The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reminded employers that they needed to electronically submit their 2017 injury and illness report by July 1, 2018 and announced that submissions after that date will be flagged as "Late".
If the past is any indication of future intention, watch out. In February of this year, OSHA instructed its compliance officers to initiate inquiries into whether workplaces had electronically filed their 300A forms for 2016. If not, the compliance officer could issue an other-than-serious citation, which comes with a penalty as high as $12,934. OSHA has six-months from 7/1/18 to issue citations for 2017.
Don't forget – this doesn't apply to all employers. It applies to employers with 250 or more employees that are currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records and employers with 20-249 employees that are classified in certain industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illness.
OSHA is seeking to stem a recent increase in workplace fatalities in Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. It issued a release highlighting the increase in fatalities associated with falls, struck-by objects and vehicles, machine hazards, grain bin engulfment, and burns. OSHA investigated 34 fatalities in these three states since Oct. 1, 2017.
Don't get comfortable with a July submission. Starting in 2019 and every year thereafter, covered employers must submit the information by March 2. On a different note, OSHA announced a delay in enforcing certain requirements of the final rule on occupational exposure to beryllium in general industry to Aug. 9, 2018. These requirements include beryllium work areas, regulated work areas, methods of compliance, personal protective clothing and equipment, hygiene areas and practices, housekeeping, communication of hazards, and recordkeeping. Whew.
They're More Like Guidelines
Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled opioid prescribing guidelines for workers' compensation to help health care providers determine when opioids are appropriate for the treatment of an injured worker. In 2017, there were more than 17,000 workers' compensation claims in Pennsylvania, and it ranks third highest in the nation in the percentage of injured workers who become long-term opioid users. However, none of the recommendations are legally binding on physicians or medical facilities. In the spring, Gov. Wolf vetoed a bill that would have created a workers' compensation formulary.
On Monday, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) website for the National Guideline Clearinghouse, which provides access to guidelines for practicing medicine, was no longer available to its users – mostly doctors – due to a lack of funding. Originally created in 1998, the website received about 200,000 visits each month. However, on Tuesday, ECRI Institutes announced it will continue to maintain a version of the clearinghouse. ECRI's interim site will go up in the fall, but a spokeswoman said it will likely have to charge a fee for the service.
Making Our Way Around the Country
The Industrial Commission of Arizona issued information and suggested best practices for full and final settlements submitted on or after Aug. 3, 2018. Prior to Oct. 31, 2017, a claimant could reopen a claim at any time if additional medical treatment was needed so a claim could never fully close. But last year, state lawmakers passed S.B. 1332, which allows an approved settlement agreement to close all future medical claims indefinitely. Moving across to the Hoosier state, the Indiana Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) will have a new procedure for submitting settlement documents effective Aug. 1, 2018. All settlement agreements, proposed orders, and supporting documentation should be electronically submitted to the Board via email. WCB also provided a checklist of elements that should be in the settlement agreement as well as the proper supporting documentation.
The Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Commission (WCC) issued an alert to announce it adopted the emergency rules and forms that allow business owners to exempt themselves from workers' compensation coverage. Business owners will need to complete an Affidavit of Exempt Status (no longer the Certificate of Noncoverage). The forms will become effective Aug. 2, 2018, and the rules will become effective upon approval by Gov. Mary Fallin.
Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill that creates a firefighter cancer presumption and will allow cancer treatment benefits to be funded through workers' compensation. It comes 28 years after a law establishing a presumptive cancer law for firefighters was ruled unconstitutional because it lacked a way to fund it. The bill creates a presumption for full-time firefighters who meet certain criteria that cancer is compensable under workers' compensation. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, firefighters have a nine percent higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and 14 percent higher risk of dying from cancer than the general population.
Congrats to France on winning the 2018 FIFA World Cup and to Croatia for a great run. President Macron's excitement in the press box exuded the passion of soccer (aka. football) fans around the world. If you missed the 2018 MLB All-Star Game last night, you missed a record 10 home runs hit, and the American League prevailed 8-6 in 10 innings for its sixth consecutive All-Star Game win. To the American League - congrats! To the National League - let's step it up.