New OSHA Injury Reporting Requirement Now Effective

New OSHA Injury Reporting Requirement Now Effective

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) now requires employers in certain high-hazard industries to submit more injury and illness information that will be made available to the public. Affected organizations have until March 2 to comply.

Affected organizations must submit Forms 300 and 301, Injury and Illness Incident Report, to OSHA once a year using OSHA’s new filing system, Injury Tracking Application (ITA). These are in addition to Form 300A. The ruling affects covered establishments with 100 or more employees at any point during the year, and whose primary activity falls within certain categories.

OSHA has created an ITA Coverage Application to help establishments determine whether they must comply with these new requirements. The application is available here

Go here to submit forms through the ITA

According to OSHA estimates, 50,000 establishments will now be required to submit case-specific injury and illness data, which will result in reports on approximately 750,000 injury/illness cases annually. OSHA will publish the submitted data on a public website. It’s expected that this public site will include safety data, accident narratives, accident counts, injury types, and other information that does not identify employees.

OSHA says the data is needed to help identify establishments with specific hazards and improve worker safety and health. 

The new rule is available here.

A list of frequently asked questions is available here.

More information is available here.

DOL Issues Final Rule on Worker Eligibility for Benefits

The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a final rule for determining whether a worker is an employee eligible for benefits and overtime, or simply an independent contractor. DOL says the rule is an attempt to stop employers from “misclassifying” workers as independent contractors to shrink the bottom line. It is scheduled to take effect March 11; however, Republican lawmakers in both chambers have said they will file bills to stop the new rule.

DOL says the new rule restores the multifactor analysis, used by courts for decades, to determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. The rule uses the following six factors to determine whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor:

  • The worker’s opportunity for profit or loss.
  • The financial stake and nature of any resources a worker has invested in the work.
  • The degree of permanence of the work relationship.
  • The degree of control an employer has over the person’s work.
  • Whether the work the person does is essential to the employer’s business.
  • The worker’s skill and initiative.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said he will introduce a Congressional Review Act resolution to repeal the rule. The resolution of disapproval would need to be approved by both houses of Congress and signed by the president.

OSHA Fines to Increase

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has increased its fines for civil safety violations, effective Jan. 16.

Maximum penalties for serious and other-than-serious violations increase to $16,131 per violation from $15,625 per violation. Additionally, OSHA may impose fines of up to $16,131 for posting violations. The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations increases to $161,323 per violation from $156,259 per violation.

Minimum fines for serious violations are $1,190 per violation and minimum fines for willful or repeated violations are $16,131.

The increases are the result of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act passed in 2015, which requires agencies to make annual adjustments in civil monetary penalties based on inflation.

More information is available here and here.

Annual Report Identifies WC Insurance Carrier Concerns

The National Council on Compensation Insurance’s annual survey of workers’ compensation insurance carrier executives finds their concerns remain essentially the same as in previous surveys, although the executives say they are preparing for new challenges, such as climate change, the expansion of marijuana legislation, the impacts of artificial intelligence, and the prospects for wearables and other new safety technologies.

Overall, the insurers’ top concerns remain rate adequacy, the shifting workplace and workforce, medical inflation, and economic uncertainty. NCCI says its data show a strong and healthy workers’ compensation system and that it expects a 2023 combined ratio under 100, which would be the 10th consecutive year of underwriting profitability. It cited positive developments that include the following:

  • Claim frequency has steadily decreased for two decades. While data showed some volatility during the COVID-19 pandemic, 2022 returned to the long-term decline in claim frequency.
  • Medical severity has been moderate in recent years. Even over the last two years as inflation has climbed, price pressure on medical WC claims costs has been slow to rise. Additionally, fee schedules in most states are functioning well as a control mechanism for most categories of medical costs.
  • Wages have risen significantly since the pandemic, and higher wages generally translate to higher indemnity payouts. However, because premiums are based on wages, higher indemnity costs are naturally offset by increasing premiums.
  • Strong employment and wages, declining loss frequency relative to premium, and moderate changes in claim severity all contribute to a continuation of declining loss costs.

The 2023 Carrier Executive Survey includes responses from 101 executives representing 98 companies, including the largest multiline, multistate carriers as well as many smaller, regional, and single-line workers’ compensation insurers.

More information about the survey is available here.

Survey Highlights Workplace Shifts, Trends for 2024

There likely will be more Gen Zers working full-time in 2024 than Baby Boomers, according to a report from Glassdoor about workplace trends it expects to see this year. The development could be significant for organizations, as Gen Z workers have different priorities than do Baby Boomers.

Glassdoor also expects wages to continue increasing, but noncash benefits could erode. Glassdoor says its benefits data suggest that the shares of employees with access to 401(k) plans, dental insurance, tuition assistance, commuter assistance, gym memberships and mobile phone discounts has declined, and the share reporting access to vision insurance has stagnated.

