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Beware: Worker’s Comp Fraud

Bookmark and Share Everything is not "coming up roses" for a California gardener charged with Workers Compensation fraud and perjury.

Jose Cortez earned his living as a gardener until October 2010, when a large tree branch fell and landed on him during his shift. He was transported to a local hospital and sent home with "minor work restrictions.

Although Cortez filed for Workers Comp, claiming that the injuries sustained that day prevented him from completing his customary work duties, not everyone was convinced. The following year, a tip aroused enough suspicion for his insurance company to initiate video surveillance, which revealed that Cortez was carrying on as if it were business as usual.

In September 2012, investigators from the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office Workers' Compensation Insurance Fraud Unit conducted a criminal investigation, collecting surveillance footage of Cortez, who was still collecting under his claim. On January 21, 2013, prosecutors filed criminal charges against Cortez, resulting in a felony arrest warrant being issued. If convicted, he could enter a system far different from Workers Comp - state prison, where he could serve as many as eight years. "This type of fraud is harmful because it causes premiums that businesses have to pay to go higher," says Deputy Assistant District Attorney Scott Byrd. "It drains business profits, which in turn costs honest workers money in raises or other benefits that they may have been eligible to receive." A word to the wise.

11 Ways Employees Can Manage Stress

Bookmark and Share You can't eliminate the stress that your employees bring to work - but you can offer them these guidelines to help manage workplace stressors on their own:
  1. Prioritize, streamline, delegate, and discard. When facing a task, ask if it's really necessary to do immediately.
  2. Break things up. Take two - to three - minute breaks every hour and commit to doing at least one fun thing every day.
  3. Make time. Build time into your schedule for creative expression, healthy eating, moderate daily exercise, hanging out with friends, and enjoying nature.
  4. Be on time. Build in cushion time between appointments to allow for traffic and the unexpected.
  5. Send negativity flying. If a co-worker is on the warpath, visualize an airplane with an ad banner over the person's head, with each negative word floating up into the banner and out of view.
  6. Relax and watch what happens. Do mini-meditations or mindful breathing while you're between tasks or in line at the cafeteria.
  7. Get essential nutrients. Go beyond vitamins and begin to think about daylight and laughter as integral parts of your daily life.
  8. Consider what you're consuming. Sugar, caffeine, and alcohol can increase stress levels.
  9. Watch your words. Don't let negative internal chatter and self-recrimination distract and demoralize you.
  10. Be kind. Do something nice for a different co-worker every day until it becomes second nature to reduce stress for others.
  11. Sleep on it. Sleep deprivation a major culprit in stress is Try to get restful, restorative slumber every night, and watch your stress level decline.

Save Big on Workers Comp, Limit Slips and Falls!

Bookmark and Share The bad news: slips, trips, and falls are one of the nation's leading causes of workplace injuries. The good news: working with safety professionals can help prevent these accidents - and keep your Workers Compensation costs under control.

Falls on the same level (in which workers slip and fall on the surface on which they're standing) cost Workers Comp insurance companies a hefty $8.61 billion in 2010, accounting for 16.9% of their total claims. That's the word from Wayne Maynard, Manager of Technical Services and Product Development for the Loss Control Advisory Services unit of Liberty Mutual, the largest Comp carrier in the nation.

According to the Liberty Mutual 2012 Workplace Safety Index, "bodily reaction" injuries - which includes those caused by slipping or tripping without falling - represented $5.78 billion of Comp costs in 2010, or 11.4% of the overall burden,. Falls to a lower level in that year accounted for another $5.12 billion, or 10% of claims.

These costs are rising, due in part to an aging workforce (older worker tend to have more balance problems). Falls on the same level increased 42.3% from 1998 to 2010, while bodily reaction injuries increased 17.6% during this period.

You can help reduce the frequency of slips, trips, and falls by taking such ergonomic enhancements in the workplace as 1) adding slip-resistant flooring; 2) eliminating raised surfaces that might cause tripping; and 3) installing handrails on stairs. Also make sure that your employees take immediate steps to clean up spills that could create slippery floors.

Our agency's professionals would be happy to provide a complimentary "slip, trip, and fall" safety review of your premises - just give us a call.

Keeping the Aging Workforce Safe

Bookmark and Share Nearly one of four people aged 64 to 75 are still at work - and the number is skyrocketing, with more Baby Boomers who reach retirement age staying in the workplace. The good news: Older workers have a lower injury rate. The bad news: Their injuries tend to be more serious and require more time away from work.

Senior workers have specific safety issues. Their retention is often shorter, they're more easily distracted, have slower reaction time, declining vision and hearing, and a poorer sense of balance. These physical limitations lead to specific types of injuries for older workers, ranging from falls to accumulated injuries after years of doing the same task What's more, they sometimes deny their deteriorating abilities, which can lead to them to trying to work past their new limits.

Indicators that older workers might need accommodations can be physical (fatigue or tripping), psychological/emotional (loss of patience or irritability), numbers and patterns of sick days, or more frequent minor injuries or near misses.

You can help protect your senior workers by:
  • Finding ways for them to work smarter, not harder
  • Decreasing activities that require exertion, such as working in heat or cold or climbing ladders
  • Adjusting work areas with better lighting, reduced noise, fewer obstacles, and less need to bend or stoop
  • Redefining standards of productivity
  • Learning the limitations of older workers, perhaps by conducting annual hearing or vision tests
Make sure that safety culture becomes an institutional value for all employees. For example, when on-the-job feedback indicates that an older worker is having trouble, don't fire the person. This will discourage honest input from employees who might feel responsible for their co-worker's loss of employment.

For more information on making your workplace safer for older employees, feel free to get in touch with us.