refusing to drive an unstable load of steel from Austin to the San Antonio area.
07/08/2008 -- TEXAS MANUFACTURING ACTIVITY WEAKENS IN SURVEY
Dallas Morning News - Texas manufacturing activity weakened in June, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said Monday, citing results from its monthly survey of business executives.
07/08/2008 -- NEW BUSINESS TAX COLLECTS $4.2 BILLION
Austin American Statesman.com - The first tally of Texas' new business tax shows it has generated $4.2 billion so far, but officials say it is too early to tell what the final take will be.
07/08/2008 -- 160 ARRESTED IN IMMIGRATION RAID AT A HOUSTON PLANT
New York Times - Federal immigration agents arrested 160 employees on Wednesday in a raid on a used clothing and rag exporting plant. The authorities said it was the largest workplace raid ever here.
07/08/2008 -- EMPLOYERS REACT TO IRS MIDYEAR MILEAGE HIKE
Austin American Statesman - Area employers Tuesday were evaluating what they pay employees for using their own cars on company business after the Internal Revenue Service raised the allowable mileage deduction rate by eight cents to 58.5 cents a mile.
07/08/2008 -- WHAT JOB INTERVIEWERS SHOULDN’T ASK
Star-Telegram.com - Some of the interviewers suspected that the job candidate was pregnant but knew that the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act forbids them to ask.
Dallas Morning News - Currently, the state allows private businesses to ban weapons on their premises, and guns are prohibited in certain places, such as government buildings and college campuses. Gun proponents hope to see those with concealed-weapon licenses given the right to carry their guns on campuses and to secured areas at the workplace.
07/01/2008 -- ADVICE ON WORKING IN SUMMER HEAT
During this time of year, it is especially important to pay attention to heat stress and other dangers posed by the summer sun. OSHA reminds readers of its free downloadable resources, such as the Heat Stress QuickCard that employees can use to reduce the risk of health ailments from working in hot temperatures.
07/01/2008 -- TEXAS CITIES COULD RESTRICT CAR TRAFFIC
Dallas Business Journal - Hammered by highway congestion, North Texas cities could soon try to pressure large employers to cut the car trips their employees take to work, in exchange for getting major highway construction on adjacent roads.
07/01/2008 -- HEALTH CARE COSTS FOR EMPLOYERS EXPECTED TO RISE
Seattlepi.com - Employer health care costs are poised to rise almost 10 percent in 2008 -- more than double the annual inflation rate -- and nearly that much again in 2009, according to an industry report released Tuesday.
Law.com - The recently revised "Handbook for Employers: Instructions for Completing the Form I-9" notes: "Employment is often the magnet that attracts individuals to reside in the United States illegally. The purpose of the employer sanctions law is to remove this magnet by requiring employers to hire only individuals who may legally work here.
06/25/2008 -- BUSINESS OWNERS FEEL THE FIRST BITE OF EXPANDED TAX
Houston Chronicle - Thousands of business owners paid the state's expanded business tax Monday, many complaining that their tax burden was more than doubled under the new levy.
06/25/2008 -- REPORT: WORKPLACE INJURIES UNREPORTED
Insurance Journal - A congressional report found two out of three work-related illnesses and injuries may be going unreported, and called into question federal regulators' claims that workplace problems are declining.
06/25/2008 -- GAS PRICE CRISIS COULD REVOLUTIONIZE U.S. WORKPLACE
Workforce Management - Soaring gas prices top economic and political agendas, so it’s natural that they also are a topic of conversation at the Society for Human Resource Management Annual Conference & Exposition in Chicago.
06/25/2008 -- SUPREME COURT RULES FOR WORKERS IN AGE BIAS SUIT
Law.com - The Supreme Court made it easier Thursday for employees to prove they have suffered discrimination because of their age. In a 7-1 ruling, the court said that when older workers are disproportionately affected by an employment decision, the employer bears the burden of explaining whether there was a reasonable explanation other than age for the company's action.
06/25/2008 -- SMALL BUSINESSES FIGHT TO SURVIVE IN A TOUGH ECONOMY
Small business is risky business these days. Costs are rising, profits are shrinking and the ability of the big guys to keep prices relatively lower is drawing away customers. Things are so bad that many small enterprises, which account for about 99 percent of the country's businesses, say they are hanging by a thread that may soon snap.
Dallas Morning News - The construction worker who was killed Wednesday when a hook snapped off a crane had only been employed with TXI of Dallas for a short time.
06/17/2008 -- BUSINESSES WARNED OF CORPORATE COMPLIANCE SCAM
Texas Secretary of State Phil Wilson today warned businesses across the state about a company’s solicitation to complete corporate meeting minutes on behalf of Texas corporations for a fee. Despite the implications contained in the solicitation from “State Corporate Compliance”, Texas corporations are not required by law to file corporate minutes with the Secretary of State.
Insurance Journal - There are strong advantages to a system in which businesses facing personal injury lawsuits could promptly pay injured parties for out-of-pocket medical expenses and lost wages while avoiding long court battles, high legal fees and "pain and suffering" damages, according to a new study.
06/17/2008 -- HISPANICS SUFFER HIGHEST US WORKPLACE DEATH RATES
Reuters - Hispanic workers in the United States are killed at work at a 25 percent higher rate than other U.S. workers with many deaths coming in construction, federal health officials said on Thursday.
06/17/2008 -- ERISA ATTACKS THREATEN SELF-INSURED HEALTH BENEFITS
Risk and Insurance - Self-insured employers spending millions of dollars for employee health benefits face increased new costs and regulatory hurdles from state legislatures searching for ways to carry out their healthcare reform initiatives.
06/03/2008 -- TIPS FOR SELECTING A THIRD-PARTY ADMINISTRATOR
CCH.com - Your manager has asked you to do research on hiring a third-party administrator (TPA) to process employees’ health plan claims. When selecting a TPA, what factors should an employer evaluate?
American Medical News - After 13 years of effort by supporters, a measure designed to protect Americans from discrimination based on their genetic information has become law. President Bush signed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act on May 21.
Government Technology - Many enterprises continue to take a narrow "siloed" approach to risk assessment and management, often developing risk practices that are not effective or appropriate to their specific needs, according to Gartner.
In comparison with their urban counterparts, people living in rural areas have been found to experience higher rates of morbidity and mortality and have inferior health outcomes after illnesses and injuries. The current study sought to determine if this trend extends to work-disability outcomes after work-related injuries.
Law.com - In a pair of workplace discrimination cases, the Supreme Court on Tuesday made it easier for workers to sue employers who retaliate against them for reporting bias.
05/26/2008 -- SAFETY HANDBOOKS DO NOT PREVENT INJURIES!
American Chronicle - True or False, Employers can write the most detailed Safety Handbook, hire the most experience supervisors and managers, and their safety program can still be a dismal failure? True. Contrary to popular belief Safety Handbooks do not impact how, when, where or why employees are injured.
National Electrical Contractors Association - Although the new rule states that employers are responsible to pay for almost all types of personal protective equipment (PPE) used on the job by their workers was published last fall with an effective date of February 13, 2008, OSHA will actually begin enforcing it on May 15.
Dallas Morning News - A state commission, citing the fact that four out of five insured Texans now receive health care through preferred provider organizations, urged the Legislature on Wednesday to protect consumers by placing all PPOs under state regulation for the first time.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposes to revise the standards for mandatory training requirements for entry-level operators of commercial motor vehicles in interstate operations who are required to possess a commercial driver’s license.
05/26/2008 -- CONGRESS PASSES ANTI-GENETIC DISCRIMINATION BILL
Find Law - Congress sent President Bush a bill Thursday forbidding employers and insurance companies from using genetic tests showing people are at risk of developing cancer, heart disease or other ailments to reject their job applications, promotions or health care coverage, or in setting premiums.
05/20/2008 -- NEXT LEVEL SAFETY CULTURES
Occupational Health and Safety - Senior managers have become increasingly aware of Safety’s potential returns, well beyond loss reduction. And Safety culture is an especially hot topic among leaders who sense something is missing— that performance could be better. Their instincts are probably right.
05/20/2008 -- PENTAGON WORKERS' COMP PLAN BLASTED
CNN.com - The chairman of a House panel says a Pentagon workers' compensation program for civilian employees in Iraq and Afghanistan is a "flagrant abuse of taxpayer dollars." Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said the program is inefficient and amounts to millions of dollars in "excessive profits" over the past five years for private insurance companies and defense contractors.
05/20/2008 -- DALLAS-BASED RESTAURANT CHAIN SETTLES EEOC LAWSUIT
Wired PR News.com - Razzoo’s Cajun Café, a Dallas-based Cajun food restaurant chain, will pay one million dollars and provide remedial relief to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).
05/20/2008 -- PREVENTING WORKPLACE VIOLENCE
Unhappy employees can result in more than decreased productivity – in extreme cases, their perceptions and actions can lead to violence in the workplace. OccupationalHazards.com spoke to an expert who shed light on how and why employees become capable of workplace violence, and what management can do to prevent potentially dangerous situations from escalating.
Too many small business decision-makers appear to be spending money on workers' compensation insurance coverage without understanding how workers' compensation insurance works, what they get for their premium payments, or why they continue coverage with a particular carrier according to a recent national survey.
05/13/2008 -- HEALTHCARE COSTS PINCH EMPLOYERS
Los Angeles Times - U.S. manufacturers who provide health insurance spend an average of $2.38 per worker per hour on healthcare -- more than twice as much as their foreign competitors, an analysis released Tuesday found. The study provides support for the now-familiar lament of employers -- that rising healthcare costs are eating into the corporate bottom line.
05/13/2008 -- THE ENERGY REPORT 2008
The Energy Report is a reference tool for anyone seeking to understand the current Texas energy environment. Texas remains at the forefront of the nation’s energy industry. The direction Texas takes in energy policy will help mark the path for the nation. Texas — and the rest of the world, for that matter — almost certainly will meet future energy demands using a wide variety of resources, and our state is well positioned to benefit from the increasing diversification of the nation’s energy portfolio.
Occupational Hazards - Carmen Bianco, an executive consultant with Behavioral Safety Technology (BST), asserted that company leaders significantly can influence the effectiveness of injury reduction programs through the cultures they create. If the culture only focuses on productivity, for example, there isn’t much room for safety, Bianco said. But when companies successfully communicate that productivity cannot exist without safety, they can better reduce on-the-job injuries.
05/13/2008 -- FREE DRUG-FREE WORKPLACE KIT
The purpose of this Drug-Free Workplace Kit is to provide public and private workplaces, from small to large and from local to global, with credible, authoritative, evidence-based information, resources, and tools for producing and maintaining drug-free workplace policies and programs.
05/06/2008 -- GAUGING THE ECONOMY
NCCI Holdings - This edition of Gauging the Economy examines the effects of slowing job growth, continued wage gains, the quickening pace of medical care prices and challenging times for investment income. In addition, NCCI examines the industry’s limited exposure to the subprime mortgage mess, and updates the latest investment and interest rate outlook.
05/06/2008 -- WORKERS’ COMPENSATION DECISION DRAWS FIRE
Dallas Blog - Key legislators this week sharply criticized last year’s controversial Texas Supreme Court decision in the case Entergy v. Summers, which established that an injured worker could not sue a premises owner for punitive damages when that owner also meets the definition of a general contractor and has purchased a worker’s compensation insurance plan.
05/06/2008 -- COURT SHOULD REVERSE SELF FOR WORKERS’ SAKES
Austin American Statesman - The Texas Supreme Court has agreed to reconsider its ruling that gave companies new protection from liability for injuries to workers on their property who are not their employees. The court should reverse its earlier ruling because it has misapplied state law and given plant owners less incentive to maintain safe workplaces.
Insurance Journal - People can get more prison time for mail fraud than for violating safety standards that can kill workers, Democratic senators said this week as they called for tougher punishment for workplace fatalities and stricter enforcement from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Watson Wyatt - Most U.S. companies do not support a single-payer health care system or state legislation mandating coverage. Instead, they prefer relying on private-sector solutions, according to research by Watson Wyatt Worldwide, a leading global consulting firm, and the National Business Group on Health.
04/29/2008 -- STATE BUSINESS TAX DRAWS CONCERN
Dallas Morning News - Hundreds of thousands of Texas businesses, fresh from paying their federal income taxes earlier this month, are now busy calculating what they owe the state under its new business tax – and many don't like what the numbers show.
Austin American Statesman - Texas families saw their health insurance premiums soar 40 percent in five years — 10 times faster than their incomes increased, according to a report being released today by a national foundation that promotes health care improvement.
Occupational Health and Safety - On April 22, U.S. Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate HELP Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, asked the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate whether OSHA is effectively working to ensure that employers are accurately reporting injuries and illnesses in the workplace.
04/29/2008 -- LAWMAKERS LOOK AT INJURED WORKER RULING
KVUE.com - Relatives of those killed in a 2005 BP plant explosion and other industrial accident victims urged the Legislature on Monday to undo a Texas Supreme Court ruling in a high-profile workplace injury case.
San Antonio Business Journal - The Texas Workforce Commission has recovered $9.9 million in unpaid wages on behalf of workers across the state in 2006 and 2007. The state agency collected the back wages through its enforcement of the Texas Payday Law, which requires private employers to provide workers with compensation in a timely manner.
04/22/2008 -- TEXAS PASSES NEW YORK ON FORTUNE 500 LIST
Dallas Morning News - Texas is king of the hill when it comes to corporate headquarters. The Lone Star State passed New York as home to the most big companies in the latest list compiled by Fortune magazine. Texas now boasts 58 headquarters, three more than New York, the previous No. 1, and California, with 52.
04/22/2008 -- SMALL FIRMS HIT HARDEST BY RISING ENERGY COSTS
Small firms are hardest hit by rising energy costs, according to a study released today by the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The small manufacturing and small commercial sectors top the list of burdened industries, on an energy cost per value of industry shipments and an energy cost per sales basis.
Occupational Hazards - Carmen Bianco, an executive consultant with Behavioral Safety Technology (BST), asserted that company leaders significantly can influence the effectiveness of injury reduction programs through the cultures they create. If the culture only focuses on productivity, for example, there isn’t much room for safety, Bianco said. But when companies successfully communicate that productivity cannot exist without safety, they can better reduce on-the-job injuries.
04/16/2008 -- CONFUSION, FRUSTRATION RAMPANT OVER NEW BUSINESS TAX
Austin American Statesman - With rising fuel prices and a slowing economy, these are tough times for Bilbo Transports Inc., a family-owned trucking company based in Irving. Times are about to get tougher, company Vice President Mike George said, when a new state business tax comes due a month from today.
Dallas based Vought Aircraft Industries Inc. has entered into a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to settle allegations of hiring discrimination based on race and gender and agreed to pay $1.5 million in back wages to 1,045 applicants.
04/16/2008 -- TEXAS SUPREME COURT TO REHEAR ENTERGY WORKERS' COMP CASE
Insurance Journal - The Texas Supreme Court has agreed to rehear a case from Jefferson County dealing with the scope of the state workers' compensation law. The court has not yet set the date for new arguments but said April 5 it will rehear Entergy Gulf States Incorporated versus John Summers.
RAND - The economic burden of providing health insurance for workers increased more for small businesses than for large ones from 2000 to 2005, but the spike did not cause a significant number of small employers to abandon the benefit, according to a study issued today by the RAND Corporation.
Occupational Hazards - Companies demonstrating a “dangerous pattern of disregarding worker safety” must receive stricter penalties and stronger criminal provisions, a trade union expert told members of the Senate Employment and Workplace Protections Subcommittee of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee during an April 1 hearing.
04/07/2008 -- DALLAS-FORT WORTH LEADS METRO AREAS IN NUMERICAL GROWTH
Dallas-Fort Worth had the largest numeric gain of any metro area between 2006 and 2007, increasing by 162,250, according to July 1, 2007, estimates of metro area population size and growth released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Atlanta (151,063), Phoenix (132,513) and Houston (120,544) rounded out the metro areas with a gain of at least 100,000.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced it has settled its class sexual harassment lawsuit against the Dillard’s department store chain for $500,000 and substantial remedial relief on behalf of a class of 12 female former employees who were sexually harassed by an assistant store manager in two states.
Law.com - In what is clearly a positive development for employers, in December 2007 the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) settled a long-running dispute, and definitively held that an employer may prohibit a union, or employees seeking to solicit or organize for a union, from using company e-mail systems to communicate -- an issue that has been subject to debate for a number of years.
Occupational Hazards - In a new study, George Washington University researchers concluded that 15 percent of workers in the hospitality/leisure industry suffer from serious alcohol-related problems, resulting in the highest alcohol dependence rate of all studied sectors. In contrast, approximately 8 percent of the U.S. population has a diagnosable alcohol problem.
03/25/2008 -- PUT YOUR DISASTER PLAN TO THE TEST
Buildings.com - The problem with disasters is that you never know when they're going to happen. Today? Tomorrow? Next year? Never? The only way to deal with them is to prepare for them. Establishing an in-case-of-emergency plan is a necessary first step.
03/25/2008 -- POLITICAL PENDULUM SWINGS TOWARD STRICTER REGULATION
Wall Street Journal - The idea that less regulation is better for the economy has held sway in Washington since the Reagan administration. Now that consensus is crumbling, posing a potentially costly challenge to business no matter who wins the White House in November.
03/25/2008 -- TALENT SHORTAGE EMERGES AS NO. 1 EMPLOYER CONCERN
PR Newswire - A shortage of skilled and talented workers has become the most pressing concern among employers, supplanting the perennial leading problem, rising cost of health care, according to the 14th annual Top Five Total Rewards Priorities survey conducted by Deloitte Consulting LLP (Deloitte) and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS).
03/25/2008 -- UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS SURGE IN LATEST WEEK
CNNMoney.com - New filings for unemployment claims rose more than expected last week, matching the highest level since 2005, according to a report released Thursday by the Labor Department.
03/25/2008 -- STARBUCKS RULING: PAY $105 MILLION IN TIPS CASE
SignOnSanDiego.com - A San Diego Superior Court judge ruled yesterday that Starbucks has to pay nearly $106 million in restitution to an estimated 120,000 current and former baristas in California because the coffee company illegally allowed supervisors to share in tip pools over the past eight years.
03/18/2008 -- DID EMPLOYEE'S DEPRESSION STEM FROM WORK INJURY?
HR.blr.com - When an employee suffers from depression in addition to a work-related physical injury, it can be difficult to determine whether the depression stems from the injury or from other causes in life outside the workplace. A Texas court of appeals recently faced that type of quandary.
03/18/2008 -- COMP INSURERS FACE DECLINING RATES: S&P
Business Insurance - Workers compensation insurers are likely to face falling rates this year, according to an article published Thursday by New York-based Standard & Poor’s Corp. The article—“Weakening Rates Could Squeeze U.S. Workers Comp Insurers Later This Year”—says rates have been declining, which is significantly reducing the margins of workers comp insurers.
The Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health has notified 14,000 employers nationwide that their injury and illness rates are considerably higher than the national average.
03/18/2008 -- INSURERS' PROFITS IN TEXAS PROMPT CALLS FOR LOWER RATES
Dallas Morning News - Texas insurers were virtually untouched by the slowing economy in 2007 as they recorded one of their most profitable years of the decade, prompting new calls for tougher state action on homeowner rates. New financial reports released Wednesday by the Texas Department of Insurance indicated that most companies had another year of solid earnings as they marked their fifth straight year of beating or equaling a standard benchmark for reasonable profits.
Livescience.com - Workplace bullying could cause more harm to employees than sexual harassment, researchers say. Belittling comments, exclusion from outings and criticism of work may seem relatively benign and get brushed off by business higher-ups as "kid's stuff." But the consequences to employees and even the bottom line are far from child's play.