Meanwhile, employers who laid off workers in 2023 have seen sharp drops in employee satisfaction, as measured by Glassdoor ratings. These effects are still ongoing sometimes as long as 180 days after the layoffs.

The report also cites the proliferation of AI and predicts that while AI will make it easier to access information and increase productivity for some workers in the long term, it will also increase the value placed on human peer-to-peer interaction. The report notes the impacts on labor productivity are unlikely to be immediately visible in official statistics, but that in the interim there are risks that — as with many new technologies — could exacerbate the social isolation that has become endemic in the workplace.

Other trends cited in the report include:

  • Equity compensation will decline for a second consecutive year as competition for skilled workers cools.
  • Middle managers at large companies will feel the squeeze from above and from below.
  • Return-to-office carrots, sticks and carrot sticks. Companies tread cautiously with top talent; unspoken workplace social codes become more important.
  • Less rigid remote work policies will draw workers toward smaller companies.

The full report is available here.

Majority of Employers Cite Employee Satisfaction as Organization’s Top Goal

The rising costs of health care coupled with the stresses of modern working life have made employee health and well-being an increasingly critical priority for employers. Investing in workplace wellness initiatives yields benefits in productivity, absenteeism, recruitment, retention, company culture and more. However, designing and implementing impactful programs comes with substantial challenges. Employers must balance quality programming with cost management, account for diverse workforce needs, and leverage data analytics to gauge value.

To better understand the value of products and programs that support employee health, the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI) conducted a mixed-methods research study analyzing survey data from 305 HR professionals in the United States alongside qualitative insights. Data collection focused on factors driving benefits priorities, implementation challenges, partnerships, use of data and metrics, lessons from the pandemic, tensions between employee desires and business objectives, and recommendations for strategic investment.

IBI’s survey found that 51% of employers cited employee satisfaction as their organization’s most important goal, followed by cost mitigation/revenue generation (41%). Forty-four percent of companies collect employee health data either monthly or continuously to assess program value; 72% collect data on satisfaction, 57% on retention, and 52% on productivity — linking insights to both quality and costs. Sixty-four percent of respondents indicated that they conduct formal evaluations of their health programs annually.

Mental health and emotional support are the main priorities for 51% of employers, followed by financial well-being and support programs, health and wellness education, flexibility and work-life balance, and caregiving benefits. Sixty-eight percent of companies report that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly or moderately influenced benefits program strategies.

Demographic differences arose in the survey results, as employees 30-45 years old had the highest satisfaction rates (88%). They were most interested in work-life balance (28%), financial well-being assistance (19%), and health education (18%). Those 46-55 and over 55 years old were most interested in preventive screenings and financial assistance. The youngest group (under 30 years) were most interested in work-life balance and flexibility, and fitness and wellness programs.

Adapting programming to new virtual and hybrid work arrangements poses additional hurdles, as 45% cited balancing remote work, 44% cited isolation/social interaction, and 33% cited managing burnout. Interviews indicate culture has been impacted by these workforce changes and employers have struggled with modifying initiatives to engage both on-site and remote employees.

IBI conducted interviews with experts in the field to reveal actionable insights that can be used as guidance for employers in strategizing around benefit design.

Recommendations for employers include:

  • Reevaluate existing policies and programs to ensure they map to overarching objectives around productivity, growth, efficiency and other metrics.
  • Be intentional around hybrid and remote work — assess which roles are best suited for fully remote, hybrid or in-office work based on business needs.
  • Focus on skills and talent development.
  • Emphasize outcomes over engagement — leverage data analytics to identify how offerings are impacting health metrics, absenteeism, retention and productivity.
  • Offer training and support for managers.
  • Link programs directly to company mission and culture.
  • Focus on clear communication and thoughtful change management.
  • Streamline point solutions, plan offerings and policies to reduce confusion.

Soaring Demand for Weight Loss Medications: Is a Drug Crisis on the Horizon?
By Ron Carter – RxBridge

Originally designed to address type 2 diabetes, glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists, or GLP-1 agonists, have garnered significant attention for their unexpected weight loss effects. These medications influence insulin and glucagon hormones in the pancreas, prompting increased insulin secretion, reduced sugar release by the liver, and delayed stomach emptying, subsequently curbing hunger. Common GLP-1 agonists, initially intended for type 2 diabetes management, include Ozempic, Victoza, Byetta, Trulicity, Mounjaro, Wegovy and Saxenda. The newest medication approved by the FDA is Zepbound, which is indicated for chronic weight management and exclusively marketed for weight loss. 

While GLP-1 medications have proven benefits for weight management and associated co-morbidities, currently there is no evidence indicating the medications directly relate to work-related injuries or illnesses. Furthermore, the monthly cost is more than $1,000. When dispensing, one must consider the downstream implications of covering a GLP-1 medication. 

