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Employee Drug Use Reaches 12-year High

The positive drug test rate for the U.S. workforce was 4.2 percent in 2016, according to the Drug Testing Index (DTI) released by Quest Diagnostics. This represents a 5 percent increase over the positive rate in 2015, and the largest single-year positive rate since 2004.

The DTI analyzed over 10 million workforce drug test results from 2016 and categorized employees into three categories, including employees with federally mandated drug tests, the general workforce and the combined U.S. workforce. Here are additional details about the DTI’s findings for specific drug types:

Marijuana—The positive test rate for marijuana increased nearly 75 percent in oral fluid testing, which is used in the general workforce. Federally mandated marijuana tests only utilize urine tests, and the positive test rate increased 10 percent in 2016.
Cocaine—Positive test rates for cocaine in post-accident drug tests were more than twice as high as pre-employment screenings.
Amphetamines—Positive test rates for amphetamines have risen 64 percent between 2012 and 2016 for the general workforce. Quest Diagnostics attributes this increase to the prevalence of prescription drugs, including Adderall.

In order to create a safe, productive workplace, you need to watch out for potential drug use at your business. Call us today at (916) 380-5300, and ask to see our Drug-free Workplace Policy.

Filed under: Safety,Workers' Compensation — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 4:27 pm June 7, 2017

Reporting First Aid Requirements Effective January 1, 2017

Effective Jan. 1, 2017, all insured employers within the state of California must report all claims to their carrier or Third Party Administrator for which medical treatment costs are incurred. This includes reporting of first aid claims.

On Oct. 14, 2016, the California Insurance Commissioner approved the regulatory filing by the Workers’ Compensation Rating Bureau of California (WCIRB). Among the amendments to the California Workers’ Compensation Uniform Statistical Reporting Plan-1995 (USRP) effective Jan. 1, 2017, is clarification of the requirement to report first aid claims and the amount paid to the medical provider for such treatment, regardless of whether an employer or the insurer pays the cost of medical treatment.

Every physician treating an injured employee must send copies of the Doctor’s First Report of Occupational Injury or Illness to the Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier within five days of the initial examination.

What is a first aid claim?

California Labor Code Section 5401 defines “first aid” as “any one-time treatment, and any follow-up visit for the purpose of observation of minor scratches, cuts, burns, splinters and so forth, which do not ordinarily require medical care. Such one-time treatment and follow-up visit for the purpose of observation is considered first aid even though provided by a physician or registered professional personnel.”

An employer is not required to record a “first aid” claim on their OSHA 300 log.

Please refer to page 3 of the OSHA 300 booklet for additional first aid descriptions.

Our recommendations

As your insurance broker, the Warren G. Bender Co. recommends that employers report all claims, including “first aid”, in which a physician or other professional medical provider provides medical treatment, to their carrier or Third Party Administrator within the 5-day reporting requirement. Since all paid medical costs must now also be reported to the carrier (who will report them to the WCIRB), we are recommending that the carrier or Third Party Administrator also pay these medical bills. They will utilize the California Official Medical Fee Schedule that may result in reduced medical costs.

We encourage you to prevent injuries with a safety plan that focuses on reducing your work place hazards and to ensure compliance with your Injury and Illness Prevention Plan (IIPP).

We further encourage you to mitigate and manage all claims with a Return To Work program that accommodates any work restrictions during recovery. By maintaining a collaborative relationship with your designated medical provider, your claims administrator, and most importantly, with your injured employee, you can mitigate risk and cost of your Workers’ Compensation program.

Impact of this change on costs and X-Mod rating

If you have previously paid your “first aid” claims directly to the medical clinic, these costs must now be reported to the carrier and will impact your future Experience Modifier.

The WCIRB Bulletin No. 2016-25, dated Nov. 10, 2016, summarizes these changes.

Penalties for non-compliance

Any employer or physician who fails to comply with the submission of the Doctor’s First Report for first aid claims may be assessed a civil penalty of not less than $50 nor more than $200 by the director if a pattern or practice of violations or a willful violation is found.

An insurer that fails to report first aid claims may be in violation of California Insurance Code Section 11755, which prohibits willful withholding information from or knowingly giving false or misleading information to the commissioner or to any rating organization, which will affect the rates, rating systems or premiums for Workers’ Compensation insurance.

For more information, please contact Warren G. Bender Co. at (916) 380-5300.

Filed under: Recent Headlines,Workers' Compensation — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 9:44 pm January 3, 2017

Despite Higher Costs, Workers’ Comp Benefits Fall to a Historic Low

A new study released by the National Association of Social Insurance (NASI) shows that the cost of workers’ compensation benefits continues to fall, despite the fact that employer costs continue to rise.

According to the study, workers’ comp benefits per $100 of payroll fell from $0.97 in 2013 to $0.91 in 2014, making it the lowest level it’s been since 1980. However, employer costs associated with workers’ comp—things like insurance premiums, reimbursement payments and administrative costs—have steadily increased over the past five years. According to the report, employer costs exceeded total benefits by $29.5 billion in 2014, and costs per $100 of payroll reached $1.35.

Experts suggest that the reason for the disparity stems from the recession of 2008. As employers have begun hiring more employees during the economic recovery of the past five years, workers’ comp costs spiked immediately. The cost savings associated with a low benefit payout may take some time to be reflected in lower employer costs.

Filed under: Workers' Compensation — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 10:20 pm December 22, 2016

Combining Wellness & Risk Management

Combine your workplace wellness program with your risk management and safety program and you could see big savings on your workers’ compensation costs.

Workers’ compensation is one of a business’ largest operational expenses—and costs are on the rise. According to the Insurance Information Institute, medical costs will account for up to 67 percent of total costs of workers’ compensation claims by 2019. (more…)

Filed under: Health,Workers' Compensation — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 5:16 pm July 28, 2016

California Supreme Court Rules On-call and Sleep Periods Considered “Hours Worked”

“Hours worked” under California law includes all hours an employee is under an employer’s control, even when the employee is not actively engaged in carrying out job duties.

On Jan. 8, 2015, in Mendiola v. CPS Security Solutions, Inc., the California Supreme Court reaffirmed that “hours worked” under California law include all hours an employee is under an employer’s control, even when the employee is not actively engaged in carrying out job duties. The Supreme Court held that sleep periods during which an employee is on-call cannot be excluded from hours worked by an agreement between employers and their employees.

Filed under: Workers' Compensation — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 6:47 pm February 23, 2015