03/11/2008 -- DROP-OFF IN COMPUTER WORKPLACE INJURIES CITED
EWEEK.com - Among the numerous perils of computer-facing work--including repetitive stress ailments such as postural syndrome, eye strain and tendonitis--carpal tunnel is the best known, as it has received the most press. During the personal computing boon of the 1990s, its frequency among white collar professionals was considered to be at epidemic levels.
03/11/2008 -- TEXAS TOWNS LEAD NATION IN LABOR FORCE GROWTH
Three Texas cities had the fastest-growing labor force in the nation from 2000 to 2005, according to a new book released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Of cities with populations of 25,000 or more, Frisco had 73.5 percent labor force growth, followed by Cedar Park (66 percent) and McKinney (52.5 percent). These were followed by Carmel, Ind. (49.9 percent); and Dania Beach, Fla. (45 percent.
Risk and Insurance - Researchers examine 1,676 providers in 19 states to determine if and why neurologists would accept workers' comp payments based on a fee schedule. This study by Steven E. Levine, M.D., Ph.D. and Ronald N. Kent, both California-based physicians, looks at medical practices in 19 states and finds that boycotting by specialists begins to spread when reimbursement, before any PPO discounts, is set low.
PR Newswire & Fox Business - With a persistent new strain of flu affecting workers nationwide, employers may need to be more assertive to help keep the workplace healthy at the height of flu season.
Occupational Health and Safety - A study conducted of residents living near BP's Texas City refinery, the site of an explosion that killed 15 people in 2005, suffered a perceived decline in mental and physical health following the blast.
03/04/2008 -- PLAN SPONSORS PAYING A LOT MORE IN FEES, STUDY FINDS
Financial Week - Average fees paid by pension plans worldwide have jumped 50% over the past five years, with active managers making up the bulk of the increase, according to a new report by Watson Wyatt Worldwide.
Government Executive - A program managed by the Labor Department to compensate employees for on-the-job injuries issued $13.3 million in improper payments in 2006, according to a new report the from the Government Accountability Office.
Findlaw - Last week, the Supreme Court issued an important Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) opinion, Federal Express Corp. v. Holowecki. Specifically, the Court considered whether a plaintiff had complied with the necessary procedural formalities required under the ADEA before filing a lawsuit.
03/04/2008 -- OSHA TO INSPECT DUST-PRONE FACTORIES
Associated Press - Federal inspections will be carried out at hundreds of plants where combustible dust is a workplace hazard. OSHA reported that its sending letters to 30,000 companies that deal with combustible dust to discuss the dangers.
Between October 2001 and February, 2008, more than 30,000 veterans returned home with service-connected disabilities (e.g., amputations, burns, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and traumatic brain injuries). At least two federal laws provide important protections for veterans with disabilities.
HR.BLR.com - Medical benefits accounted for the largest share of employer benefit costs at 12.1 percent in 2006, followed by retirement benefits at 10.4 percent.
Law. Com - The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that individual participants in the most common type of retirement plan can sue under a pension protection law to recover their losses. The unanimous decision has implications for 50 million workers with $2.7 trillion invested in 401(k) retirement plans. James LaRue of Southlake, Texas, said the value of his stock market holdings plunged $150,000 when administrators at his retirement plan failed to follow his instructions to switch to safer investments.
02/25/2008 -- THE BIG DISCRIMINATION CASE BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT
SLATE - In last year's Supreme Court sleeper case, a woman named Lily Ledbetter lost her right to sue because she didn't go to court the first time her paycheck was docked because of sex discrimination, as opposed to when she later realized she was being shortchanged.
02/25/2008 -- 10 WAYS WE GET THE ODDS WRONG
Psychology Today - Our brains are terrible at assessing modern risks. Here's how to think straight about dangers in your midst.
02/25/2008 -- THE PRICE OF PAIN
Newsweek - A new study reveals that Americans are spending record amounts on treatments for their aching backs. But are these expensive fixes a waste of money?
Medical News Today - In contrast to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggesting that spine-related expenditures have increased without evidence of improvement, best evidence suggests that patients who receive physical therapy for musculoskeletal disorders, including back and neck pain, report good outcomes at a lower cost than using drugs or surgery.
Law.com & Texas Lawyer - Last July, Waco, Texas' 10th Court of Appeals rejected former Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Chad Hennings' workers' compensation claim, holding in a case of first impression that professional athletes cannot receive workers' comp. But after seeking a rehearing, Hennings has won in overtime.
02/18/2008 -- VERY STRANGE BEDFELLOWS
Galen Institute - The National Federation of Independent Business has been one of the stalwart defenders of health freedom. But its recent association with two activist liberal groups is raising eyebrows around town.
Daily Report - Talk isn't always cheap, as International Paper Co. learned recently when it agreed to pay $5.2 million to settle a personal injury suit related, at least in part, to one of its employees' use of a cell phone while driving.
Insurance Journal - An alleged failure to protect employees from safety hazards has brought Kaufman, Texas-based Metroplex Masonry Inc. $210,000 in proposed penalties from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
HR.BLR.COM - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that a federal district court jury returned a verdict yesterday for the EEOC in the amount of $110,000 against a Houston dry cleaner for sexual harassment. The EEOC had charged that the owner of Bellair Cleaners, Inc., doing business as Park Avenue Cleaners, Bellair Cleaners, and Your Valet (Park Avenue Cleaners), harassed a female employee, then aged 19, and other women.
02/18/2008 -- BODY ART ON THE RISE BUT NOT SO TRENDY AT WORK
Newswise - Body art is a growing fashion trend, and while acceptable in some environments, in the workplace visible tattoos and facial piercings are often seen as unprofessional and unwanted by coworkers. “Body art can lead to stereotyping, stigmatization, and prejudices in the workplace,” said management professor Brian K. Miller, who recently teamed with two fellow Texas State University professors to conduct a scenario-based experiment on how body art is perceived at work.
02/12/2008 -- PROPOSED FMLA RULES RESOLVE KEY ISSUES
Business Insurance - Newly proposed Labor Department regulations governing the Family and Medical Leave Act will ease many administrative problems that employers have faced in trying to comply with the law, experts say. The proposed FMLA regulations, released late last week, would update rules that the Labor Department published following enactment of the 1993 law, which requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a year after the birth or adoption of a child; to care for a sick child, parent or spouse; or when an employee has a serious illness.
A Temple, Texas company has agreed to pay $1,559,316 in overtime back wages to 570 current and former retail merchandising specialists nationwide after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division found that the company had misclassified employees and did not pay overtime wages required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
02/12/2008 -- WORKPLACE CONFLICTS TAKE A TOLL ON WORKERS
Market Day - On Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, fists may be more prevalent than flowers at some offices, researchers who focus on workplace dynamics said Thursday. "Much and more-deserved attention is being given to workplace hostility," said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer at the Chicago-based outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray and Christmas.
Occupational Hazards - Health care providers can implement intensive, individual educational sessions to help patients with short-term lower back pain return to work more quickly, new research suggests.
02/12/2008 -- QUARTERLY INDICATORS: THE ECONOMY AND SMALL BUSINESS
The U.S. economy was weaker in the fourth quarter of 2007, with real GDP ending the year at a 0.6 percent annualized growth rate. Unemployment rose to 5.0 percent in December 2007, its highest level since April 2005, with nearly all of the net job gains in 2007 stemmed from service industries.
02/05/2008 -- LABOR UNIONS ARE BACK, BLS CONFIRMS
Occupational Health and Safety - The number of U.S. workers who belong to a union rose by 311,000 to 15.7 million last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. BLS said union members accounted for 12.1 percent of employed wage and salary workers, "essentially unchanged from 12.0 percent in 2006." The growing Service Employees International Union, however, trumpeted the news, saying this is the first time in 25 years that union members' share has increased.
02/05/2008 -- THE LATEST EMPLOYMENT COST INDEX NEWS RELEASE
Bureau of Labor Statistics - Total compensation costs for civilian workers increased 0.8 percent, seasonally adjusted, from September to December 2007, the same as the previous quarter. Over the year, compensation costs rose 3.3 percent, also the same as the December 2006 12-month percent change.
02/05/2008 -- SEVEN THINGS EMPLOYEES WANT MOST TO BE HAPPY AT WORK
Christian Science Monitor - Ask bosses what makes employees happy at work, and many are likely to think in terms of tangible rewards: a good salary, a pleasant office, generous benefits. Those play a role in job satisfaction, of course. But increasingly, workplace specialists are discovering that for many workers, the "happiness factor" depends heavily on intangibles, such as respect, trust, and fairness.
02/05/2008 -- CHRONICLING OSHA IN 2007: THE YEAR AHEAD
Occupational Hazards - Super Tuesday is finally here, sending voters in 24 states to the polls to cast their presidential primary ballots. There’s no doubt that safety and health stakeholders will tune in to learn the outcome, as many strongly feel that a new administration – especially a Democratic one – will impact the way OSHA operates.
02/05/2008 -- POSSIBLE HITS BY THE SUPREMES
Human Resource Executive Online - The High Court has accepted almost a dozen new employment-discrimination cases for review, in addition to several that were argued last year but have not yet been ruled on. New hurdles for employers could result.
01/28/2008 -- EMPLOYERS FAVOR PRIVATE-INDUSTRY REFORMS
Employee Benefit News - Employers don't seem to have much faith that the next president will produce significant health care reform, according to a new survey from Employee Benefit News and CBIZ Benefits & Insurance. However, they are putting their faith in some private-sector initiatives to reduce health care costs and make coverage more affordable, including onsite wellness programs, disease management and cutting medical malpractice settlements.
01/28/2008 -- INJURED EMPLOYEES WORKING LONG HOURS FACE JOB LOSS RISKS
Occupational Hazards - Employees going back to work after being injured on the job face a higher risk of losing their employment if their positions require them to work more than 12 hours a day or 60 hours a week, new research suggests.
Business Insurance - Legislation given final congressional approval Tuesday would expand the federal Family and Medical Leave Act to allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave when a spouse, son, daughter or parent is on active duty in the Armed Forces or is called up for active duty in support of a contingency operation.
01/28/2008 -- REVISED TEXAS FRANCHISE TAX WEBINARS
Business taxpayers with questions about the revised Texas franchise tax can learn the basics and more during four online seminars hosted by the state Comptroller’s office on Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 4 and 5. More will be scheduled at later dates. Participants must register in advance and may choose to view all of the online sessions, or select only the presentations they need.
Dallas Morning News - As employers face increasing pressure from states and in the courts to more closely police Social Security numbers of undocumented workers, some in Texas say that's not their job and that such action could hammer the economy. "What if some of my best guys turn out to be illegal?" said Lisa Galvan, who runs five Luna de Noche restaurants in the Dallas area and employs 200 workers. "It is scary."
EEOC - A federal court has granted final approval for a $6.2 million partial settlement for black and Hispanic sheet metal workers who suffered discrimination by their union, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
01/23/2008 -- CHRONICLING OSHA IN 2007: CONGRESSIONAL IMPACT
Occupational Hazards - During 2007, Congress introduced legislation to compel OSHA to take immediate action on safety and health issues that were previously relegated to the back burner. For example, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, introduced a measure to require OSHA to issue a rule protecting food processing workers from the chemical flavoring agent diacetyl, which has been linked to bronchiolitis obliterans, or “popcorn lung.”
01/23/2008 -- TEXAS GAINS THE MOST JOBS
Dallas Morning News - Texas added 18,600 nonfarm jobs in December, more than any other state, according to preliminary figures released Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission and the U.S. Department of Labor. But the report had some bad news as well: The state's unemployment rate rose to 4.5 percent from 4.2 percent in November. It was still below the national average of 5 percent.
Occupational Health & Safety - Rehabilitation specialists guiding injured workers back to full-time employment should factor unconventional work schedules into their assessments and planning, new research suggests. Workers who are injured on the job have a harder time returning to employment if their schedules routinely require them to work extended hours, according to an Ohio State University study.
01/23/2008 -- CEO’S WEIGH IN ON BEST, WORST STATES TO DO BUSINESS
Yahoo Finance - Texas, Nevada, North Carolina Top List as Best States; California, New York, Michigan Are the Worst.
Insurance Journal - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed $118,350 in penalties against Round Rock, Texas-based TECO-Westinghouse Motor Co. for the alleged failure to protect employees from safety hazards. The citation follows a fatality at the facility in July 2007.
01/16/2008 -- PUBLIC HEARING ON PROPOSED MEDICAL BILL RULES
A public hearing regarding medical bill disputes in the workers’ compensation system will be held on Feb. 4, 2008 at the will be held at the Texas Department of Insurance Division of Workers' Compensation
01/16/2008 -- EMPLOYER FMLA FRUSTRATIONS MAY RISE WITH FIRST EXTENSION
Workforce Management - Employer frustrations with a federal employee leave law may be exacerbated as it expands for the first time since its enactment in 1993.
01/16/2008 -- TIPS: SICK EMPLOYEES AT WORK
Occupational Health and Safety - As flu season gets under way, employers are gearing up for more sick employees dragging themselves -- and their germs -- in to work. According to findings of the 2007 CCH Unscheduled Absence Survey, 87 percent of employers report that sick employees who show up to work are suffering from short-term illnesses such as a cold or flu, which can be easily spread.
American Chronicle - The same problems that plagued people in ancient times are still with us today. People are still rude, selfish, insensitive, and difficult -- some of the time. Unfortunately, you may be forced to work with these difficult people. That's life. In fact, a University of North Carolina survey found that 78% of the respondents think rudeness and incivility have increased in the last decade. And every one of the respondents could cite examples of co-workers who had caused workplace conflicts or treated them in a disrespectful manner.
01/07/2008 -- LOCKHEED MARTIN SETTLEMENT SENDS POWERFUL MESSAGE
SHRM - A victim of racial harassment and employment discrimination during his employment at Lockheed Martin has won $2.5 million in what the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) calls one of the largest recoveries for an individual case. The lawsuit against the Fortune 100 corporation and the world’s largest military contractor includes an agreement from the Bethesda, Md.-based company to terminate the four co-workers and the supervisor who harassed former employee and Navy veteran Charles Daniels, and to make significant policy changes to address any future discrimination, the EEOC said during a Jan. 3, 2007, news conference in Hawaii.
Newswise - New research suggests that at any given time, almost 10 percent of the emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics in the United States miss work because of injuries and illnesses they suffered on the job. A study examining how common these injuries are and tracking new cases of work-related injuries and illnesses in these professionals also suggests that in one year, an estimated 8.1 of every 100 emergency responders will suffer an injury or illness forcing them to miss work. Compared to data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of injuries requiring work absence among these first responders far exceeds the national average of 1.3 per 100 lost-work injury cases reported in 2006.
Welding Magazine - For the second year in a row, a survey of safety professionals has found that noncompliance with personal protective equipment (PPE) protocols continues to be an issue in the workplace. Eighty-seven percent of respondents said they had observed workers failing to wear PPE when they should have been, according to a survey of attendees at the 2007 National Safety Council (NSC) Congress, conducted by Kimberly-Clark Professional. Eighty-five percent of safety professionals answered yes to the same question in a survey undertaken by Kimberly-Clark Professional at the 2006 NSC Congress.
01/07/2008 -- MARGIN TAX WILL PACK PUNCH
Houston Chronicle - When the new Texas margin tax kicks in this year, many businesses will get hit with a surprise tax bill costing them several thousand dollars. Under a new state law that replaces the franchise tax with a margin tax, businesses will pay based on gross revenues. The number of companies paying taxes will rise to 900,000 in May 2008 from 700,000 in 2007. The amount of state business taxes paid is expected to more than double to $11.9 billion during the next two years versus $5.7 billion for the last two-year period under the outgoing franchise tax, according to the Texas Comptroller's Office.
01/07/2008 -- SURVEY: TEXAS MANUFACTURING ACTIVITY CONTINUES SLUMP
Austin Business Journal - A survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas shows activity in Texas factories continues a decline that began in early spring. According to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey, all current production and general business conditions indicators fell further into negative territory in December. "It's important to note that the indexes are not seasonally adjusted, and there appears to be a pattern of December weakness over the past two years," economist Fiona Sigalla said in a news release.
01/01/2008 -- SIX TIPS TO MANAGING WORKPLACE CONFLICT
CNN.com - Human resource managers report spending 24 to 60 percent of their time dealing with employee disputes. The number of violent incidents in the workplace has been increasing steadily, according to a study by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM). Nearly 60 percent of respondents said violence had occurred in their organization during the past three years, and they identified "personality conflicts" as the leading cause.
USA Today - Most U.S. employers plan to keep their payrolls stable early next year, according to a survey out Wednesday that points to a steady, but not stellar, employment environment heading into 2008.
01/01/2008 -- SENATE VOTES TO EXPAND FMLA
HR.BLR.com - The U.S. Senate has voted 90-3 to approve legislation that includes a provision that would allow employees to use leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act in certain circumstances.
The amendments contained in this document are necessary to conform the annual reporting and disclosure regulations to revisions to the Form 5500 Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan.
01/01/2008 -- DID OFFICIATING LAWSUIT CROSS THE LINE?
Star Telegram.com - A workers' compensation insurance carrier for the San Antonio school district filed a $10 million lawsuit against five officials and the Texas Association of Sports Officials, alleging their negligence led to a sideline collision and the serious brain injury of a Brackenridge High School assistant coach.
01/01/2008 -- LAWMAKERS, WORKERS CRITICIZE COURT'S LIABILITY RULING
Insurance Journal - Four lawmakers and the Texas AFL-CIO have asked the Texas Supreme Court to reverse its decision in a case they say incorrectly expands liability protections for employers under state workers' compensation laws. The court's Aug. 31 ruling in the case of Entergy vs. Summers contradicts state law, the legislators argued in a brief filed with the court.
12/14/2007 -- ECONOMIC OUTLOOK AND IMPACT ON WORKERS COMPENSATION
NCCI - Job growth is expected to slow in 2008, as the combination of weakness in housing, the recent turmoil in financial markets, and high oil prices undercut growth in both consumer spending and business investment. Slower job growth suggests less upward pressure on claim frequency since fewer inexperienced/less trained workers are added to payrolls.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today published in the Federal Register a proposed rule to enhance the protection provided to construction employees working in confined spaces. The agency is accepting public comments on the proposed standard until January 28, 2008.
According to a recent report by investment bank Goldman Sachs JBWere, companies that failed to adequately manage workplace health and safety issues underperformed their more socially responsible counterparts. The report found that investors could have increased returns dramatically over the past four years had they incorporated WHS measures into their investment strategy.
12/14/2007 -- EMPLOYER COSTS FOR EMPLOYEE COMPENSATION
Bureau of Labor Statistics - Employer costs for employee compensation for civilian workers averaged $28.03 per hour worked in September 2007, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Wages and salaries, which averaged $19.56, accounted for 69.8 percent of these costs, while benefits, which averaged $8.47, accounted for the remaining 30.2 percent. Employers averaged $2.35 for life, health, and disability insurance or 8.4 percent of total compensation.
U.S. Department of Labor - Under ERISA, plan fiduciaries are obligated to act prudently in selecting service providers and ensure that no more than reasonable compensation is paid for services provided to plans, taking into account the direct and indirect compensation received by the service provider.
12/07/2007 -- HAS TORT REFORM WORKED TOO WELL IN TEXAS?
Insurance Journal - The Texas Legislature enacted tort reform measures in 2003 that among other things placed a $250,000 cap on non-economic damage awards against individual health care practitioners, a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages against single health care institutions and a $500,000 cap on non-economic damages against combined health care institutions in a single case.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today issued an extensive fact sheet on the application of federal anti-discrimination laws to employer tests and other selection procedures to screen applicants for hire and employees for promotion. The new technical assistance document is available on the agency’s web site.