First, since it’s a long-term medication, what duration is being covered? Second, if a GLP-1 medication is approved for a claim, it is also likely that any side effects would also need to be covered, adding to the cost of the injured employee’s long-term care. As the use of these medications continues to rise, the intersection of workers’ compensation and the financial implications of long-term medication use adds a layer of complexity to the ongoing discourse surrounding GLP-1 agonists.

RxBridge utilizes red flag warnings/notifications that require claims professionals to review GLP-1 agonists before dispensing, but we’re beginning to see GLP-1 medications approved despite these red flags. As the popularity of the medications continues to increase, claims professionals may be increasingly faced with coverage decisions. 

As the industry grapples with these complexities, we advise our clients to carefully assess the appropriateness of including GLP-1 medications in workers’ compensation coverage, keeping in mind the evolving nature of medical and coverage standards in this space. It’s important to have a plan to address this class of drugs and ensure claims professionals are aware of how to handle them going forward.

On Jan. 4, 2024, Eli Lilly launched a direct-to-consumer website, enabling customers to obtain third-party prescriptions for its medications, including the recently approved weight loss injectable Zepbound (comparable to Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy/Ozempic). Users can access a telehealth service through the website for prompt prescription issuance before making a purchase. 

Overall, there is a concerted effort to facilitate the swift and convenient accessibility of these medications to consumers. In the coming year, pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Amgen are anticipated to seek approval for their respective versions. Analysts project that the market for such drugs will expand to $100 billion by 2035. These medications are here to stay, so careful and enlightened thought must be given to whether or not they have a role in coverage decisions.

Texas News

Texas Department of Insurance
Information for Workers’ Compensation Non-subscribers 
Workers’ compensation is a state-regulated insurance system that ensures medical bills and some lost wages are paid for employees injured on the job. Click here for full article.
Employees Injured in Hotel Explosion
Three employees were among the more than 20 people injured Monday when a hotel exploded in Fort Worth. Click here for full article.

State News

Alabama Political Reporter
Medical Cannabis Association partners with the Healthcare Workers’ Compensation Fund
The Alabama Medical Cannabis Association announced a partnership with the Healthcare Workers’ Compensation Fund (HWCF) and Harmon Dennis Bradshaw. Click here for full article.

Business Insurance
Bill Would Require Employers to Inform Injured Workers of Rights to Attorney
California employers would have to post a notice that an injured worker has a right to an attorney under a bill introduced Monday. Click here for full article.

The Bottom Line News
Kentucky Businesses Continue to See Workers’ Compensation Savings
Many Kentucky employers are seeing another decrease in workers’ compensation costs as the most recent loss costs filing approved by the Kentucky Department of Insurance (DOI) went into effect on January 1, 2024. Click here for full article.

Missouri Lawmakers Pushing Back Against Adding Marijuana to Workers Compensation Law
Two proposals in the Missouri Legislature would add marijuana to Missouri’s workers’ compensation law, which outlines a drug-free workplace rule. Click here for full article.

State of New Jersey
Governor Murphy Signs Workers’ Compensation Bill for Certain First Responders
Governor Phil Murphy today signed A-5909/S-4267, which revises workers’ compensation coverage for certain injuries to certain volunteer and professional public safety and law enforcement personnel. Click here for full article.

NY Workers’ Comp Fund for Uber, Lyft Drivers can Charge Fees on Tips, Court Rules
A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday said a fund created by the state of New York to compensate black car drivers who are injured on the job did not break the law by imposing a fee on noncash tips given to drivers, nixing an $8.5 million award for a class that could include hundreds of thousands of passengers. Click here for full article.

JD Supra
Workers’ Compensation: Frequently Asked Questions from Non-Insured Employers
Workers’ compensation insurance coverage is required for all employers in North Carolina with limited exceptions. Click here for full article.

Crain’s Cleveland Business
Private Employers in Ohio Could Get 7% Reduction in Workers’ Comp Rates
Private employers in Ohio could be in line for another rate reduction in their workers’ compensation premiums. Click here for full article.

Business Insurance
PTSD Would be Compensable Injury for First Responders Under Bill 
Legislators in Oklahoma this week pre-filed legislation that would make line-of-duty mental injuries compensable for first responders. Click here for full article.
Employees Stabbed, Hammered in Separate Attacks
An employee of Temple University was attacked this week, one of several against employees across the country. Police in Philadelphia, Pa., said the employee was on their way to work around 7:15 a.m. on Jan. 16, when they were attacked by an unknown assailant. Click here for full article.

Business Insurance
Rhode Island Bill Would Expand ‘Employee’ Definition for Workers Comp
Rhode Island lawmakers have introduced legislation clarifying what types of workers would be considered employees for workers compensation purposes. Click here for full article.

Insurance Journal
Tennessee Chalks Another Drop in Workers’ Comp Loss Costs
Workers’ compensation loss costs in Tennessee will drop an average of 9.4% for the voluntary market starting March 1, marking the 11th straight decrease for the state. Click here for full article.

Business Insurance
Washington Comp Rate Equation Anomaly Results in Rate Hikes
Nearly every state announced reduced rates for workers compensation insurance for 2024, while Washington told employers to expect a 4.9% rate hike. Click here for full article.

General News

Facility Executive
NSC Expands Grant Programs To Solve The Most Common Workplace Injury 
The National Safety Council (NSC) will award up to an additional $260,000 this year through pioneering grant programs to help develop new safety solutions to prevent musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Click here for full article.

USA Facts
What is the Impact of Injuries and Illnesses on American Workers? 
Americans employed in private industry suffered more than 2.8 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Click here for full article.

WGN Radio
An Analysis of Worker’s Compensation for PTSD
Richard Johnson, a worker’s compensation attorney with Katz Friedman, joins Lisa Dent to talk about the case of a recreation director who was fired by the Park District of Highland Park while on leave for PTSD he experienced from the July 4th shooting, and why these cases are rare and different with each person. Click here for full article.

Insurance Business
Workers’ Comp 2024 Outlook: Long-stable Market Starting to Show ‘Cracks in the Armor’
Workers’ compensation has been marked by several years of profitability, fostering a competitive market with rate decreases and high capacity. Click here for full article.

The National Law Review
The Year Ahead 2024: Workplace Safety
Welcome to We get work™ and The Year Ahead 2024 podcast series. Covering workplace issues from both subject matter and industry perspectives, the 19 episodes in our series provide both big picture trends and detailed tactics that can help employers achieve their workplace ideal, while remaining real about regulations, compliance challenges, and more in 2024. Click here for full article.

America’s Never-Ending Struggle To Ensure Workplace Safety
Overall, the United States has made considerable strides in improving workplace safety over the last two decades. Click here for full article.
The WHAT: Actions in the First 30 Minutes of an Injury
The initial response to a workplace injury is crucial to setting the tone for recovery. How an organization reacts in these first 30 minutes can impact the injured employee’s perception of their value within the company and their overall recovery experience. Click here for full article.

PBS News Hour
As COVID Cases Rise, Doctors Worry About the Consequences of Misinformation 
Seeing COVID rates hit another high, and vaccine uptake remain low, doctors don’t have an antidote for something they see as an ongoing risk factor: the spread of misinformation, including on the presidential campaign trail. Click here for full article.

Scientific American
The Best Way to Use Home COVID Tests Right Now
This is Your Health, Quickly, a Scientific American podcast series! We bring you the latest vital health news: Discoveries that affect your body and your mind. Click here for full article.

Drug Topics
Paxlovid Found Not to Reduce Long COVID Risk
Vaccinated patients treated with nirmatrelvir-ritonavir (Paxlovid) who were not hospitalized did not show a lower prevalence of long COVID symptoms 90 days after infection, according to new research published in the Journal of Medical Virology. Click here for full article.

Scientific American
Vaccination Dramatically Lowers Long COVID Risk
At least 200 million people worldwide have struggled with long COVID: a slew of symptoms that can persist for months or even years after an infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID. But research suggests that that number would likely be much higher if not for vaccines. Click here for full article.

U.S. Food & Drug Administration 
At-Home OTC COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests
At-home over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 diagnostic tests can show if you have an active COVID-19 infection. Click here for full article.

The New York Times 
Paxlovid Cuts Covid Death Risk. But Those Who Need It Are Not Taking It.
With Covid deaths rising to about 1,500 per week, researchers question why Paxlovid use has remained low among high-risk patients. Click here for full article.

Hydroxychloroquine Could Vave Caused 17,000 Deaths During COVID, Study Finds
Nearly 17,000 people may have died after taking hydroxycholoroquine during the first wave of Covid-19, according to a study by French researchers. Click here for full article.

Scientific American
No, COVID mRNA Vaccines Won’t Damage Your DNA
On Wednesday Florida’s state surgeon general Joseph Ladapo called for stopping the use of messenger RNA–based COVID vaccines, citing—without convincing evidence—concerns about DNA fragments from the vaccines entering the human genome. Click here for full article.

Is It Dangerous to Keep Getting COVID-19?
Getting COVID-19 today is much less scary and more common than it was three years ago. By now, many people have had it not just once, but two, three, or even more times. Click here for full article.

U.S. News & World Report
Meat-Free Diet Could Cut Your Risk for COVID
Vegetarian diets have been tied to a variety of health benefits – lower blood pressure, better blood sugar control and weight loss among them. Now a new study suggests those benefits might even extend to a person’s ability to ward off COVID-19. Click here for full article.