12/07/2007 -- WORKPLACE CELL PHONE POLICIES
Inc.com - Employers can be liable for road accidents caused by worker cell phone use. A strict safety policy can help. While text messaging, photos, and Internet access have boosted the popularity of cell phones in the workplace, they've also increased the potential headaches for employers. These include everything from productivity and privacy issues, to the risks of legal liability for accidents caused by employees using cell phones for work-related calls behind the wheel.
Crain’s Cleveland Business - Although employee handbooks can provide protection from legal minefields, the informal culture of most small businesses often trumps a heavy reliance on rule books and policy manuals. While it’s difficult to know exactly how many small businesses rely on handbooks and policy manuals, some attorneys say that the documentation no doubt can help a company with a defense when confronted by employee or government lawsuits.
12/07/2007 -- PRESIDENTIAL RACE REVIVES WORKPLACE DEBATE
Washington Times - A Democratic victory in the 2008 presidential election would reignite the fight between big labor and big business over a contentious workplace-safety issue. The mere mention of ergonomics, the arcane science that has come to symbolize workplace injuries ranging from sore backs to carpal tunnel syndrome, can cause employers pain. But to the nation's labor unions, ergonomics — leading to the No. 1 cause of workplace injuries in the United States — is an issue of the utmost importance.
12/07/2007 -- BUSINESS LOBBY PRESSES AGENDA BEFORE ’08 VOTE
New York Times - Business lobbyists, nervously anticipating Democratic gains in next year’s elections, are racing to secure final approval for a wide range of health, safety, labor and economic rules, in the belief that they can get better deals from the Bush administration than from its successor.
11/27/2007 -- TEXAS JOBLESS RATE DROPS TO 4.1% - LOWEST IN 31 YEARS
DallasNews.com - Texas may be insulated from the worst of the subprime mortgage mess and the fears of a weakening national economy, but it's already feeling some of the pain. Friday's October jobs figures for the state show continued growth – but at a much slower pace than the robust job creation the state enjoyed in 2006.
The Modesto Bee - The owners of Mallard's Restaurant in Modesto will have to pay a $100,000 state citation for failure to have workers compensation insurance, while an investigation into other restaurant practices continues.
11/27/2007 -- REVISED RULE FOR EMPLOYERS THAT HIRE IMMIGRANTS
New York Times - The Bush administration will suspend its legal defense of a new rule issued in August to punish employers who hire illegal immigrants, conceding a hard-fought opening round in a court battle over a central measure in its strategy to curb illegal immigration according to government papers filed late Friday in federal court. Instead, the administration plans to revise the rule to try to meet concerns raised by a federal judge and issue it again by late March, hoping to pass court scrutiny on the second try.
JURIST - The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in LaRue v. DeWolff, Boberg & Associates a case where the Court considered whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) allows an employee to sue for losses incurred when administrators of his retirement plan ignore his instructions on how to invest his retirement money.
11/27/2007 -- COURT: TELECOMMUTERS ELIGIABLE FOR WORKERS' COMP
Jacksonsun.com - Telecommuters or employees who work at home are entitled to workers' compensation benefits if they are injured while working, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled. The decision issued on Friday was the first time the high court applied the same compensation laws to employees who don't work in a traditional office or factory. However, the court ruled that the Nashville woman who brought the case was not due compensation because the injuries she suffered were not work-related. Some believe the ruling could result in more claims by people who work at home.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA) today announced a final rule on employer-paid personal protective equipment (PPE). Under the rule, all PPE, with a few exceptions, will be provided at no cost to the employee. OSHA anticipates that this rule will have substantial safety benefits that will result in more than 21,000 fewer occupational injuries per year. The rule will be published in the Federal Register on November 15, 2007.
NCCI Holdings Inc., - The emergency room (ER) is often the first stop for workers who are injured on the job. The ER provides initial treatment for a wide range of injuries and illnesses, some of a routine nature and others that are potentially life-threatening or require immediate attention. This study examines the extent to which the age of an injured worker is a factor in both the utilization of emergency services (number of ER services per claim) and the price of those services (measured in terms of payment per service). The study uses data on workers compensation claims and related medical detail for the period 1996–2003.
11/14/2007 -- MRSA AND THE WORKPLACE
Staphylococcus aureus, often referred to simply as "staph," is a type of bacteria commonly carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. Sometimes, staph can cause an infection. Staph bacteria are one of the most common causes of skin infections in the United States. Most of these skin infections are minor (such as pustules and boils) and can be treated without antibiotics. However, staph bacteria also can cause serious infections (such as surgical wound infections, bloodstream infections, and pneumonia).
11/14/2007 -- INSURING FOR WORKPLACE VIOLENCE
Risk Management Magazine - Incidents of workplace violence can be devastating for a company's reputation and relationship with its employees. Employees generally expect that they will be provided with a safe working environment, and reasonable employers aim to provide one. When violence does occur, however, the human tragedy frequently yields financial difficulty, lawsuits and liability. Many employers do not realize that their insurance companies may defend and pay to settle workplace violence lawsuits. Obtaining insurance recovery may be important not only for the employer, but for the victim as well. Although some employers seem to have deep pockets, many of those pockets are actually quite shallow in light of the loss as the cost of care for survivors of workplace violence can reach millions of dollars.
The Department of Homeland Security today released Appendix A of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), a critical element of its chemical security efforts. The appendix contains a list of chemicals that, if possessed by a facility in a specified quantity, trigger a requirement to complete and submit an easy-to-use, online consequence assessment tool called a Top-Screen.
11/06/2007 -- FLUSHING OUT THE FREQUENT FLYERS
Risk and Insurance - In 2001, the Houston Independent School District had 150 employees with five or more previous claims under their belts and who were out of work collecting workers' compensation. One person had racked up 17 claims over the previous five years.
TechRepublic - The IT industry can be a cruel career sector. According to an industry survey just a few years ago, tech professionals are viewed as old and seniors (in terms of age) when they hit their early to mid-40s. And that isn’t the worst of it — while older professionals in most industries are valued for having more experience and expertise, it’s the opposite within the tech community.
11/06/2007 -- MAKING EMPLOYEE HANDBOOKS A PRIORITY
Professional Roofing - When is the last time you reviewed or updated your employee handbook? Do you even have an employee handbook? Have you ever? Although thinking about an employee handbook may get lost on what surely is a long list of employment-related (and other) concerns, you should consider moving it up on your list.
11/06/2007 -- REDUCING SLIPS, TRIPS AND FALLS IN STAIRWAYS
Occupational Hazards - With over 8 million people treated for fall-related injuries in 2004, falls are the leading cause of nonfatal unintentional injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms, according to the All Injury Program, a cooperative program involving the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. A combination of deficiencies in design, lighting, visibility and attention are usually the culprits in stairway slips, trips and falls.
11/06/2007 -- WORKPLACE INJURIES AND ILLNESSES IN 2006
Nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses among private industry employers in 2006 occurred at a rate of 4.4 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers—a decline from 4.6 cases in 2005. Similarly, the number of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses reported in 2006 declined to 4.1 million cases, compared to 4.2 million cases in 2005. These findings were reported today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor.
The Metropolitan Corprate Counsel - Virtually all states have adopted the doctrine of employment at-will. This means that an employer may, without notice, terminate an employee for any reason or no reason at all. There are well-known exceptions to the employment at-will doctrine. For example, anti-discrimination statutes prohibit terminating an employee on the basis of his or her race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability or other protected characteristics. Most states prohibit terminating an employee in retaliation for asserting his or her workers' compensation rights or for reporting the employer's alleged misconduct to a law enforcement agency.
The Hill - Retailers and manufacturers are pressing for wholesale changes to a bill backed by Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) that would increase penalties on companies violating the Consumer Product Safety Act and require more public disclosure about allegedly defective products.
10/31/2007 -- HOW COMPANIES CAN ENCOURAGE INNOVATION
Christian Science Monitor - "We're moving from an industrial economy to a creative economy," says Richard Florida, author of "The Rise of the Creative Class," although he notes that the transformation is still in its infancy. The creative sector, which he says is made up of "people who think for a living," includes such fields as science, technology, arts, culture, design, law, healthcare, and education. These creative people, he adds, "provide a critical stimulus for economic growth."
10/31/2007 -- SEXUAL HARRASSMENT HAS A BIG IMPACT ON SMALL BUSINESS
OCRegister - The $11.6 million verdict in the Knicks case came almost 16 years after Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual misconduct. This case is a clear reminder that workplace harassment is still a serious problem. More than 12,000 complaints were filed in 2006, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. And last year, victims of sexual harassment received almost $50 million in jury awards.
10/31/2007 -- STAPH INFECTIONS AND THE WORKPLACE
Staphylococcus aureus, often referred to simply as "staph," is a type of bacteria commonly carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. Sometimes, staph can cause an infection. Staph bacteria are one of the most common causes of skin infections in the United States. Most of these skin infections are minor (such as pustules and boils) and can be treated without antibiotics. However, staph bacteria also can cause serious infections (such as surgical wound infections, bloodstream infections, and pneumonia).
10/22/2007 -- EEOC ALERTS PUBLIC TO E-MAIL 'PHISHING' SCAM
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) late today notified the business community and general public to a "phishing" e-mail circulating to companies that purports to be from the federal agency regarding a harassment complaint. The bogus e-mail contains a Trojan Horse Virus that is likely to harm a recipient's computer if the user clicks on the referenced web link and/or downloads the attached file. The phony e-mail to employers -- being circulated under the subject "Harassment Complaint Update For"-- contains links where the respondent can allegedly access details of a fake discrimination claim. The EEOC has reported the issue to appropriate authorities.
Computerworld - On Wednesday, two days after a Virginia high school senior infected with a drug-resistant strain of bacteria died, an e-mail circulated to all the principals and custodial staff of the 11,000-student Bedford County Public School District from Victor Gosnell, the district's director of technology. The e-mail included a reminder: It's OK to lightly spray or wipe a keyboard and mouse.
10/22/2007 -- WHY EMPLOYERS SHOULD CARE ABOUT THEIR WORKPLACE
WSJ CarrerJournal.com - When I first started writing a column on workplace issues for this newspaper 16 years ago, the company executives who spent much time thinking about workplace quality could have met in a phone booth. Who cares? That was the private response of many managers -- at companies big and small -- to the idea of engaging workers' hearts and minds. Most saw little relationship between employee attitudes and the bottom line. Now, that viewpoint is almost as out-of-date as the phone booth.
10/22/2007 -- U.S. COMPANIES FIGHTING FEWER LEGAL BATTLES: SURVEY
Washington Post.com - U.S. companies are getting hit with fewer new lawsuits and initiating less litigation, according to a survey released on Monday. The poll of in-house law departments suggests corporate litigation may have slowed, although big companies still find themselves juggling plenty of court cases, particularly patent and product liability disputes.
10/22/2007 -- A GUIDE TO THE NEW PROPOSED RULES FOR CAFETERIA PLANS
Health Insurance Underwriter - This article on the new proposed regulations of cafeteria plans is critical to your career. “Yeah right, Ric, sure it is -- just like the state regs on insurance, ERISA, HIPAA, HRAs, COBRA and HSAs that I am required to know!” Okay, so I was overstating the urgency of reading this article a tad. Since your time is valuable, I will dive right in. I will review the basics of cafeteria plans for new agents, and this shall serve to refresh your compliance-cluttered mind.
10/22/2007 -- HOW TO READ A MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEET
American Lung Association - When a worker is given information by an employer on a hazardous substance, it will often be in the form of a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). The MSDS is prepared by the product's manufacturer and provides basic information on the chemical's physical properties and related health effects. The MSDS provides guidance on using, storing and handling substances safely on the job and in emergencies such as fires and spills. Unfortunately, information presented on an MSDS may be incomplete. This is particularly true for information on health effects that workers may experience from low-level chemical exposure over a long period of time.
10/22/2007 -- CALCULATING THE COST OF ABSENCE
Risk and Insurance - It makes intuitive sense that when an employee is not at work because of an illness, injury or another issue, there is an impact on the company's productivity and, therefore, the bottom line. But what exactly is that impact? And, more to the point, how should companies mitigate that impact by keeping employees healthy and on the job?
10/15/2007 -- WORKERS SAY THEIR EMPLOYER IS PREPARED FOR EMERGENCY
Reliable Plant - More Americans (61 percent) believe their employer is prepared to deal with emergency situations, compared with their family, at 57 percent, and their community, at 50 percent, according to a national survey of American workers’ attitudes on safety issues released October 15 by the National Safety Council at its annual safety and health Congress in Chicago.
10/15/2007 -- RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINTS INCREASE
USA Today - Mikhael Rozenberg, an Orthodox Jew, had been working at Vonage Holdings Corp. for a couple of weeks in the fall of 2005 when the High Holidays forced him to miss a portion of a training session. Vonage didn't allow him to make up for the missed time and told him the only available position required him to work on Saturdays, according to a lawsuit filed on his behalf by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. That would mean working on the day that God put aside for rest, according to Rosenberg's religious beliefs.
Depression can seriously impact a person’s ability to perform routine activities at work. It negatively affects U.S. industry through lost productivity, employee absenteeism, and low morale. U.S. companies lose an estimated $30 to $44 billion dollars per year because of employee depression. Research shows that the rate of depression varies by occupation and industry.
10/15/2007 -- IT REALLY CAN BE A CRIME TO FILE AN INCORRECT FORM 5500
PPAblog - A Friend of mine had a good question today from an accountant, who wanted to know if there is any penalty for filing Form 5500 with just a little bit of incorrect information. Congress answered this question with 28 U.S.C. 1027, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals provides a pretty unequivocal explanation of how this Code section applies to Form 5500.
Wall Street Journal - When U.S. Cellular's chief operating officer, Jay Ellison, imposed a "no email Friday" rule at his company, he thought it would ease workers' overload. Instead, he got a rebellion. Among many irate responses, Kathy Volpi, a marketing director, confronted Mr. Ellison and "just ripped me," he says. "She really gave me a piece of her mind." Ms. Volpi says that at the time the ban seemed like a needless obstacle. "I thought, 'He just doesn't understand how much work we have to get done, and how much easier' " it is when using email.
10/15/2007 -- ARTHRITIS TAKES TOLL IN WORKPLACE
Chicago Sun Times - A federal study is documenting the terrible toll arthritis is taking in the workplace. About one in three adults who have arthritis say it affects the amount or type of work they can do -- or whether they can even work at all. The percentages of employees who say their work is limited by arthritis range from 25 percent in Nevada to 51 percent in Kentucky.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined four construction companies $119,550 following an investigation into fatality at a Dallas, Texas, worksite. OSHA announced it issued citations to Satterfield & Pontikes Construction Inc. in Houston; Okie Foundation Drilling Co. Inc. and Rent-A-Crane of Oklahoma Inc. in Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Soto Rebar Construction in Dallas.
10/03/2007 -- CONSUMER ELECTRONICS: A THREAT TO THE WORKPLACE?
PC World - IT security professionals need to take steps to properly manage how employee-owned consumer devices are used in the workplace, analysts warned at Gartner's IT security summit in London this week. With powerful consumer devices becoming increasingly ubiquitous in the enterprise, and homeworking on the increase, Gartner said it was important that technology privileges reflected genuine need to avoid security problems.
10/03/2007 -- EMPLOYERS SEE VALUE IN HELPING THOSE LAID OFF
Wall Street Journal - A growing number of employers give laid-off staffers something extra to ease the pain of their job loss: continued access to employee-assistance programs.
Ergoweb - A new report suggests that staying at work or returning to work early offer the fastest road to recovery from back pain and other conditions in the family of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
10/03/2007 -- PUCH THE BOSS, GET WORKERS' COMP?
AZcentral.com - Punch the boss or that annoying co-worker, then collect workers' comp if you get hurt?
10/03/2007 -- SQUABBLING OVER THE ADA
Risk and Insurance - Fifteen years after the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the courts and employers are still at odds over how the law should be applied in the workplace. Thus far, the only certainty is that there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to the ADA.
09/20/2007 -- WHY CLINTON EMBRACED EMPLOYER-BASED INSURANCE
Wall Street Journal - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said in drafting a new health-care plan she considered doing away with the employer-based system but concluded that people like it. "We looked at every permutation of how you get to universal health care," the New York senator said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. "There's great attachment to the employer-based system, even though it is eroding." Since World War II, employers have benefited from tax breaks for providing health insurance to workers, with neither employer nor employee counting the value of the insurance as income.
09/20/2007 -- TEXAS WORKERS' COMP WEEKLY BENEFIT RATE SET AT $712
Insurance Journal - The Texas Department of Insurance Division of Workers' Compensation announced that the workers' compensation state average weekly wage for Fiscal Year 2008 is set at $712 and is effective for dates of injury from Oct.1, 2007 through Sept.30, 2008.
09/20/2007 -- AMERICA'S DEADLIEST JOBS
Thomas.net - Overall, workplace fatalities edged down last year to 5,703 from 5,734 in 2005, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For many of us, the most dangerous part of the workday is the commute, but for many others, each workday is risky business.
09/20/2007 -- WHOLE FOODS EMPLOYEES GO BARGAIN HUNTING FOR HEALTH CARE
Don't you hate that high deductible on your insurance policy? You have to pay thousands of dollars before insurance covers your care. That's terrible, some say, but is it really? A version of it may be the key to lowering costs and putting you in charge of your health care. Five years ago, the grocery chain Whole Foods Market switched to a different kind of health insurance, a policy that puts patients more in control.
09/20/2007 -- TEEN WORKER SAFETY IN RESTAURANTS - eTOOL
Restaurants and other eating and drinking businesses employ 11.6 million people in the United States. Nearly 30% of these employees are under 20 years of age. Many teens' first work experience is in the restaurant industry. OSHA is providing this eTool to help youth working in the restaurant industry to be safe and healthy on the job. This eTool* describes common hazards and potential safety solutions for teen workers and employers in the restaurant industry.
09/10/2007 -- WHY DOCTORS BOYCOTT COMP
Risk and Insurance - Surgeons in Massachusetts almost uniformly refuse to accept the state fee schedule. They negotiate fees double or higher than the official levels. The common thread to these fee disputes seems to be an economic supply-and-demand problem. But is it really just that?
09/10/2007 -- STATE WORKERS DOMINATE TEXAS LABOR FORCE
Austin American Statesman - How big is the state work force? If state workers were a corporation, it would be the largest in the Texas by far.
09/10/2007 -- EMPLOYERS SEE MORASS IN ID RULE
Financial Week - New rules from the Department of Homeland Security giving employers more responsibility for identifying undocumented workers were put on hold at the end of August by a federal judge. But if the rules survive the court challenge, company executives fear a trifecta of problems: increased operational burden, worker shortages in some industries and exposure to discrimination lawsuits.
09/10/2007 -- WORKFORCE USE OF COCAINE PLUNGES
Courier Post - New data from workplace drug tests conducted by Quest Diagnostics indicate an unprecedented reduction in cocaine use among the U.S. work force, according to the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy. The Quest report found a 16 percent decline in the number of drug test positives for cocaine among the combined U.S. work force during the first six months of 2007, compared to 2006.
09/10/2007 -- TEXAS COMPANIES SETTLE SAFETY AND HEALTH VIOLATIONS
Phillips Petroleum Company has agreed to pay over $2 million in penalties for safety and health violations at its complex in Pasadena, Texas, as part of a settlement agreement announced today by U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. Additionally, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, which now owns and operates the facility, will hire dedicated safety and health consultants to ensure compliance with OSHA’s process safety management standards.
09/10/2007 -- U.S. IS MOST PRODUCTIVE IN PART BECAUSE WE WORK MORE
USA Today - American workers stay longer in the office, at the factory or on the farm than their counterparts in Europe and most other rich nations, and they produce more per person over the year. They also get more done per hour than everyone but the Norwegians, according to a U.N. report released Monday, which said the United States "leads the world in labor productivity." The average U.S. worker produces $63,885 of wealth per year, more than their counterparts in all other countries, the International Labor Organization said in its report. Ireland comes in second at $55,986, followed by Luxembourg at $55,641, Belgium at $55,235 and France at $54,609.
Houston Chronicle - The state Legislature won't reconvene until 2009, but part of the insurance lobby already is jockeying for a change it says will help reduce the number of Texas workers who don't have health insurance. According to the Texas Association of Health Underwriters, a two-sentence tweak to state law would let small companies — defined as firms with fewer than 50 — pay the full premium for their workers' health insurance rather than share the cost with employees.
Law.com - Insurance disputes have occupied much of the Texas Supreme Court's time of late, and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals likely has just added to that caseload. On Aug. 8, the 5th Circuit sent the high court two certified questions that need to be decided in OneBeacon Insurance Co. v. Don's Building Supply Inc., a construction-defect case with potentially far-reaching implications: "What is the proper rule under Texas law for determining the time at which property damage occurred for the purposes of an occurrence-based general liability policy?"
09/03/2007 -- MOST COMPANIES OFFER HEALTH CARE BENEFITS TO EMPLOYEES
Reliable Plant - Sixty percent of establishments in private industry offered medical care benefits to their employees in March 2007, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.
Industry Week - In June 2007, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that Pemco Aeroplex, a Birmingham, Ala.-based company, had agreed to pay $390,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit that accused the company of "engaging in a pattern or practice of race discrimination" against its African American workers. Although it has been more than 40 years since the Civil Rights Act was passed, discrimination still occurs in the workplace.
08/28/2007 -- EMPLOYMENT LITIGATION GETS PERSONAL FOR COMPANY MANAGERS
Law.com - Employment law is getting personal. An increasing number of executives, managers and other company leaders are being sued personally for their work-related decisions. Labor and employment attorneys note that the increase in personal lawsuits has put upper management on edge, many fearing that every time they make a decision involving salary, leaves of absence or benefit issues, they could be sued. Recent court decisions have added to this fear.
08/28/2007 -- TEXAS MANUFACTURING REBOUNDS IN AUGUST
Austin Business Journal - Manufacturing activity in Texas made a comeback in August after being slowed by unusually wet weather in July, according to a survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. In August, the production index rose 33.3 percent to 21.6 from -9.7 in July, as one-third of factories reported an increase in production. Capacity also was up, rising from 11.5 in July to 19.1 in August, with more than 40 percent of manufacturing firms saying their shipment volumes increased in August.
08/28/2007 -- NEW STATISTICS ON SMALL BUSINESSES
The Office of Advocacy released an update to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). It estimates that there are 26.8 million small businesses in the United States, and addresses small businesses' importance to the U.S. economy. It provides data on small business firm survival, owner demographics, health care questions, regulations, and procurement.
08/28/2007 -- OSHA/EPA OCCUPATIONAL CHEMICAL DATABASE
OSHA and EPA jointly developed and maintain this database as a convenient reference for the occupational safety and health community. This database compiles information from several government agencies and organizations. Available database reports include: "Physical Properties," "Exposure Guidelines," "NIOSH Pocket Guide," and "Emergency Response Information," including the DOT Emergency Response Guide. In addition, an all-in-one report, "Full Report," is available.
Workers' Compensation: Benefits, Coverage, and Costs, is the tenth in a series begun by the National Academy of Social Insurance to provide the only comprehensive national data on this largely state-run program. The study provides estimates of workers' compensation payments—cash and medical—for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and federal program providing workers' compensation.
08/21/2007 -- SOME PREDICT ECONOMIC TURMOIL FROM NEW WORKPLACE RULES
Houston Chronicle - From the fields of the Rio Grande Valley to the streets of Houston and beyond, employers, workers and immigrant-rights activists alike predicted Friday that the Bush administration's new crackdown on illegal immigration could throw huge numbers of people off the job and send a shiver through several sectors of the economy.
PRNewswire - Business executives from the C-suite and HR, to QC and R&D are, by nature, focused on the corporate bottom line. A new trend in our dawning age of social sustainability is that many experts believe more attention should be paid to the dotted line -- the one signed when a person commits to employment at a company. New Harvard research validates this approach, affirming that trust and purpose play a significant role in building successful, productive workplaces.
Occupational Health and Safety - A user-friendly, 30-minute, video-based cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training session is just as effective as the traditional three- to four-hour course in teaching basic life-saving techniques to laypersons, according to UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today proposed $2.78 million in penalties against Ohio-based Cintas Corp. following an inspection into the March 2007 employee death at the Cintas laundry facility in Tulsa, Okla. The employee was killed when he fell into an operating industrial dryer while clearing a jam of wet laundry on a conveyor that carries the laundry from the washer into the dryer.
08/21/2007 -- TEXAS SEES SLOWER MANUFACTURING ACTIVITY IN JULY
Houston Business Journal - Manufacturing activity in Texas slowed down in July, according to a survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. General business activity dropped to a -3.6 from 10.8 in June, according to the Dallas Fed's Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey.
08/16/2007 -- TEXAS TOPS U.S. IN WORKER DEATHS
MySa.com - Texas was the deadliest state for workers last year, and the toll for 2007 already appears heavy, according to two new reports. The San Antonio region, which includes the Austin area, is on pace to see the highest number of workplace fatalities in five years. That news worries some San Antonio construction executives.
CCH.com - Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), has introduced legislation that would eliminate the caps on the amount of damages plaintiffs can recover in employment discrimination cases under the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Kennedy introduced the bill -- the Equal Remedies Act of 2007 (S. 1928)—on August 1, 2007.
08/16/2007 -- U.S. SET FOR CRACKDOWN ON ILLEGAL HIRING
New York Times - In a new effort to crack down on illegal immigrants, federal authorities are expected to announce tough rules this week that would require employers to fire workers who use false Social Security numbers. Officials said the rules would be backed up by stepped-up raids on workplaces across the country that employ illegal immigrants.
Occupational Hazards - A new study suggests that employers may be significantly underestimating the overall costs of poor employee health, while failing to fully assess the cost to business of the diseases and health conditions – such as depression or insomnia – experienced by employees. The study, which appears in the July issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, quantifies the link between employee health and productivity more dramatically than any other study to date and shows that the relationship between the two is much more significant than previously thought.
08/16/2007 -- THE HIDDEN WORKPLACE
Fortune Magazine - Anyone who has ever worked knows that the org chart, no matter how meticulously rendered, doesn't come close to describing the facts of office life. All those lines and boxes don't tell you, for example, that smokers tend to have the best information, since they bond with people from every level and department when they head outside for a puff. The org chart doesn't tell you that people go to Janice, a long-time middle manager, rather than their bosses to get projects through. It doesn't tell you that the Canadian and Japanese sales forces don't interact because the two points of contact can't stand each other.
Dallas Morning News - Going against the trend of making workers pay more for their health care, the Texas Association of Health Underwriters is expected today to call for a change in state insurance law that provide for plans requiring employers to pay 100 percent of employee insurance premiums.
Science Daily — Back pain is the number one cause of worker-compensation complaints, second only to the common cold in causing lost workdays. Consequently, employers and regulators have pushed training programs to teach specific lifting methods, and some recommend or require the use of assistive devices such as hoists for hospital workers. However, a new review of the research on lifting advice and handling devices has found that they do not prevent work-related back pain.
08/07/2007 -- ADMINISTRATION READYING CRACKDOWN ON EMPLOYERS
Houston Chronicle - Employers across the country are preparing to fire workers with questionable Social Security numbers to avoid getting snagged in a Bush administration crackdown on illegal immigrants. The Department of Homeland Security is expected to make public soon new rules for employers notified when their worker's name or Social Security number was flagged by the Social Security Administration.
American Chemical Society - Certain laser printers used in offices and homes release tiny particles of toner-like material into the air that people can inhale deep into lungs where they may pose a health hazard, scientists are reporting. Their study is scheduled for the August 1 online issue of the American Chemical Society’s Environmental Science & Technology.
Fire Rescue 1 - Two gas lines carrying dangerous hydrocarbons have ruptured at a chemical plant on a windy morning. When the first firefighters arrive, an employee says he doesn't know the fate of the maintenance crew that was near the flaming pump. Fortunately, this is not another industrial accident in downtown Dallas. It's an elaborately staged training exercise for firefighters from oil and gas plants around the world, hosted by Texas A&M University at a 120-acre training center that operates year-round on campus.
07/31/2007 -- DISABLED WORKER CASES AT RECORD
USA Today - The Social Security Administration faces a record — and rapidly growing — backlog of appeals by people who claim they are too disabled to work. Through June, it had just over 745,000 cases pending, and the wait for a hearing averaged 17 months, also a record.
Establishment size matters in determining employee compensation and job tenure, concludes a study released today by the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The study found that all other things being equal, employees of larger establishments have longer job tenures than those working in smaller establishments. Moreover, the study found that service and manufacturing occupations pay more in larger establishments as well.
Dallas Morning News - The spectacular fire and explosions that launched flaming gas cylinders high over Dallas on Wednesday have touched off a federal investigation and raised concerns about the safety of the city's industrial plants.
07/31/2007 -- WORKPLACE FACTORS PREDICT LONG-TERM DISABILITY RISK
Reuters - Along with treatment severity, other factors help predict whether a person who files a disability claim for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) will be out of work long-term, a new study shows.
Law.com - An employer's negative statements about an employee's accent may be deemed to be direct evidence of discrimination, requiring the employer to demonstrate that it would have taken the adverse action even absent the discriminatory motive.
07/22/2007 -- GOING EXTRA MILE EARNS LOYALTY FROM WORKERS
Dallas Morning News - When asked what's more important, the chicken or the egg, the right answer is both. And so it is with an enterprise's customers and workforce – you can't have one without the other. Yet many companies invest more in attracting and maintaining good customers and little in their No. 1 asset – the workforce. Not so at Dallas trucking company Greatwide Logistics Services, where chief commercial officer Dick Metzler says the greatest challenge is to "find, win and keep the hearts and minds of the drivers."
07/22/2007 -- A NEW TEST FOR WORKPLACE "HORSEPLAY"
Law.com - The Delaware Supreme Court recently allowed an employee injured by horseplay on the job to bring a personal injury suit against co-workers. For the first time, the court has accepted the so-called "Larson test," named for the author of a widely used treatise, Larson's Workers' Compensation Law. The four-part test requires consideration of the following: the scope and seriousness of the conduct's deviation from employment activities, whether it was co-mingled or separate from work duties, whether horseplay is accepted in the workplace in question, and whether the nature of the job typically includes horseplay.
CHCF.org - While many proposals to expand employer-based health insurance coverage are being discussed at the state level, businesses are concerned that the rising cost of providing such coverage is challenging their ability to compete in a global economy. This snapshot examines trends in employer-sponsored health insurance costs in the United States. It looks at the percentage of businesses offering coverage, the growth of insurance premium costs relative to salaries and wages, and the proportion of payroll that is taken up by premium contributions.
07/22/2007 -- EEOC AGE RULE BECOME EFFECTIVE
HRonline.com - Until two years ago, employers looking to create customized benefits packages in the battle for older workers had to tread carefully or face potential age-discrimination litigation, based on Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulations. But in 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court, in General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. vs. Cline, ruled that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act does not prohibit employers from favoring an older employee over a younger one.
Bloomberg- Manual workers in the U.S. miss more days because of sickness or injury than people who work in offices, according to a study that calls attention to higher- risk industries such as mining. Male miners take about 26 days off each year, the most in any private industry, and more than triple the average of eight days for all workers in the private sector, according to findings published today in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Employees at wholesale suppliers missed the fewest days, five a year on average.
07/17/2007 -- SMALL BUSINESSES UP IN ARMS OVER NEW STATE TAX
MySA.com - A Texas-sized tax revolt is percolating as small-business owners are hit with sticker shock from the new state business tax. Some small-business owners who have begun calculating their 2007 state tax, due by May 2008, are seeing tenfold increases, sometimes more.
07/17/2007 -- HR MANAGER: THE 36th HIGHEST PAYING JOB
HR.blr.com - With a median of $84,200 in annual wages, human resource managers are the 36th highest paying occupation in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics Survey.
07/17/2007 -- TEXAS UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DIPS TO 4.1 PERCENT
Herald Democrat - The Texas unemployment rate fell to 4.1 percent in May, the lowest point since at least 1976, state officials said Friday. Economists said the numbers showed that the economy is holding up despite pressure on consumers from high gasoline prices. Employers reported that finding qualified workers is a challenge. The Texas Workforce Commission said the unemployment rate fell a notch in May from April’s jobless rate of 4.2 percent. A year ago, the Texas jobless rate was 5 Percent.
07/10/2007 -- US JURIES GET VERDICT WRONG IN ONE OF SIX CASES: STUDY
BREITBART.COM - So much for US justice: juries get the verdict wrong in one out of six criminal cases and judges don't do much better, a new study has found. And when they make those mistakes, both judges and juries are far more likely to send an innocent person to jail than to let a guilty person go free, according to an upcoming study out of Northwestern University. "Those are really shocking numbers," said Jack Heinz, a law professor at Northwestern who reviewed the research of his colleague Bruce Spencer, a professor in the statistics department.
07/10/2007 -- HOSPITAL, DOCTOR VISITS UP 20 PERCENT IN 5 YEARS
MSMBC - Hospital and doctor visits in the United States have surged by 20 percent in the past five years, and the most commonly prescribed medications are antidepressants, according to statistics published on Friday.The survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found most people who visitedemergency rooms had private health insurance, although the uninsured were twice as likely to use emergency services as people with insurance.
MyFox.com - An oil industry trade group said Wednesday it has developed standards to better protect workers from explosions like the 2005 Texas refinery explosion that killed 15 people and injured 170. The American Petroleum Institute's new standards, to be published Thursday, are designed to meet the demands of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board that made an "urgent" recommendation in October 2005, requiring refineries to limit how close workers' portable trailers can be placed near potentially hazardous operations.
07/10/2007 -- BETTER HIDE THE TATTOO IF YOU WANT THE JOB
Latimes.com - Last year Justin Miloro had to wear long sleeves to conceal the Buddha curling around his left forearm and the yellow-orange sun rays on his right. Pants covered the depiction of Earth on one leg and wings on the other. The sun spreading across his back was under wraps. The plugs in his earlobes were obscured by bandages.
07/10/2007 -- WHAT DO WORKERS REALLY WANT?
OCregister.com - In a nation where more and more emphasis is placed on productivity at work, only three in 10 employees are highly committed, industrious and passionate about what they do. Those figures astounded Terry Bacon, who read the Gallup semi-annual employee engagement index in 2005 and realized that means seven out of 10 workers are most likely sleepwalking through their work. Even worse, they could be malcontents and cynics who poison other workers around them.
07/10/2007 -- INSURANCE COMPANIES, DOCTORS FLOCK TO TEXAS
Mysanantonio. com - When Texas voters in 2003 approved a state proposition capping lawsuit awards for medical malpractice cases, only four insurance companies even offered malpractice policies to Texas doctors. Now, 30 insurance companies crowd the market, and premiums have fallen like so many San Antonio Spurs playoff opponents. The lower cost of being a doctor in Texas has helped trigger a stampede of applications for physician licenses, with the waiting line now up to 12 months.
07/01/2007 -- EMPLOYER COSTS FOR EMPLOYEE COMPENSATION SUMMARY
Employer costs for employee compensation averaged $27.82 per hour worked in March 2007, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Wages and salaries, which averaged $19.47, accounted for 70.0 percent of these costs, while benefits, which averaged $8.35, accounted for the remaining 30.0 percent. Employer Costs for Employee Compensation, a product of the National Compensation Survey, measures employer costs for wages, salaries, and employee benefits for non-farm private and state and local government workers.
07/01/2007 -- MECHANICS MORE LIKELY TO BE KILLED, INJURED
Occupational Hazards - According to an analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), automotive service technicians and mechanics are more likely than the average worker to be killed or injured on the job.In an article in the agency's Compensation and Working Conditions Online, BLS economist Sean Smith points out that mechanics experience higher rates of fatalities and injuries and illnesses than other workers. According to Smith's research, mechanics in 2005 had a fatality rate of 5.3 per 100,000 workers – compared to a rate of 4.0 per 100,000 workers for all occupations combined.
Metropolitan Corporate Counsel - The diversification of the American workforce requires many employers to determine whether they have an obligation to ensure that their communications to employees are understood. Understood, in this context, may mean that the communication should be in a language other than English or even Spanish.
07/01/2007 -- OSHA DEVELOPS DATABASE OF WORKPLACE CHEMICAL INFORMATION
OSHA recently launched a database of information on more than 800 chemicals commonly found in the workplace. The database allows users to quickly and easily retrieve information on chemicals such as their physical properties and exposure limits. The database compiles information from several government agencies and organizations, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Department of Transportation.
07/01/2007 -- COMPANIES TRY TO GET WORKERS IN SHAPE
Forbes.com - A burgeoning industry of wellness advisers, counselors and consultants is booming as corporate America tries to increase productivity and control insurance costs by helping its employees get healthy and shed pounds. The change is fueled by well-meaning, cost-conscious executives who are looking for ways to trim bottom lines along with waist lines.
06/19/2007 -- HEALTH CARE COST ISNT'T PROOF OF HIGH QUALITY
New York Times - Stark evidence that high medical payments do not necessarily buy high-quality patient care is presented in a hospital study set for release today. In a Pennsylvania government survey of the state’s 60 hospitals that perform heart bypass surgery, the best-paid hospital received nearly $100,000, on average, for the operation while the least-paid got less than $20,000. At both, patients had comparable lengths of stay and death rates.
06/19/2007 -- MOST EMPLOYEES DON'T REACT TO WARNINGS OF VIOLENCE
Courier-Journal.com - Ann Rule, the best-selling true-crime writer, worked side-by-side with Ted Bundy, one of the nation's most notorious serial killers, at a Seattle suicide hot line in the early 1970s. Yet Bundy's on-the-job behavior never raised the hairs on the back of her neck.
The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a consent order and judgment permanently barring fiduciaries of the Manufacturing and Industrial Workers Union Benefit Fund (MIWU) of Bryan, Texas, from serving in a fiduciary capacity to any employee benefit plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and appointing an independent fiduciary to oversee the health fund.
National Underwriter - As the workforce continues to age and gain weight, new employment-related exposures are arising—one of the many emerging coverage and loss control issues sure to challenge relatively unprepared risk managers in the near future, according to studies released in New Orleans at the annual conference for the Risk and Insurance Management Society.
Insurance Journal - The Texas Department of Insurance announced that a workers' compensation rule to require treatment planning for injured employees (28 Texas Administrative Code §137.300) will be repealed.
06/11/2007 -- WITNESSES CALL FOR RELAXING ERISA
National Underwriter - The chairman of a House subcommittee says Congress should consider permitting states to apply some laws and regulations to self-funded employer health plans. The federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act now tries to create a uniform national regulatory environment for multistate employer benefit plans by preempting state regulation of benefit plans.
06/11/2007 -- LAWSUITS MAY FOLLOW EEOC GUIDANCE ON CAREGIVERS
HRonline.com - New guidelines issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission aim to help employers, employees and commission staff determine whether discrimination against workers with caregiving responsibilities constitutes unlawful disparate treatment under federal law.
06/11/2007 -- 9 KEYS FOR DIRECTING ATTENTION TO SAFETY
Occupational Hazards - The ability to direct attention is a key to successful performance in many endeavors – from sports to leadership to communications to injury prevention. But to avoid defaulting into unworkable solutions, first recognize what has not significantly helped to direct attention control toward safety. Ignore it and hope it will improve. This is a common organizational approach and can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If leaders do not pay attention, other employees will not pay attention either.
06/11/2007 -- JURY FINDS SAN ANTONIO FIRM LIABLE IN SEX BIAS LAWSUIT
MySanAntonio.com - A San Antonio jury has awarded $250,000 to a Kendall County woman in a sex discrimination suit against San Antonio Aerospace L.P. Hue "Lisa" Levasseur, 51, sued her former employer in 2005 after she was fired in March 2004. She complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which not only gave her the green light to sue the company but also found it had discriminated against her.
06/11/2007 -- SURVEY: HOUSTON IS FIRST IN MANUFACTURING JOBS
Houston Business Journal - Houston leads the nation in terms of manufacturing jobs, according to a recent survey Houston has the most manufacturing jobs of any United States city. It also has 18.5 percent of Texas' manufacturing employment, or 225,732 jobs, up 2.7 percent from April 2006, and accounts for 4,162 manufacturers -- 1.3 percent fewer than last year.
05/22/2007 -- TEXAS JOBS REMAIN STRONG
Dallas Morning News - Texas employers added 23,500 nonfarm jobs in April, as the state's unemployment rate edged down to 4.2 percent from 4.3 percent in March, the Texas Workforce Commission said Friday. "Our sustained job gains and falling unemployment rate exemplify the underlying strength of the Texas economy," said Diane Rath, chairwoman of the Texas Workforce Commission. The state's continued improvement contrasted with signs of a national slowdown.
Johns Hopkins University - Having a body mass index in the overweight or obese range increases the risk of traumatic workplace injury, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Injury Research and Policy. Because of this, the researchers say, employer-sponsored weight loss and maintenance programs should be considered as part of a well-rounded workplace safety plan. The study was an Advance Access paper published May 7 by the American Journal of Epidemiology.
05/22/2007 -- NEW TEXAS LAW ALLOWS WORKPLACE DEADLY FORCE
HR.BLR.com -Senate Bill 378, which will take effect September 1, 2007, expands citizens' legal right to protect themselves, not only at home and in their cars, but also in the workplace.
05/22/2007 -- A PANDEMIC COULD = $400B COMP CLAIM, MODELER SAYS
National Underwriter - If a mutated version of bird flu sparks a 1918-level pandemic, there could be 40 million workers affected in the United States, 900,000 of whom could die, a modeling expert is warning.
05/22/2007 -- 9 KEYS FOR DIRECTING ATTENTION TO SAFETY
Occupational Hazards - The ability to direct attention is a key to successful performance in many endeavors – from sports to leadership to communications to injury prevention. But to avoid defaulting into unworkable solutions, first recognize what has not significantly helped to direct attention control toward safety. Ignore it and hope it will improve. This is a common organizational approach and can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If leaders do not pay attention, other employees will not pay attention either.
05/22/2007 -- AFTER AIDING ON IMMIGRATION, EMPLOYERS BALK
New York Times - Employers, who helped shape a major immigration bill over the last three months, said on Sunday that they were unhappy with the result because it would not cure the severe labor shortages they foresee in the coming decade. In addition, employers expressed alarm as they learned that the Senate bill would require them to check a government database to verify that all current and former employees — aliens and citizens alike — were eligible to work in the United States.
05/15/2007 -- LAWSUITS ALLEGING DISCRIMINATION DUE TO AGE POPPING UP
Houston Chronicle - Thomas Cross worked for Lucent Technologies and its predecessors for 34 years, with a history of good evaluations. In fact, Cross, who was an installation estimator in Chesterfield, Mo., received an "outstanding" evaluation shortly before he was fired at age 55.
05/15/2007 -- Rx DRUG USE, EXTRA TREATMENTS DRIVE COMP COSTS
National Underwriter - The medical cost of individual workers’ compensation claims is being driven upward by increased use of prescription drugs and the proliferation of expensive treatments by healthcare providers, experts told an industry conference here yesterday.
Houston Chronicle - Donald Coit Smith, his grief fresh and raw, believes that Texas insurance companies profited after his 22-year-old son was electrocuted in an industrial accident in Bryan — all because of state laws that regulate the payment of death benefits through workers' compensation. For his loss, Smith got $6,000 to bury his son. But Smith was told that the workers' comp death benefit — $100,500 — would not be paid to grieving family members because his oldest child, Donald W. Smith, a student at Sam Houston State University, had no wife or children.
Dallas Morning News - Health insurance plans in Texas would be required to treat mental illnesses the same as physical illnesses under legislation approved Thursday by the Senate. The Senate bill, approved on a 27-3 vote and sent to the House, mandates that group health care plans establish the same benefits – including co-payments, deductibles and coverage limits – for mental illnesses that they have for other types of illness. No businesses would be required to add mental health coverage if they don't already have it in their health care plans, and no businesses with fewer than 51 employees would be affected.
05/15/2007 -- ENGLISH ONLY WORKPLACES SPARK LAWSUITS
USA Today - Some companies are adopting policies that require employees to speak only English on the job, spurring a backlash of lawsuits alleging that such rules can discriminate against immigrants. The English-only policies are coming as the number of immigrants in the USA soars: Nearly 11 million residents are not fluent in English, according to U.S. Census data, up from 6.6 million in 1990. Nearly 34 million residents are foreign-born, according to 2003 U.S. Census data. That's up from 24.6 million in 1996.
Use of Blunt-Tip Suture Needles to Decrease Percutaneous Injuries to Surgical Personnel is the focus of a new Safety and Health Information Bulletin (SHIB) published by OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The SHIB describes the hazards of sharp-tip suture needles and presents evidence of the effectiveness of blunt-tip needles in decreasing injuries. It also emphasizes OSHA's requirement to use appropriate, available and effective safer medical devices.
05/04/2007 -- WEIGHT TRAINING HELPS WORKERS WITH ROTATOR CUFF INJURIES
HealthDay News - Resistance training with free weights can help workers with severe rotator cuff injuries return to their jobs, a new study says. Rotator cuff injuries -- which involve the muscles and tendons that stabilize the shoulder -- can occur when the arm is pulled out of place in falls or other types of accidents.The study, conducted by researchers at the Athletic and Therapeutic Institute in Chicago, included 42 people who weren't able to return to work after undergoing traditional physical therapy following surgery to repair their torn muscles or ligaments.
05/04/2007 -- HOUSE TWEAKS BUSINESS TAX, EXPANDS EXEMPTION
Austin American Statesman - The House fine-tuned the state's fledgling business tax Tuesday by letting 60,000 small businesses off the hook while trying to ensure the rest of the tax lives up to its billing. House leaders wrote the tax changes approved Tuesday to neither increase nor decrease the total amount of money that the tax will raise, although the changes could raise or lower the burden on individual businesses. The Legislature created the new levy, often called the business margins tax, in 2006 to help offset the cost of a one-third reduction in school property taxes and to replace the often-avoided corporate franchise tax. The tax levy is up to 1 percent of a business's gross receipts, minus payroll costs or costs of goods sold.
05/01/2007 -- MANAGERS MUST LEARN HOW TO AVERT VIOLENCE AT WORK
Sun Sentinel.com - No one wants to anticipate workplace violence, but preparation for the possibility is a necessity, as last week's bloodshed at Virginia Tech reminds us. Employers must strive for a safe workplace. At the same time, employers have the obligation to protect workers' privacy and disability rights under the law -- and risk lawsuits if they don't.
05/01/2007 -- WORKPLACE DISABILITIES ARE ON THE RISE
Wall Street Journal - Disabilities among American workers are growing at an accelerating pace, prompting employers to accommodate more maladies in the workplace, according to new government and industry studies.
05/01/2007 -- EMPLOYER COSTS FOR EMPLOYEE COMPENSATION
U.S. Department of Labor - Employer costs for employee compensation averaged $27.54 per hour worked in December 2006, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Wages and salaries, which averaged $19.24 per hour, accounted for 69.9 percent of these costs, while benefits, which averaged $8.30 per hour, accounted for the remaining 30.1 percent. Employer Costs for Employee Compensation, a product of the National Compensation Survey, measures employer costs for wages, salaries, and employee benefits for nonfarm private and state and local government workers.
05/01/2007 -- LADDER RELATED INJURIES ARE INCREASING IN THE U.S.
Reliable Plant - Falls from ladders can result in serious injury and affect people of all ages. The general public is at risk for ladder injuries, yet receives little, if any, instruction on ladder use and safety.
05/01/2007 -- TRAGEDY TURNS ATTENTION TO WORKPLACE VIOLENCE
Occupational Hazards-Five faculty members were among the 32 people murdered April 16 on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. The Virginia Tech massacre has renewed the focus on whether employers can and should do more to reduce the likelihood of violence at the workplace, especially in a low-risk occupational setting.
04/23/2007 -- EMPLOYEES MORE CYNICAL ABOUT ECONOMY
Austin Buisness Journal - Fewer workers in Texas believe the economy is getting stronger, according to the latest Texas Employee Confidence Index released today. The monthly survey of Texas workers, conducted by Harris Interactiveon behalf of Spherion Corp. indicates that fewer workers believe that the economy is getting stronger and more workers say that fewer jobs are available.
04/23/2007 -- 5 INDICTED IN $100 MILLION WORKERS' COMP SCAM
Forbes - Five people have been indicted in a $100 million workers' compensation fraud scam that left hundreds of workers across the country without urgent medical care and death benefits, state and federal officials said Thursday.
04/23/2007 -- FATAL WORK INJURIES ON THE RISE
WebMD - The U.S. had 5,702 fatal work injuries in 2005, a rate of nearly 16 deaths per day, with highway accidents leading the way, according to preliminary CDC data. There were 527 more work deaths in 2005 than in 2004, notes the CDC. For the 14th year in a row, highway accidents were the leading cause of fatal work injuries in 2005. Overall, transportation caused 43 percent of fatal work injuries in 2005. More than half of those work-related transportation fatalities — 58 percent — occurred on highways.
04/23/2007 -- TEXAS EMPLOYMENT RISES IN MARCH
Houston Business Journal - Texas had the third-highest nonfarm payroll employment gain in the country in March, the federal government said. The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Texas gained more than 15,000 jobs in March, trailing behind only California, with more than 18,500 jobs gained, and Florida, with more than 16,400 jobs gained. For the year to the end of March, Texas ranked second in employment gains with more than 225,500 jobs, following California with 250,200 jobs.
04/23/2007 -- ICE STEPS UP ENFORCEMENT AT WORK SITES
Houston Chronicle - Federal agents have been swooping into workplaces with increasing frequency, snatching up illegal immigrants employed at construction sites, manufacturing plants and other businesses. The government insists the raids, which have terrified immigrant communities and made employers nervous in Houston and elsewhere, are part of a broader enforcement strategy just now hitting its stride.
04/14/2007 -- WORKERS' HANDGUN BILL PASSES SENATE PANEL
Houston Chronicle - A Senate panel on Tuesday approved a bill, fiercely opposed by businesses, that gives workers the right to lock concealed handguns in their cars, even if the parking lot is owned by their employer. While businesses testified the bill undermines their private property rights, supporters said those rights must be balanced against the safety rights of licensed concealed handgun owners. "It just says, whether it's a public or private employer, you cannot discipline, discharge or discriminate against an employee who has a handgun in the parking lot," said Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, author of the bill.
04/14/2007 -- NINE STEPS TO PREPARING FOR WORKPLACE VIOLENCE
Computerworld - Workplace violence is awful, and to deal with that awfulness, we tend to describe it as a random act by an unstable person. Yet, that's not true, according to Chris McGoey, an expert and consultant on workplace violence who has investigated many of the worst cases in recent history. "In virtually every case there were signs beforehand which were ignored," says McGoey. The sad fact is that workplace violence is far more common than anyone would think. A 2004 USA Today analysis indicated that an average of 25 people per week are injured and one person per week dies from workplace violence. McGoey acknowledges that "it's impossible to write a manual that will cover every possible scenario."
04/14/2007 -- OSHA AND SMALL BUSINESSES
Occupational Hazards - When it comes to reducing injuries, illnesses and fatalities in the workplace, more and more businesses are turning to OSHA for help. Just ask Kelly Olivier, environmental, health and safety coordinator at Anthony Forest Products, an integrated forest products company that has saved more than $1 million in the last 5 years (2001 to 2006) by working with OSHA's On-Site Consultation Program. During the same period, the company spent approximately $50,000 on safety improvements and employee training costs.
04/08/2007 -- SMALL BUSINESSES MAY SUFFER IF POWER RULES CHANGE
Houston Chronicle - A bill expected to be up for a vote in the Texas House today would take away state regulators' power to intervene in disputes between companies and power retailers, leaving mom-and-pop businesses to take their complaints to the courts. Most of the language in the bill — HB 1189 — is focused on encouraging big electric retailers like Reliant and TXU to compete for customers.
04/08/2007 -- HOUSTON COMPANY SUED IN WORKPLACE SLAYING
Houston Chronicle - Relatives of a man who was shot to death at his wife's workplace while waiting to take her to dinner on Valentine's Day have filed a lawsuit accusing her employer of negligence. Service Wire Inc. failed to investigate the background of the man accused of being the gunman, Edward Brown, before hiring him, the lawsuit alleges. Brown, 38, remains in custody without bail on a murder charge in the shooting of Michael Hoyt. Brown reportedly had been employed at Service Wire, 7207 North Loop East, for less than a month when the slaying took place.
San Antonio Business Journal - The Texas Workforce Commission on Friday said that the agency recovered $32 million in unpaid employer Unemployment Insurance taxes in 2006. This is a 12.4 percent increase in collections over 2005. The Texas Workforce Commission collects unemployment taxes from employers in Texas for the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund -- which supplies unemployment benefits to workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own and are actively seeking work.
04/08/2007 -- TEXAS JOBS INCREASE
Dallas Morning News - Texas employers added 14,300 jobs in February, as the state's labor market got back on track after a small contraction in January, the Texas Workforce Commission said Thursday. The unemployment rate was unchanged from January at 4.5 percent, in line with the national average. The seasonally adjusted jobs figure reflected the moderating economy, which is growing steadily but more slowly than it did last year.
04/08/2007 -- SPAM COSTS $712 PER EMPLOYEE ANNUALLY
Information Week - As a luncheon meat, Spam is a bargain. As unsolicited marketing, spam is a rip-off: $712 per employee per year, or $71 billon to all U.S. businesses annually. That's the cost of spam in terms of lost productivity, according to a survey released Monday by IT research firms Nucleus Research and KnowledgeStorm.
04/01/2007 -- WEBCASTS OPEN A WINDOW TO TEXAS SUPREME COURT
Houston Chronicle - While the Texas Supreme Court falls below the U.S. Supreme Court in the judicial hierarchy, it leaped ahead of its federal counterpart last week in the transparency of its proceedings.
04/01/2007 -- HOW TO CHOOSE AN EMPLOYMENT ARBITRATOR
Mediate.com - Many labor and employment lawyers are accustomed to choosing arbitrators in collective bargaining cases. They are familiar with the structure of collective bargaining arbitration and the considerations that go into choosing an arbitrator. Employment arbitration is structurally different from collective bargaining arbitration and requires different considerations in choosing an arbitrator.
04/01/2007 -- TEXAS REPRESENTATIVE PROPOSES STATE OSHA
Occupational Hazards - State Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, whose district includes Texas City, said he proposed the bill to provide “a safety net closer to home" given that a recent Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board report concluded that lax federal-OSHA oversight played a role in causing the explosion that killed 15 people and injured more than 170.
04/01/2007 -- STATE BUSINESS TAX NOW FORCAST TO FALL SHORT
Houston Chronicle - Texas' new business tax may bring in $500 million to $900 million less per year than originally projected, the state comptroller said in a draft letter to lawmakers that was obtained Tuesday by the Houston Chronicle.
04/01/2007 -- EMPLOYER COSTS FOR EMPLOYEE COMPENSATION SUMMARY
Employer costs for employee compensation averaged $27.54 per hour worked in December 2006, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Wages and salaries, which averaged $19.24 per hour, accounted for 69.9 percent of these costs, while benefits, which averaged $8.30 per hour, accounted for the remaining 30.1 percent.
PRNewswire - Manufacturing in Texas continued to expand in March, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas' Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey.
Dallas Morning News - The bill, pushed by Republican lawmakers and backed by the National Rifle Association, states that a person has no duty to retreat from an intruder in his or her home, workplace or vehicle before using deadly force. In some cases, existing law imposes an obligation to retreat.
03/27/2007 -- A PLAN TO BRING TEXAS COURTS INTO THE 21st CENTURY
Houston Chronicle - For more than 100 years, Texas' court system has met growing demand with almost spontaneous expansion. We began the administration of justice in this state with three tiers of trial courts; now, we have seven. As our courts have evolved, instead of a cohesive system of justice statewide, we are left with a different interpretation in each of Texas' 254 counties. This antiquated court system is unwieldy, inefficient and almost impossible for ordinary citizens to understand.
03/27/2007 -- STATE COURT DECIDES UNUSUAL RETALIATION CASE
HR.BLR.com - Can an employee successfully claim retaliation when his mother files an age claim, but the employer fires him? A state court of appeals recently visited that scenario.
03/27/2007 -- KEEP ON TRUCKING - SAFELY
Newswise - When 30 tons of big rig come barreling down the road, drivers in the path want to be assured that everything has been done to maximize safety and minimize the likelihood of a crash. To do this, researchers at the University of Arkansas recommend that trucking companies and transportation policymakers take a holistic approach to truck safety, and they have suggestions for where to start.
03/21/2007 -- WORKERS' HANDGUN BILL PASSES SENATE PANEL
Houston Chronicle - A Senate panel on Tuesday approved a bill, fiercely opposed by businesses, that gives workers the right to lock concealed handguns in their cars, even if the parking lot is owned by their employer. While businesses testified the bill undermines their private property rights, supporters said those rights must be balanced against the safety rights of licensed concealed handgun owners. "It just says, whether it's a public or private employer, you cannot discipline, discharge or discriminate against an employee who has a handgun in the parking lot," said Rep. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, author of the bill. The bill calls for reinstatement of an employee with back pay if an employer fires them for locking a concealed handgun in their car.
In a 335-page final report released today, federal investigators from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) conclude that "organizational and safety deficiencies at all levels of the BP Corporation" caused the March 23, 2005, explosion at the BP Texas City refinery, the worst industrial accident in the United States since 1990. The report calls on the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to increase inspection and enforcement at U.S. oil refineries and chemical plants, and to require these corporations to evaluate the safety impact of mergers, reorganizations, downsizing, and budget cuts.
03/20/2007 -- LANGUAGE SKILLS BUILD UP JOB SAFETY
Chicago Tribune - Geovany Hernandez delivers roofing materials and equipment to work sites around South Florida. But, until recently, the Spanish-speaking truck driver was dependent on others for English-language translations. "I tried to explain to my safety man that I need to improve my English," said Hernandez, 26, who participated in a company educational program based on the popular interactive toy LeapFrog Quantum Pad.
03/20/2007 -- BALANCE: THE NEW WORKPLACE PERK
Forbes.com - You work 90 hours a week. You take Aderall to make it through the day. The only balance in your work life is the energy bar you grab en route to your 13th red-eye flight this month, and you have about five years between now and complete burnout.
03/20/2007 -- A CAUTIONARY TALE OF BACK INJURY AND RECOVERY
MSNBC - Back injuries are the most frequent source of workers’ compensation claims nationally, accounting for one of every five claims, according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance. The average cost of each claim is about $13,300.
03/13/2007 -- TEXAS ECONOMY OUTPACING REST OF U.S.
North Texas eNews - The Texas economy is cooling off but continues to surpass the nation in employment growth and job creation. According to Ali Anari, research economist with the Texas A&M Real Estate Center, total non-farm employment in Texas rose 2.2% from September 2005 to September 2006, compared with 1.3% for the United States.
Austin American Statesman - State regulators are wondering if homeowners are paying too much for insurance after learning that home insurers last year posted their second most profitable year of the decade. Texas Department of Insurance spokesman Jerry Hagins said Friday that the state has instructed insurance companies to submit their current home insurance rates along with documentation to support those figures.
03/13/2007 -- POSITIVE WORKPLACE DRUG TESTS AT 18 - YEAR LOW
USA Today - Drug use by employees and job applicants tested in 2006 declined to the lowest level in 18 years, according to data to be released today by Quest Diagnostics, the nation's largest provider of employment drug testing. Among the 9 million people given urinalyses by Quest last year, 3.8% tested positive for drugs, down from 4.1% in 2005 and down from a high of 13.6% in 1988, the first year it began compiling data.
03/13/2007 -- WORKPLACE VIOLENCE DOESN'T COME OF OF THIN AIR
Asbury Park Press - Your outgoing, funny co-worker has turned into a real pain. He mumbles obscenities under his breath, spends hours grumbling about how he'd like to beat up the sales guy and, on occasion, has violent outbursts over trivial matters. What should you, as his or her peer, do about it? "Report it," said Paul Viollis, an expert in workplace violence and president of New York City-based Risk Control Strategies. "It's easy to say, 'Oh that's just so-and-so, and he's having a bad day.' Don't. Workplace violence is entirely preventable."
03/06/2007 -- WHAT BUSINESSES NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PANDEMIC FLU PLANNING
APIC - Imagine that ten percent of your employees are too sick to come to work on any given day. Imagine that cumulatively, a quarter of your workforce could be out for as many as three to four months. Imagine that the other businesses you rely on are facing the same massive absentee rates. Hard as it may be to believe, such a scenario could happen -- indeed, some health officials say it’s inevitable. The cause: a pandemic flu.
03/06/2007 -- TWC IDENTIFIES 22 COMPANIES NEGLIGENT ON EMPLOYER TAX
Houston Business Journal - The Texas Workforce Commission said Friday it has recovered nearly $1.8 million in unpaid employer taxes and interest through the use of new software technology designed to detect illegal tax-avoidance schemes. The reclaimed funds will be deposited back into the Unemployment Insurance Compensation Trust Fund.
03/06/2007 -- PAYDAY LAW OFFERS IMPORTANT GUIDANCE
Go San Angelo - Employers often have questions regarding employee and payroll issues. One of the areas small businesses have questions about is the Texas Pay Day Law. Understanding the Texas Pay Day Law is important for any business owner or entrepreneur wishing to start a business.
02/27/2007 -- TELEMEDICINE BRINGS DOCTORS TO WORKPLACE VIRTUALLY
MySA.com - For sick employees at Morningside Ministries, the question isn't whether the doctor is in, but if the doctor is on. Workers at the four elder-care residences in San Antonio and Boerne can meet with virtual in-house doctors for everything from flu to high blood pressure. They sit on exam tables facing a monitor on which they can see the doctor. On the other end, the doctor in Galveston can meet face to face with the patient while getting close-up images of skin, ears and throat.
mromagazine.com - With the rate of absenteeism on the rise, employers are losing ground when it comes to finding effective programs that keep healthy workers on the job, according to the 16th annual CCH Unscheduled Absence Survey by CCH, a provider of human resources and employment law information and services.
epionline.com - Over 46 million Americans lacked health insurance in 2005. This problem has increasingly drawn the attention of policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels. Attempts to increase health coverage have generally focused on three main types of policy proposals: mandating employer-paid health insurance, providing tax credits for low-income individuals to buy insurance, and expanding Medicaid to cover more of the uninsured. While many studies have considered the impact of these policies on the number of uninsured and the cost to the federal government, the additional impacts on employer costs and the labor market have generally been ignored.
02/22/2007 -- TEXAS LEGISLATURE PUSHES FOR MINIMUM WAGE HIKE
The Daily Texan - Texas leaders aren't leaving it up to the federal government to grant the first minimum wage increase in a decade. Representatives presented eight bills at a public hearing held by the House Committee on Economic Development Wednesday that would increase the minimum wage for state workers, two of which would tie the base rate to inflation or price indexes.
Scmagazine.com - With so many security threats on the horizon, it may be comforting to know the strongest security asset is already inside the company employees.
Brenham Banner-Press - State Representative Lois W. Kolkhorst has filed legislation which would force any employer in Texas to repay money they received from property tax abatement or economic development grants if they hired an illegal immigrant.
02/15/2007 -- EL PASO MAN FIGHTS SUSPENSION FOR SHUNNING UNION
El Paso Times - An El Paso security guard removed from his job because he refused to join a union or pay union fees is claiming the action is illegal and has succeeded in getting the National Labor Relations Board to file a complaint against the union and his employer.
02/15/2007 -- JUDGE AWARDS TEXAS MUTUAL $8.2 MILLION
Houston Buisness Journal - A Houston construction crane company executive defrauded Austin-based Texas Mutual Insurance Co. out of millions of dollars in workers compensation insurance premiums and must pay more than $8 million back, a Travis County court ruled in February.
On Feb. 6, OSHA unveiled a new workplace safety and health guidance document that will help employers prepare for an influenza pandemic. Developed in coordination with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic provides general guidance for all types of workplaces, describes the differences between seasonal, avian and pandemic influenza, and presents information on the nature of a potential pandemic, how the virus is likely to spread and how exposure is likely to occur.
02/13/2007 -- BAN iPODS AT WORK?
OCREGISTER -Storage devices like music players could be carrying your company's secrets. Experts offer ideas to prevent data theft.
02/13/2007 -- STUDY: DALLAS AREA MAY TAKE HIT FROM OFFSHORING
WFAA.com - The Dallas area could lose almost 60,000 jobs to overseas outsourcing between 2004 and 2015, according to a report being released today.
02/13/2007 -- FOR BIGGEST RAISE, FIND WORK IN TEXAS
The Washington Times - Here is a quiz to test your knowledge of Uncle Sam's white-collar pay system. If money was your goal and you worked for the Defense Department, the Interior Department or the Internal Revenue Service, where would you earn the most: Naperville, Ill.; Baytown, Texas; Huntsville, Texas; Cary, N.C.; or Washington, D.C.?
02/13/2007 -- COMPANY GOES 60 YEARS WITHOUT A WORKPLACE INJURY
PR Newswire - A subsidiary of DuPont, has set an all-time workplace safety record for the company with 60 years without an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recordable lost workday case. Since 1946, the subsidiary's Akron Laboratory in Stow, Ohio, has achieved 4.4 million exposure hours with zero recordable lost workday injuries.
02/06/2007 -- SPRAIN AND PAIN WANE: CARPAL TUNNEL SCARE OVER?
Editor and Publisher - Whatever happened to carpal tunnel syndrome? There was a time in the late 1980s and early '90s when carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and other musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) haunted newsrooms and executive suites alike with the specter of longtime copy editors succumbing to lifelong crippling pain, or reporters -- their arms wrapped as they recovered from uncertain surgeries -- struggling against deadlines with the era's sluggish voice-recognition software. In the conventional wisdom of the time, the computer keyboard and mouse that had revolutionized newsroom workflow insidiously threatened to strangle productivity one tingling hand at a time.
02/06/2007 -- BATTLE LOOMS OVER THE RIGHT TO UNIONIZE
Washington Post - With Democrats in control of Congress, labor will try to make unionizing as simple as signing a card, a move which business is already challenging as an assault on the secret-ballot process.
Texas Health Institute undertook a study to develop feasible public policy solutions that, when combined together, could cut the number of Texans without health coverage almost in half. Using the most recent estimates of uninsured per county, the study also examines the corresponding economic and fiscal impact of increasing the number of Texans with health coverage. The report, “A Vision for Change: Policy Solutions for Increasing Health Coverage in Texas”, provides policymakers and sake-holders at all levels a selection of cost-effective and workable policy solutions to deploy when solving the issue facing more than 5.6 million Texans.
02/06/2007 -- LEGISLATURE MIGHT CUT OFF DRIVERS ON PHONES
Dallas Morning News - Like many Texans, Jeff Wentworth has had his share of close calls with other motorists paying more attention to their cellphones than the road. The San Antonio lawyer considers himself lucky that he has not had a collision with any of the distracted drivers. "I've been involved in several near-accidents, and I'm convinced that in half those cases, the driver that nearly caused them was blissfully unaware that we almost collided," he said.
Grainnet.com - Edwin G. Foulke Jr., assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), today announced that President Bush has requested $490.3 million for OSHA in fiscal year 2008. The request represents an increase of nearly $18 million over the FY 2007 continuing resolution level and includes increases for federal enforcement and federal compliance assistance.
Bloomberg.com - Swedes who claim that taking a coffee break is a vital part of their job can thank a stove salesman and a rogue cherry pit for new legal protection from downtime injuries.
02/01/2007 -- WHEN IN DOUBT, OFFER A NICE PERK
New York Times - A few summers ago, Indu Navar, founder and chief executive of the Silicon Valley software maker Serus, paid for her employees to jump out of an airplane. None of them had sky-dived before, and Sumeet Haldankar, a program engineer, said the 14,500-foot plunge delivered such an adrenalin rush that people hugged and laughed giddily when they landed safely.
ScienceDaily - Exposure to work hazards and a frenetic job pace increases the likelihood of injury among adolescent and young adult workers, a new systematic review suggests. Work setting also appears to play a role in predicting the risk of injury, with food service and construction industry jobs topping the list of hazardous employment in this age group.
01/28/2007 -- NO ACCIDENTS DOESN'T MEAN LOW PREMIUMS FOR BUSINESSES
The Journal News - Last year was a great year at Fenbar Precision Machinists Inc. in Thornwood when it came to safety.The only worker who sought medical attention turned out to have a speck of dirt in his eye. A doctor washed it out and the worker was back on the job quickly. But when Len Vallender, the owner and chief executive, got an invoice for his workers' compensation renewal in the mail this month, his premium had jumped $700 to $14,000.
01/28/2007 -- WORKPLACE SAFETY: WHAT TO WATCH FOR IN 2007
BLR.com - Increasing enforcement penalties to a minimum $50,000 fine and up to 10 years in jail is just one thing to look out for in 2007. Of these enforcement cases, reminded the speaker at a recent BLR audio conference, companies pay the fines but the safety manager will most likely be among the ones serving the time in jail. This heads-up was given at a BLR audio conference on what to expect in workplace safety trends for 2007.
01/28/2007 -- PROBLEM GAMBLING PREVALENT IN THE WORKPLACE
BenefitNews.com - Is gambling a problem in your workplace? Chances are, yes. Internet gambling. Fantasy football pools. Televised poker tournaments. As gambling becomes an increasingly accepted part of our culture, it is permeating the workplace as well.
01/28/2007 -- MAQUILADORA JOBS ON BORDER DECLINE
The Brownsville Herald - The number of workers in the Texas-Mexico border maquiladora industry fell from September to October. U.S industrial production lagged during that period, dampening work in the manufacturing and assembly plants in Mexico that form the backbone of part of the Rio Grande Valley economy. Most of the six main border industrial cities — Reynosa, Matamoros, Ciudad Juárez, Ciudad Acuña and Nuevo Laredo — recorded job declines, driven primarily by losses in the transportation and textile sectors, according the most recent data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and Mexican government figures.
01/28/2007 -- AGE AS A DRIVER OF FREQUENCY AND SEVERITY
NCCI Holdings Inc. - As the leading edge of the baby boomer generation approaches age 60, it is not surprising that the aging of the workforce has become a topic of interest in workers compensation. On average, younger workers have higher incidence rates of workplace injuries and illnesses than older workers; older workers have higher costs per claim.
01/24/2007 -- TEXAS TASK FORCE ON APPRAISAL REFORM REPORT
Texas holds the dubious distinction of having the ninth highest property taxes in the nation as a percentage of personal income. Property taxes in Texas have grown from a total levy of less than $9 billion in 1985 to more than $30 billion in 2004. That represents a 233% increase in property taxes in less than 20 years. Compare that with inflation growth of 76% during the same period. From
2000 to 2004, property taxes on single family residential homes in the major metropolitan areas of Austin, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Houston, and San Antonio rose by a staggering 46%. Houston, Dallas,and Ft. Worth showed the highest property tax increases on homes with 50%, 49% and 48% increases respectively.
British Petroleum - On March 23, 2005, the BP Texas City refinery experienced a catastrophic process accident. It was one of the most serious U.S. workplace disasters of the past two decades, resulting in 15 deaths and more than 170 injuries. In the aftermath of the accident, BP followed the recommendation of the U. S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board and formed this independent panel to conduct a thorough review of the company’s corporate safety culture, safety management systems, and corporate safety oversight at its U.S. refineries. We issue our findings and make specific and extensive recommendations. If implemented and sustained, these recommendations can significantly improve BP’s process safety performance.
Themonitor.com - Hidalgo County has reduced workers’ compensation costs by millions of dollars since the entity opted to self-insure itself in 2003.
01/21/2007 -- TEXAS JOBLESS RATE HITS 5-YEAR LOW
Dallas Morning News - Texas employers added 15,600 jobs in December, and the unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent, the lowest in five years, the Texas Workforce Commission reported Friday. The state economy added 213,200 jobs in 2006, for a monthly average of 17,767.
01/20/2007 -- CONCERNS LINGER AFTER WORKERS' COMP OVERHAUL
WFAA - Over the next five months, lawmakers in Austin will consider hundreds of ideas to reform state government. For thousands of injured workers across the state, nothing is more important than improving the workers' compensation system.
01/20/2007 -- HEALTHY COMPUTING - GUIDE TO ERGONOMICS AT WORK
Microsoft - It is no surprise that these companies place such an importance on ergonomics. The applied science of equipment design has been found to directly affect a company’s bottom line. Researchers have found that individual performance increased 25 percent when employees used an ergonomically designed workstation.3 From helping to ensure a safe and productive workplace to making products that are comfortable to use, ergonomics offers important benefits for many leading companies.
The U.S. Department of Labor today published a final rule in the Federal Register codifying a longstanding policy requiring unemployment compensation beneficiaries to be able and available to work. "This rule represents our sustained effort to safeguard the integrity of state unemployment insurance systems, so that eligible unemployed workers receive the correct benefits and can quickly get back to work," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Emily Stover DeRocco.
01/16/2007 -- FOCUS ON SAFETY BEGINS TO PAY OFF FOR NISSAN
The Murfreesboro Post - Nissan North America can't make quality products, maintain high productivity levels and retain quality workers without focusing on safety, Nissan officials said. "You make improvements in safety, it usually leads to improvement in manufacturing efficiency and quality,” said Kerry Dove, manager of the human resources, safety and medical management department at Nissan.
01/16/2007 -- UNIONS, EMPLOYERS QUARREL OVER SAFETY GEAR
Bloomberg.com - For almost eight years, labor unions have been waiting for the Labor Department to finish a rulemaking that would make it clear employers are supposed to pick up the tab for safety equipment for millions of workers. Many companies already foot the bill for goggles, hard hats, ear plugs, mesh gloves, safety harnesses, and other gear that they have been required to ``provide'' since 1994. Some industry sectors, homebuilders, poultry processors and construction firms say the proposed mandate to pay is too open-ended.
themonitor.com - Times are tough at Kenneth Blankenship’s manufacturing plant. Since he started at the San Benito, Texas unit of Kokomo, Ind.-based Lorentson Manufacturing Inc. in 1991, he has seen a 36-employee outfit drop to 10 workers.
01/16/2007 -- BIG COMPANIES TURNING TO IN HOUSE HEALTH CLINICS
Theday.com - Frustrated by runaway health costs, America's largest employers are moving rapidly to open more primary-care medical centers in their offices and factories as a way to offer convenient service and free or low-cost health care.
01/11/2007 -- KENNEDY SEEKS UNIVERSAL HEALTH PLAN
Yahoo - The federal government should join the state of Massachusetts in enacting universal health coverage, said Sen. Edward Kennedy, the new chairman of the Senate committee with jurisdiction over numerous health issues. Kennedy's home state is the first to require everyone to have health insurance, just as drivers must have automobile coverage.
Electronics Supply and Manufacturing - Middle managers--especially those in IT—waste many hours a week hunting down data, says a new report. The average middle manager is swamped by useless information and spends about a quarter of work time—or two hours a day-- looking for the data they need, according the study by Accenture of 1,009 managers at U.S. and U.K based companies with annual revenue of more than $500 million.
01/11/2007 -- MORE WORKERS CONSIDER JUMPING SHIP IN '07
SHRM - Not receiving an expected bonus or raise in 2006 was the top reason 75 percent of 5,331 employed U.S. adults would look for a new job in 2007, according to a Yahoo! HotJobs survey. However, while money is a factor, it’s not the No. 1 way workers measure job success. Ninety percent said they need a strong work/life balance and a sense of fulfillment to feel successful, according to the Yahoo! survey, conducted the last two weeks of October 2006.
01/11/2007 -- ONE COMPANY FINDS A WAY TO CONTROL HEALTHCARE COSTS
Ventura County Star - Safeway, the grocery store chain, seems to have found a way to do something that has eluded almost everyone else: control its healthcare costs.
01/11/2007 -- SUPREME COURT HEARS UNION FEES LAWSUIT
Associated Press via Forbes.com - Supreme Court justices indicated Wednesday they are inclined to uphold a Washington state law restricting unions from using workers' fees for political activities.The case involves a few thousand teachers and other education employees who are in the bargaining unit and thus represented by the more than 70,000-member Washington Education Association - but who have chosen not to join the union.
01/11/2007 -- THREE TEXAS REPUBLICANS BREAK RANKS
Dallas Morning News - Three Texas Republicans broke party ranks by voting for the minimum wage increase on Wednesday: Reps. Kenny Marchant of Coppell, Lamar Smith of San Antonio and Ted Poe of Humble. Mr. Marchant noted that the federal minimum wage has been stagnant since 1996 and said the increase has overwhelming support in his district. "This increase is long overdue, and I am glad to support it," he said through a spokesman, though he also complained that Democrats rebuffed GOP efforts to link the wage increase to small-business concessions.
01/11/2007 -- WAL-MART SUPPORTS RISE IN MINIMUM WAGE
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation's largest big box retailer, said Wednesday it supports a minimum wage increase to help working families. Wal-Mart noted that in 2005, Chief Executive Leo Scott called on Congress to raise the wage, saying $5.15 an hour was "out of date with the times."
01/11/2007 -- PAY BOOST TO $7.25 IS OK'D BY HOUSE
Fort Worth Star Telegram - The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to raise the federal minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 by 2009, giving millions of poor Americans who work their best prospects in a decade to earn a higher standard of living.
CPCU eJournal & Dr. Francis Achampong, chief academic officer of Penn State University- Since the avian flu outbreaks among bird populations in Southeast Asia, Europe, and, most recently, Africa, and the infection of humans who have had direct contact with sick birds, the international health community has been extremely concerned about a possible pandemic or worldwide epidemic.
01/03/2007 -- ILLEGAL WORKERS THE TALK OF TEXAS
Houston Chronicle - They work as maids and busboys. They build homes and highways. They bone chickens on the way to market. They are worth billions of dollars to the Texas economy, but as members of the working poor they also are a drain of hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers. They are the 1.4 million illegal immigrants that the federal government estimates live in Texas.
EurekaAlert- A study of settlement decisions in workers' compensation claims for low back pain has found almost no relationship between the rating of the disability's severity when the claim was settlement and reported pain and disability 21 months later. Findings were counterintuitive: Claimants with higher disability ratings, which suggest higher severity and less ability to work, fared better than those with lower ratings.
NCCI Holdings Inc. - The high cost of traffic accident-related injuries and deaths is not limited to workers compensation claims. Traffic accidents are by far the leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States. Moreover, the total costs of traffic accidents borne by employers are many times greater than the workers compensation claims costs due to traffic accidents.
01/02/2007 -- THINK BEFORE YOU DELETE
Courier-Journal.com-Your business computer's hard drive is filling up with what seem to be outdated and useless documents. Your e-mail box is cluttered with messages covering everything from lunch invitations to employee-evaluation memos. Now, with the arrival of a new year, you might have the urge to purge. But don't be too quick to hit the delete key, legal experts say. Under new federal court rules that took effect Dec. 1, businesses should have policies in place to maintain and keep track of electronic documents, including e-mail.
12/31/2006 -- MAKING SAFETY JOB NO. 1
SHRMonline-Safety is critical in a manufacturing environment. Failure to follow safety procedures can have serious consequences, including worker deaths and injuries, absenteeism, and reduced productivity. It can also lead to increased workers’ compensation claims and higher insurance premiums for employers. With such high stakes, it’s no surprise that many HR professionals in the manufacturing sector consider safety training a top priority.
12/31/2006 -- TEXAS MANUFACTURING SINKS IN DECEMBER
CNNMoney.com-Texas manufacturing activity shrank in December, with a key gauge of production hitting the weakest level since the survey began in 2004, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said Tuesday. The reading fell to -5.2 in December from 8.5 in November, chiming with a downturn recorded by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond's poll this month of manufacturers in the mid-Atlantic states, which was also released Tuesday.
12/31/2006 -- 7 STEPS TO A SAFER WORKPLACE
Pork Magazine-Safety is not about the cost of workers’ compensation insurance. Safety is about preventing people from losing fingers, toes and even their lives on the job, says Bernie Erven, professor emeritus at The Ohio State University. It only makes sense for employees and employers to work together to create a safe work environment. To help you down that path, here are seven steps to create a safety culture within your system.
12/18/2006 -- OSHA OFFERS DISASTER RECOVERY TOOL
Business Insurance - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration unveiled on Thursday a Web-based resource for employers and employees involved in hurricane clean-up and recovery efforts. The resource—Hurricane eMatrix: Hazard Exposure and Risk Assessment Matrix for Hurricane Response and Recovery Work—gives users access to general recommendations, sampling and monitoring data, and employer/employee responsibilities applicable for any employers conducting response and recovery operations after a disaster.
12/18/2006 -- FEDERAL RULES MAKE STORING E-MAIL MANDATORY
Miami Herald - If your business is sued for copyright infringement, restraint of trade or employment discrimination, having a means in place to track electronic data is critical to successfully defending the case. Otherwise, you're likely to lose -- and pay hefty damages -- even before stepping into a federal courtroom.
12/18/2006 -- MORE BUSINESSES AWARE OF PANDEMIC FLU THREAT
PRNewswire - With an increasing number of U.S. employers acknowledging the real threat of a pandemic flu, companies have made some progress in pandemic preparedness and planning compared to one year ago. According to a survey released today by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions ("the Center"), part of Deloitte & Touche USA LLP, and The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC), there still remains a wide gap between those companies that acknowledge the threat (73 percent) and those that feel they have adequately planned (52 percent) for a pandemic flu outbreak.
Houston Chronicle - The old view of corporate exes — employees who leave for other jobs — was that they were deserters and traitors who must never be spoken of again. The new view: They're a fantastic network.
Townhall.com - Even as the new Congress prepares to convene in just a few short weeks, it’s still unclear exactly what voters can expect in terms of big domestic policy changes. Tax policy, Social Security reform, healthcare policy, the environment—all these issues loom before the new Congress, but Democrats have not yet indicated exactly where they will take the country while in the new majority.
12/13/2006 -- STUDY EXAMINES HOW SMALL FIRMS FARE IN HOUSTON AREA
Houston’s newer and growing economic subcenters have relied more on small business as their cornerstone than the older Central Business District and the Galleria area, according to a report issued today by the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The report’s findings also suggest that while small firms support urban economic growth, as development proceeds they grow substantially.
12/13/2006 -- THE HAZARDS OF WORKPLACE GIFT-GIVING
Foxnews.com & Inc.com- It may be called "Secret Santa," but the annual exchange of holiday gifts at the office can reveal plenty about employers and co-workers, gift-giving experts say. That may explain why workplace gift-giving has declined steadily over the past decade.
Thesouthern.com- As many of us head out to climb the corporate ladder, we immediately think of touching up our resumes, ironing our white business shirts, and practicing our winning smiles to increase our chances of getting the job. What we don't think about - after getting the job of a lifetime - is the drug test that is often required to seal the deal. Although this may seem like a daunting task, which is totally unnecessary, maintaining a drug-free workplace is crucial to workplace productivity and the overall safety of employees.
12/13/2006 -- INSURANCE INDUSTRY BASICS: COMBINED RATIO
MSNBC.com & Motleyfool.com- Investors who buy insurance companies with low long-term combined ratios should eventually be rewarded with superior investment returns. Just ask Warren Buffett.
12/13/2006 -- WORKPLACE INJURIES DROP TO RECORD LOW
WORKPLACE INJURIES DROP TO RECORD LOWInc.com- Workplace injuries have fallen to a record low and small businesses remain the safest places to work, according to a new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
USAToday-The Transportation Security Administration dramatically cut the injury rate for airport screeners in the past year, though it remains among the highest in the nation. On-the-job injuries, which have forced screeners to miss hundreds of thousands of workdays, fell to 16 per 100 employees in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, TSA data show. That's down from 29% in 2005 and 36% in 2004 in a trend some screeners attribute to a crackdown on injured workers.
12/13/2006 -- FEDERAL AGENTS AGENTS RAID TEXAS PLANT
WFAA.com-Federal agents raided Swift & Co. meatpacking plants in Cactus, Texas, and five other states Tuesday morning in an investigation into allegations that illegal immigrants got jobs by using identities stolen from citizens or legal residents. Some former employees are suing the company for wrongful termination, saying they were let go as a result of filing workers compensation claims after being injured on the job. The workers list injuries ranging from slipping on greasy floors to falling off ladders to being struck by a forklift.
12/13/2006 -- TEXAS LAW FIRM SOLICITS OUT OF STATE WORKERS
Themilwaukeechannel.com - As the families of the three men killed in last week's explosion at Falk Corp. bury their loved ones, a law firm has begun soliciting clients injured in the blast. Since Sunday, a Houston law firm has been taking out half-page ads in the local paper soliciting clients from the Falk disaster. The ad asks, "Were you seriously injured in last week's explosion?" and directs potential clients to the Web site of the Houston-based law firm of Williams Bailey, which boasts extensive experience in explosion cases.
WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 6, 2006 -- As the cost of providing health care continues to rise, Applied Materials, BP America, Inc., Intel Corporation, Pitney Bowes, Inc. and Wal-Mart are funding an independent nonprofit institute to develop "Dossia," a Web-based framework through which U.S. employees, dependents and retirees can maintain lifelong personal health records. Together, the companies will provide this benefit to more than 2.5 million individuals across the United States starting next year.
12/06/2006 -- U.S. MANUFACTURERS GETTING DESPERATE FOR SKILLED PEOPLE
USA Today-Michael Bunner has done everything he can think of to hire workers. He's increased pay, offered training and recently, hired a man straight out of prison. While his story isn't too surprising given that the unemployment rate of 4.4% is at a 5 ½-year low, what is unexpected is that Bunner is in the manufacturing sector, an industry that has been grabbing headlines for losing jobs.
New York Times-With the Democratic Congress expected to move quickly to raise the minimum wage, many Dempcrats, women’s organizations and liberal groups are gearing up for a fight on another workplace issue: paid sick days.
12/05/2006 -- "EXTREME" JOBS ON THE RISE
Christian Science Monitor-Eleven hours a day, seven days a week, Cynthia McKay maintains a clockwork schedule. From 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., she is in her office as CEO of LeGourmet Gift Basket in Castle Rock, Colo. That adds up to a 77-hour workweek, not counting her time at home on 24-hour call for clients around the world.
Employee Benefit Research Institute-The summary plan description (SPD) is the primary source of information for workers who participate in an employment-based health care plan. This study investigates whether private-sector employers’ SPDs are written so that an average plan participant can identify and read important information contained in the document, as required by federal law. The study collected and tested SPDs for 40 health care plans from a diverse national sample and subjected them to content and readability analyses.
12/02/2006 -- NEW RULES MAKE FIRMS TRACK E-MAILS, IM'S
RedOrbit-U.S. companies will need to keep track of all the e-mails, instant messages and other electronic documents generated by their employees thanks to new federal rules that go into effect Friday, legal experts say.
12/02/2006 -- MANUFACTURING WANES FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE '03
Austin American Statesman-The slump in housing and autos took a bite out of the nation's manufacturing sector, which in November contracted for the first time in more than three years, a trade group said Friday. Industries such as wood, furniture, appliances, fabricated metal and transportation equipment were flat or slipped last month, according to the Institute for Supply Management, based in Tempe, Ariz.
12/01/2006 -- OWNERS OF BURNED NIGHTCLUB MUST PAY COMP FINE
Business Insurance- A federal bankruptcy court judge has declined to discharge a $1.07 million penalty levied against the owners of The Station nightclub for failing to carry workers compensation insurance.
12/01/2006 -- REVISED WORKERS' COMP RATES IRK BUSINESS OWNERS
InsideBayArea.com-When the dominant nonprofit insurer in California announced this past week that it proposed a 9 percent average reduction in workers' compensation rates, some business owners were less happy than others. Sal Listek, for one, was furious. The State Compensation Insurance Fund may cut its rates for covering workplace injuries from January, but that won't affect the payments Listek will have to make. The reason: just as the rate cut kicks in, mandatory minimum wages will go from $6.75 to $7.50 an hour.
12/01/2006 -- WILL EMPLOYEES ORCHESTRATE THEIR HEALTH CARE?
HRmagazine-Hailed by some as the last best hope for harnessing employers’ health costs, but criticized by others as the last step before all health costs are shifted to employees, consumer-directed health has been at the center of controversy—and news coverage—for several years. Yet a fundamental question remains: Do consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) actually alter employee health spending habits, as advocates maintain?
San Diego Daily Transcript-The statistics on domestic violence in the workplace are alarming. An estimated 13,000 acts of domestic violence are committed in the workplace each year. Homicide is the leading cause of death for women in the workplace. The cost of domestic violence to employers has been estimated as $3 billion to $5 billion annually due to health care costs, lost productivity, high absenteeism and employee turnover rates.
The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that it is seeking information and comment from the public on the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and its implementing regulations. The request for information (RFI) will be published in the Federal Register on Friday, Dec. 1.
Lamar University Center for Public Policy Studies-The biggest problems facing Texas cities today are a lack of available jobs and workers, the strain placed on resources by population growth, the need to repair and replace aging infrastructure, a housing shortage and political leadership that often does not understand the concerns of business.
11/28/2006 -- FED: TEXAS MANUFACTURING GREW IN NOVEMBER
UPI-Manufacturing activity in Texas continued to expand this month, but several indexes were weaker than in October. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said Monday its production index was essentially unchanged in November, 8.5 compared with 8.4 in October. Readings above zero denote expansion, while negative levels indicate contraction.
11/28/2006 -- STUDY RANKS TEXAS WORKERS' COMP RATES 17th HIGHEST
The state of Oregon has released its biennial study on national workers' compensation premiums. The study, based on rates that were in effect Jan. 1, 2006, ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Title VII's statute of limitations applied to periodic paychecks.
11/28/2006 -- HIGH COURT HEARS PAY-DISCRIMINATION CASE
Washington Post-Employees must complain about pay discrimination within six months or forfeit their claim, the Supreme Court was told Monday in a case closely watched by companies and civil rights groups.
11/28/2006 -- BUT ARE YOU REALLY SICK?
St. Louis Post-Dispatch-Unscheduled workplace absenteeism is at its highest level in seven years, with only about a third of workers missing work because of personal illness, according to the annual CCH Unscheduled Absence Survey. Or, to put it bluntly: Nearly two-thirds of all workers who call in sick aren't.
11/26/2006 -- GETTING ENGLISH AT WORK
Austin American Statesman-When Martín Yanez arrived in Austin and started working as a dishwasher at Güero's Taco Bar, he didn't know much English and spoke only to other Spanish-speakers. But about six years later, with the help of English classes held at Güero's along the way, the immigrant from Guanajuato, Guanajuato, can say and understand a lot more.
11/26/2006 -- LAWMAKERS WILL START NEW SESSION WITH UNUSUAL PROPOSALS
Waco Tribune-Herald-Here’s a chance to digest a few of the unusual bills the Legislature will consider when it convenes Jan. 9 through May 28 — recognizing Athens, Texas, as the original home of the hamburger and suggesting changes to rules that govern the road, pocketbook, courthouse and even the prison phone system.
11/22/2006 -- STUDY QUESTIONS NEED TO OPERATE ON DISK INJURIES
New York Times-People with ruptured disks in their lower backs usually recover whether or not they have surgery, researchers are reporting today. The study, a large trial, found that surgery appeared to relieve pain more quickly but that most people recovered eventually and that there was no harm in waiting.
PRNewswire- The Texas Employee Confidence Index rose 1.3 points to 63.3 in October, primarily due to more workers expressing confidence in their ability to find a new job, according to the Spherion® Employment Report, a monthly survey conducted by Harris Interactive® on behalf of Spherion Corporation.
Lufkin Daily News-A Carthage jury awarded a California woman $36 million in a civil suit she filed against Lufkin Industries seeking damages from a 2003 motor vehicle collision with an 18-wheel tractor trailer built by the company.
11/21/2006 -- PAULSON SAYS BUSINESS IS OVER-REGULATED
Washington Post-Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. yesterday criticized the nation's "ever-expanding rulebook" and its burdensome legal system for constraining the economy but rejected wholesale revisions to a corporate accountability law under attack from business groups.
New York Times-Houston’s major cleaning companies and the union representing 5,300 janitors there announced a tentative contract yesterday that ends a monthlong strike, raises the workers’ hourly wages by nearly 50 percent over two years and provides them health coverage.
11/21/2006 -- WHAT'S THE MOST COMMON WORKPLACE INJURY OR ILLNESS?
Reliable Plant-Sprains and strains was the leading nature of injury and illness in every major industry sector in 2005. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, they accounted for 41 percent of all workplace injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work.
11/20/2006 -- THE AGEING WORKFORCE: CHALLENGE OR OPPORTUNITY?
Towers Perrin-Much has been written about the aging of the working population and the potential implications this trend holds for employers, financial markets and the overall economy. The possible workforce scenarios predicted to play out during the next five to 10 years range from demographic doomsday (i.e., severe labor shortages because of baby boomer retirements) to a soft landing (i.e., minimal workforce disruptions as the boomers continue working past traditional retirement age).
11/18/2006 -- WHAT TO DO WITH PPE WHEN THERE'S AN ACCIDENT
FireRescue1.com-As well as our clothing and equipment protect against a myriad of hazards, they can’t always prevent severe injuries or fatalities. Although it can be a delicate matter, fire departments must preserve and inspect the gear worn by a firefighter at the time of an accident.
Health Affairs- Large and mid-size employers are “between a rock and hard place” when it comes to health benefits: They are both unable to manage their health care costs effectively or simply get out of offering these benefits entirely. Although there is considerable diversity in how employers approach health care, several goals underlie most of their decisions.It is unlikely that the current round of employer-based health initiatives will succeed at managing rising costs. As a result, employers are likely to become more interested than
at any time in the past decade in exiting their roles as providers of health benefits.
11/18/2006 -- HOSPITAL BASED CLINICS CAN CHARGE MORE
USA Today-Concerned about a possible toenail infection, Lori Mill went to her doctor's office in an outpatient clinic owned by the Virginia Mason Medical Center in downtown Seattle. Her doctor clipped off a piece of nail and sent it to the lab. Total tab: $1,133. Mill found out later that she could have paid hundreds less for the same thing had she gone to one of Virginia Mason's seven other, more suburban, outpatient clinics, where her doctor also practices. Her situation illustrates a practice that is legal and common, but little known to patients: Some medical clinics are considered "hospital-based" and charge additional fees for the same services, even if they aren't inside an actual hospital.
San Antonio Express News-Seasonal gains in school hiring combined with solid growth by manufacturers and retailers to push nonfarm employment in San Antonio up by 600 jobs in October, work force officials said Friday. The resulting 0.1 percent monthly growth was less than the area experienced in the previous two months and was the weakest of the five largest metropolitan areas in the state.
11/18/2006 -- ECONOMISTS PREDICT DALLAS, HOUSTON SLOWDOWNS
GlobeSt.com-With the 2007 forecast season rolling out, leading economists are making it clear that the signs are in place for a much slower growth rate in Texas. It's not been labeled a recession, but Dallas and Houston economies are going to feel the pinch.
11/18/2006 -- SENATOR PROPOSES SMOKE-FREE WORKPLACE LAW
Smoking in bars, restaurants and other public places in Texas would be banned under legislation the "Texas Smoke-Free Workplace Law." The bill would ban smoking in all public places and work sites.
Health Affairs-Despite intense health care cost pressures, firms covering more than 90 percent of the nation's workforce view health benefits as an important tool to attract and retain qualified workers, according to a national study by researchers at the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) and the Commonwealth Fund.
PricewaterhouseCoopers-Healthcare spending in the U.S. is expected to increase by double digits in 2007, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. The medical cost trend projections are used by insurance carriers and employers to set health insurance premiums levels and design benefit packages offered in 2008. Early estimates reflect widespread optimism that health spending can be curbed if consumers share more of the costs.
11/15/2006 -- HARRASSMENT LESSONS CONGRESS COULD LEARN
Star Tribune-When Florida Republican Rep. Mark Foley's "overly friendly" e-mails to a congressional page surfaced, members of Congress apparently failed to follow the basic sexual harassment policies to which private employers long have been held.
New York Times-After the Republicans took control of the House in 1994, perhaps no group was on the outs as much as organized labor. But now that the Democrats have swept both houses of Congress, the nation’s labor unions feel as if they are back — and then some.
11/15/2006 -- WHAT ORGANIZED LABOR WANTS, AT A GLANCE
Washington Post-Some legislative measures that are priorities for organized labor after the elections put Democrats in power in Congress.
11/09/2006 -- WORKPLACE INJURIES DROP TO RECORD LOW
Inc.com-Workplace injuries have fallen to a record low and small businesses remain the safest places to work, according to a new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Fort Worth Star Telegram-Low wage workers, those earning less than $9.73 an hour last year, are a broadly diverse group in terms of race, sex, age and marital status, but they have less education, on average, than higher-paid employees.
11/09/2006 -- ECONOMIC PROSPECTS REMAIN STRONG FOR SAN ANTONIO
San Antonio Express News-Economic prospects remain strong in Texas and San Antonio, despite a slowdown nationally, economists from Texas A&M University and the local branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said Tuesday.
11/09/2006 -- NEW EMPLOYEES MORE LIKELY TO JUMP SHIP
Employees with less than two years' service are twice as likely to leave their organisations as those with more than two years tenure.
11/05/2006 -- WORKER SHORTAGE LOOMS FOR UTILITY INDUSTRY
Associated Press - Austin American Statesman- Raymond Miller doesn't want to flip a light switch one night and find out he's in the dark because there weren't enough workers to keep the country's power industry going. "I think there's a good chance there will be a serious problem if the industry can't find enough people quickly enough to fill jobs that are already coming open," said Miller, the University of Cincinnati's superintendent of utilities and a former manager in the commercial power industry.
11/05/2006 -- WHY YOUR FIRM MAY NEED A BLOG POLICY
The Arizona Republic- There are about 10 million blogs in the United States, and employees of companies make many of the posts. Comments about bosses, co-workers, firings and other workplace events are shared with millions of readers. Companies such as Microsoft, IBM and Sun Microsystems actually support employee blogs and host them on their Web sites.
11/02/2006 -- SUPREME COURT CASE: ARE JURY AWARDS TOO HIGH?
Christian Science Monitor-Jesse Williams smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for 45 years. Following his death in 1997 after being diagnosed with lung cancer, his wife, Mayola, sued the Philip Morris tobacco company seeking $100 million in punitive damages. The Oregon jury that heard her case rejected the $100 million request. Instead, it awarded her $79.5 million.
11/02/2006 -- THE BOSS PUTS THE IPOD TO WORK
Computer World and Wall Street Journal-When Gaddis Rathel needed to learn Spanish for his job, his boss gave him an unusual tool to help: a black video iPod, preloaded with language lessons. Last month, Rathel's employer -- ACG Texas LP, a Plano, Texas, franchisee of the pancake-house chain IHOP Corp. -- started testing Apple Computer Inc.'s digital media player on a few employees to save money on Spanish-language classes. Now, rather than sit in a class on company time or read a textbook, Rathel uses the iPod for audio training in his spare time.
KLTV-Tyler-Some viewers have written KLTV 7 asking 'why did union workers go on strike, if Goodyear was already planning to close the Tyler plant?' We posed that question to the union Tuesday.
11/02/2006 -- EMPLOYEE PRIVACY, EMPLOYER POLICY
SecurityFocus - Your organization has a computer and Internet use policy. Fine. It’s been reviewed by corporate counsel, approved by senior management, and implemented over the years. The policy is comprehensive - it includes policies on expectations of privacy, employee monitoring, and the ownership of corporate electronic assets. Now, during the course of an internal investigation, you want to read an employees' e-mail, examine the contents of his company-supplied computer, and review his telephone calls made on the company-owned cell phone. You are all set, right? Umm... not so fast.
11/01/2006 -- SAFETY BOARD CALLS FOR REFINERY CHANGES
Austin American Statesman -An investigative board Tuesday urged the petroleum industry and federal regulators to eliminate from all U.S. refineries the type of atmospheric vent that caused last year's deadly explosion at a BP PLC plant in Texas City.
11/01/2006 -- BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS EMPLOYMENT COST INDEX
The Employment Cost Index a component of the National Compensation Survey, measures quarterly changes in compensation costs, which include wages, salaries, and employer costs for employee benefits for civilian workers (nonfarm private industry and state and local government). Increases in benefit costs accounted for one-third of the rise in compensation costs for civilian workers
11/01/2006 -- JUSTICES WEIGH LIMITS ON PUNITIVE DAMAGES
New York Times-The Supreme Court is accustomed to drawing fine lines. But during arguments on Tuesday on the limits the Constitution places on punitive damages, the proposed line between the permissible and the unconstitutional was so fine that the justices appeared close to giving up.
10/31/2006 -- EMPLOYERS, INSURERS PUSH GENERICS HARDER
Wall Street Journal-Wielding both carrots and sticks, a growing number of companies are trying harder to push generic drugs on their employees.At prices often 80% cheaper than those of brand-name medicines, generics have become a key tool for health insurers and employers trying to hold back soaring medical costs. There's hardly a health plan today that doesn't use higher copayments on branded drugs as a way to nudge employees toward less-expensive copycat versions.
10/31/2006 -- GOODYEAR PLANS TO SHUT STRIKEBOUND TYLER PLANT
Houston Chronicle -Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. said Monday that it plans to close a plant in Tyler three weeks after workers at the East Texas plant and 15 others in North America went on strike, in part because of the tire maker's plan to shut down a factory. The move will eliminate about 1,100 jobs and is part of Goodyear's strategy to end some of its private label tire business.
HR.BLR.COM-Half of employers with 1,000 or employees in the United States had an incident of workplace violence within the 12 months prior to completing a new survey on workplace violence prevention, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.
Reliable Plant-According to results of the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey, released October 30, the state’s manufacturing activity expanded in October, but a larger share of factories reduced output than in the previous month.
10/29/2006 -- WORKPLACE AWOL RATES ARE RISING
AP - Austin American Statesman-Skipping work without a good reason? You have lots of company.Unscheduled absenteeism at U.S. companies and organizations has climbed to its highest level since 1999, according to an annual nationwide survey of human resources executives.The survey, conducted for CCH Inc. by the Harris Interactive consulting firm, put the absenteeism rate at 2.5 percent in 2006, up from 2.3 percent a year ago and the highest since seven years ago, when it was 2.7 percent.The survey found that personal illness accounts for only 35 percent of unscheduled absences, with the rest due to family issues (24 percent), personal needs (18 percent), stress (12 percent) and an entitlement mentality (11 percent).
10/27/2006 -- U.S. LABOR DEPARTMENT RELEASES STRATEGIC PLAN
U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao has submitted the Department of Labor's Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2006-2011 to Congress and the Office of Management and Budget. The plan, which puts increased emphasis on partnerships with industry and education providers for more effective job training, is the first update for the department in three years.
10/27/2006 -- NONCOMPETE CONTRACTS GET A BOOST IN TEXAS
Austin American Statesman-A Texas Supreme Court ruling could make it easier for companies to enforce noncompete contracts with employees. In what labor attorneys are calling a pro-business result to a closely watched case, the court has relaxed a crucial requirement on noncompete agreements, which are increasingly used in industries as diverse as high tech, banking and manufacturing. In such covenants, an employer agrees to provide a resource, such as sensitive business research, in exchange for an employee's promise not to jump to a rival firm that could benefit from the information. With its unanimous decision last week, the high court changed guidance in place since a 1994 decision.
Mobile Awarness-Motor vehicle crashes cost US employers over $60 billion annually in medical costs, legal expenditure, property damage, and lost productivity. While costs by state and Industry vary, on-the-job crash injuries (fatal and non-fatal) amount to about 6.5 percent of all crash injuries. As a result, the cost of workers’ compensation, Social Security benefits, health and disability insurance continues to rise. An investment in a comprehensive motor vehicle accident prevention program can be a winning approach to reducing these expenses and an effective tool for helping limit your company`s liability exposure.
10/27/2006 -- HEALTHCARE SECTOR SECOND IN INJURIES AND ILLNESSES
Out of all U.S. industries, only manufacturing exceeded healthcare and social assistance in the number of reported nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses. Healthcare and social assistance accounted for 15% of all injuries and 18.6% of illnesses reported by U.S. businesses, according to an October 19 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report.
10/24/2006 -- SAFETY IN THE WORKPLACE: BE RIGOROUS, NOT RUTHLESS
American Chronicle-You may have read the book Good to Great, by Jim Collins. In his book he explains how many companies thought being good is… well, “good enough.” In these times of constant change and global competition, it is important to always look for improvement --especially when it comes to safety.
Chicago Sun-Times-City workers with political clout claim to be injured at a rate that far exceeds any occupation tracked by the U.S. Department of Labor, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis by the Chicago Sun-Times that raises questions about whether all those city workers really were injured, and whether the city adequately investigates workplace accidents
10/23/2006 -- FATALITIES AT WORK ANALYZED
The Dallas Morning News-Construction continues to lead in workplace fatalities in Texas, particularly for Hispanics, according to a 2005 study released this week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
10/23/2006 -- MOST EMPLOYEES GO TO WORK EVEN WHEN SICK
Star Telegram-Instead of eating chicken soup and staying home in bed, most employees come to work when they're feeling under the weather, one recent survey shows.
10/23/2006 -- WHAT TYPE OF PERSON IS ACCIDENT-PRONE?
The Register-"Accident-prone" means one suffers a greater number of accidents than normal. Researchers are trying to discover if there is a certain type of person who is accident-prone.
Wall Street Journal-Worried that unnecessary diagnostic tests are adding to the nation's soaring medical costs, federal health-care officials are moving to shrink loopholes that let doctors profit from referring patients for MRI scans and other costly medical tests. They also are examining whether physicians across the nation are billing Medicare appropriately for scanning done in their offices.
Houston Chronicle- Meeting the needs of ordinary Texans and maintaining a business climate that attracts and keeps employers are top priorities for Gov. Rick Perry and his challengers in the Nov. 7 gubernatorial election.
ASSOCIATED PRESS AND LAW.COM-Officials at an elementary school south of Boston have banned kids from playing tag, touch football and any other unsupervised chase game during recess for fear they'll get hurt and hold the school liable. Recess is "a time when accidents can happen," said Willett Elementary School Principal Gaylene Heppe, who approved the ban.
10/19/2006 -- BODY ART IN THE WORKPLACE
Arizona Daily Star- Colleen Harris doesn't fit the stereotype of the buttoned-up librarian. Her arms are covered with a pirate-queen motif and black, scrolling tattoos, which extend down the side of her body to her ankle. A black rose and the words "Dangerous Magic" adorn the back of her left hand, and the words "Anam Cara" (old Gaelic for "soul friend") letter her knuckles.
The Dallas Morning News-Employers need to improve their recruiting and retention practices if they're to weather the worker shortage that economists expect over the next 10 years as the baby boomers start to retire, says a study being released today by the American Business Collaboration.
Arlington News- “Contract labor” may be the most widely used misnomer in business today and poses a growing concern for Texas employers – tax penalties that could have been avoided.
10/18/2006 -- STUDY: WORKERS OFTEN JOT DOWN PASSWORDS
One in three people write down computer passwords, undermining their security, and companies should look to more advanced methods, including biometrics, to ensure their systems are safe, a new study shows.
Pampa News- An Austin lobbyist thinks that as soon as business owners begin writing checks for the new margin tax passed by the Texas Legislature last spring, things will change.
10/18/2006 -- DRUG-FREE WORK WEEK
October 16-22, 2006 is the first-ever Drug-Free Work Week, and employers and workers across the country are encouraged to participate. The purpose of Drug-Free Work Week is to educate employers, employees and the general public about the importance of being drug-free as a component of improving workplace safety and health and to encourage workers with alcohol and drug problems to seek help.
ABC News-I'm appalled reading the results of the ABC News poll on health care. Nearly eight in 10 favor a federal requirement that all employers offer insurance to their full-time workers. Nearly two-thirds favor such a requirement for part-time employees as well."
10/17/2006 -- BACK PAIN IS BEHIND A DEBATE
USA TODAY-Debate about how much back surgery is needed remains contentious. Some researchers say too much is being done while others say advances in treatments are helping more Americans hobbled by back pain to regain their lives.
10/15/2006 -- EARNINGS FOR INSURERS ARE SOARING
New York Times-Industry experts are estimating that profits may reach $60 billion, on a combination of higher premiums along the coasts, no major payouts for natural disasters and strong investment returns. The insurers also had high profits on other lines of coverage like auto insurance, workers compensation and general liability.
10/12/2006 -- WHERE WILL THE JOBS GO?
The Signal-California has the highest workers' compensation costs and the highest health care premiums of any of the western states. An employer with such nearby options to expand in lower-tax, lower-cost states would be foolish to expand in California.
10/12/2006 -- INSURERS GET AN EARFUL FROM SENATOR
New York Times-Mr. Lott, a Republican and former majority leader, is one of thousands of homeowners on the Gulf Coast who have been fighting with their insurers over payments for damage in Hurricane Katrina. In an interview yesterday, he said he was angry about the insurers’ “insensitivity and outright meanness” in rejecting many homeowners’ claims.
10/12/2006 -- POPEYES AGREES TO SETTLE SEXUAL HARRASSMENT SUIT
Houston Chronicle-A Houston Fast Foods, a franchisee who owns the Popeyes, agreed to settle a lawsuit that was filed on behalf of the women by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in September.
10/12/2006 -- RETHINKING LOADING DOCK PROFITABILITY AND SAFETY
Manufacturing.Net- If you think your loading dock is operating at peak efficiency and making progress toward a good safety record, it’s now time to re-think. Here’s why: two emerging dock issues – dock shock and trailer drop – threaten to adversely affect the profitability and safety of virtually any food manufacturing operation with a dock.
Law.com-An electronic communications policy (ECP) Along with saving employees time, such policies can improve employee morale, prevent employee/management disagreements and keep users out of court.
10/11/2006 -- RETIREMENT CHALLENGES FOR THE 21st CENTURY
Government Accountability Office-Presentation before the annual employee benefits conference sponsored by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Hofstra Labor and Employment Law Journal-Unilateral-modification clauses give one party the unfettered right to amend or reject the underlying contract, often with neither notice to nor consent from the other party. State and federal courts are divided on the issue of whether employment arbitration agreements subject to such clauses are enforceable.
Dallas Business Journal-Big U.S. companies spend an average of $20 million a year -- 70 percent of their legal budgets -- on suing or being sued, a survey by international law firm has found.
10/10/2006 -- NONSUBSCRIBER MINIMIZES WORKPLACE INJURIES
Convenience Store Decisions-New employees complete a computer-based safety training course and are given a copy of the company safety manual. Twice a year, the company also conducts a company-wide safety audit for all employees.
10/09/2006 -- EXPERT: DIALOGUE MAKES SAFETY TRAINING MORE EFFECTIVE
Occupational Hazards-Of all the critical components of safety training, Tulane University professor Michael Burke believes dialogue often is the one that's overlooked.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) today announced the launch of a new interactive Web site to serve as a resource for employers in complying with the various federal health benefit laws. The Health Benefits Advisor is designed to help employers and other plan officials understand their responsibilities in operating group health plans.
10/04/2006 -- VIOLENCE IN THE WORKPLACE-AN UPDATED ANALYSIS
Progress continues to be made in reducing workplace homicides in the private sector, where the 14% decline in 2004 (from 0.52 per 100,000 workers in 2003 to 0.45 in 2004) was nearly four times the more modest 4% decline of the homicide rate for the nation as a whole.
The Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers' Compensation proposes amendments to §133.10, concerning Required Billing Forms/Formats. These amendments are necessary to revise the effective dates for the use of nationally standardized pharmacy billing forms for paper billings.
10/04/2006 -- PREVENTING WORKER INJURIES & DEATHS FROM MOBILE CRANES
A new NIOSH Alert provides recommendations for reducing risk of work-related injury and death when working on or around mobile cranes.
09/28/2006 -- SMALL BUSINESS DRIVES THE U.S. ECONOMY
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Small business continues to drive the United States economy, according to a report issued today by the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Newly released data show that in 2005, small businesses represented 99.7 percent of all the nation’s employer businesses.
09/26/2006 -- AVIAN FLU CONCERNS OUTPACE WORKPLACE PREPARDNESS
Yahoo Finance-Seventy percent of respondents said they believed avian flu was likely to hit North America, but only 25 percent responded "yes" when asked, "Has your company engaged in building a plan in the event of an actual outbreak of the avian flu?" Forty percent expressed concern about an avian flu outbreak in their workplace.
09/26/2006 -- GAO REPORT ON TERROR INSURANCE
Measuring and Predicting Losses from Unconventional Weapons Is Difficult, but Some Industry Exposure Exists.
09/26/2006 -- DRUG FREE WORK WEEK
October 16-22, 2006 is the first-ever Drug-Free Work Week, and employers and workers across the country are encouraged to participate. The purpose of Drug-Free Work Week is to educate employers, employees and the general public about the importance of being drug-free as a component of improving workplace safety and health and to encourage workers with alcohol and drug problems to seek help.
09/26/2006 -- TEXAS RAISES WORKERS' COMP BENEFITS FOR 2007
Insurance Journal-The Texas Department of Insurance Division of Workers' Compensation reported that the workers' compensation state average weekly wage for Fiscal Year 2007 is set at $673.80 and is effective for dates of injury from Oct. 1, 2006, through Sept. 30, 2007.
09/26/2006 -- HEALTH INSURANCE IS TWICE INFLATION RATE
Houston Chronicle-The 7.7 percent increase this year was still more than twice the rate of inflation.
Sacramento Bee-José Hernández was good with a machete. So he was the top choice when his boss needed someone to chop down young trees that were choking parts of Florida's Everglades.
Occupational Hazards- Workers' compensation is an unfortunate example of how a seemingly fair program can be manipulated by political forces into a nightmare for those it was originally meant to help," said CJ&D attorney and policy analyst Amy Widman, the report's author.
09/23/2006 -- REPORT PUTS EMPLOYEE COMPENSATION AT $26.86 PER HOUR
Reliable Plant- Employer costs for employee compensation averaged $26.86 per hour worked in June 2006, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on September 22
09/20/2006 -- JURY SENDS MAN BACK TO DEATH ROW
Fort Worth Star Telegram-Attorneys contend that he shouldn't be executed because his paranoid schizophrenia and frustrations about a workers' compensation claim led to the killing spree.
BenefitsNews.com -The U.S. District court for the Northern District of Texas refused to dismiss a claim brought by a retiree under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) against his former employer.
Texas Medical Association - A chiropractor is not a medical doctor, and a state agency has no legal authority to blur the line between them, the nation’s largest state medical society said today in a lawsuit challenging recent decisions by the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners.
Last night, Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (TX-26) introduced H.R. 6053, Health Care Price Transparency Act of 2006. According to Congressman Burgess "We currently have a health care system that is badly in need of reform.
09/13/2006 -- EEO-1 REPORT FOR 2006 DUE FROM EMPLOYERS SEPT. 30
The EEO-1 Report – formally known as the “Employer Information Report” – is a government survey requiring many employers to provide a count of their employees by job category and then by ethnicity, race and gender.
09/13/2006 -- COMPANIES GET DISASTER PLANS GOING, BUT GAPS REMAIN
USA Today With hurricane season in high gear, more employers are launching disaster plans that ensure employees get paid or business continues if the worst happens.
NCCI Holdings Inc. The incidence rate of manufacturing injuries has been declining since the mid-1920s. A new NCCI study analyzes the underlying factors driving the observed pattern of declining incidence rates.
09/12/2006 -- WORKPLACE SAFETY MAIN REASON WORKERS WANT UNIONS
Emploment Law Alliance-A new Employment Law Alliance (ELA) poll, surveying working Americans just prior to the Labor Day holiday, finds the nation sharply divided over the perception of organized labor and the role it plays in the changing workplace.
09/08/2006 -- HEADACHES PERSIST AFTER ARBITRATION AWARD
Law.com-For a good example of how far some attorneys and litigants are willing to go to overturn an arbitration decision, look no further than a May 18 hearing in Dallas.
09/08/2006 -- VIOLENCE 'SPILLING' INTO WORK
Corpus Christi Caller Times-When people hear of a shooting at a night spot, the reaction isn't likely to be: "Of all places." But at a theater, where children see Disney movies? Or at a bakery with a reputation for fine wedding cakes? Both have occurred in Corpus Christi since March.
09/08/2006 -- DRUGS AND ALCOHOL AT WORK DON'T WORK
HR.BLR.com-Of 12.3 million adult illicit drug users, 9.4 million -- or 77 percent -- are employed. And an estimated 6.2 percent of full-time working adults are heavy drinkers. The consequences are potentially disastrous, not only for those who fly planes or operate nuclear power plants, but for anyone whose work demands alertness and attention.
09/08/2006 -- WILL TEXAS FOLLOW OTHER STATES IN RAISING MINIMUM WAGE?
Houston Chronicle-Arkansas has done it. North Carolina and Florida, too. But whether Texas may soon follow other red states that on their own have raised their minimum wage above the federal rate of $5.15 an hour remains a question.
BENEFITSBLOG-The case holds that a merger agreement can act as a plan amendment of a benefit plan, even though it is not labeled as a plan amendment. The case also holds that the "no-third-party-beneficiary" clause which is standard in these types of agreements will not protect the surviving company from claims of participants since those claims are protected under ERISA.
09/08/2006 -- CHINA TO SPEND 60 BILLION ON WORKPLACE SAFETY
Asia Pacific News-China is to spend nearly $60 billion over the next five years in a bid to improve safety in industrial workplaces, according to state media.
Buzzle.com-Too often individuals and companies become complacent when it comes to safety. Managers are satisfied with mediocre safety performance and do not work to improve the environment. Employees are content and are not attentive to their work environments. Over time, the entire organization gives little meaningful attention to safety.