Things you should know

Fatal work injuries reach highest level since 2008

Workplace fatalities increased for the third year in a row in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, rising to 5,190, a 7% increase from the 4,836 fatal injuries reported in 2015. Double-digit increases were reported in workplace violence and overdose fatalities.

Work injuries involving transportation incidents remained the most common fatal event in 2016, accounting for 2,083 fatalities, or 40% of the overall total. But violence and other injuries by persons or animals increased 23% to 866 cases, becoming the second-most common fatal event in 2016. Fatal work injuries from slips, trips and falls were the third-most common fatal event last year.

Texas was the state with the highest number of worker deaths (545), followed by California (376), Florida (309) and New York (272). In all, 36 states experienced increases in deaths due to workplace injuries in 2016.

Operation Airbrake puts 2,700 CMVs out of service for brake-related violations

An unannounced inspection blitz of commercial motor vehicles resulted in 14 percent being placed out of service for brake-related violations, according to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. On Brake Safety Day, which took place Sept. 7, CVSA inspectors checked 7,698 trucks and buses in the United States and Canada. The inspections resulted in 1,064 vehicles being taken out of service for brake violations and 1,680 (22 percent) for other infractions.

New video for tower workers: Safe use of snow-tracked vehicles

A new video highlights the proper operation of snow-tracked vehicles when accessing remote tower locations.

NIOSH withdraws proposed rule on respirator leakage standards

NIOSH has withdrawn a notice of proposed rulemaking that would have established standards for total inward leakage of half-mask air-purifying particulate respirators. According to NIOSH, the public comment period produced enough evidence to convince the agency to rescind the notice.



State News


  • A new law lowering the corporate officers’ ownership threshold for opting out of work comp coverage to 10%, from a current 15%, will be effective July 1.
  • The closed drug formulary for workers’ compensation will be updated quarterly by a committee of three doctors and three pharmacists who will meet several times a year, according to the Division of Workers Compensation.
  • The Department of Industrial Relations announced 376 workers died on the job in 2016, down slightly from 388 deaths in 2015 but still higher than the most recent low of 344 in 2014.


  • The Office of Judges of Compensation Claims reported that claimants’ attorney fees increased 36% in the latest fiscal year, following the state Supreme Court’s April 2016 decision in Castellanos v. Next Door Co., which reinstated hourly fees for claimants’ attorneys.


  • Medical payments per workers compensation claim were 24% higher than the median for other states examined in a new study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI).


  • In 2016, there were 74 fatal work-related injuries according to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), 50% of which were transportation incidents.


  • Workers’ compensation medical payments are among the lowest in the country, according to a WCRI study medical payments per claim, limited to 2.2% per year, due in part to lower prices paid for professional services as well as lower payments per service for hospital outpatient services.


  • The Department of Insurance is recommending a 3% decrease in workers’ compensation insurance loss costs for 2018, on top of a 4% decrease that took effect on Aug. 1.


  • Minnesota experienced 92 workplace fatalities in 2016, a 24.3% increase over the prior year and 48.3% above the 2015 rate. Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting accounted for the most deaths, followed by construction.
  • The Workers’ Compensation Assigned Risk Plan has issued a notice regarding rates for new and renewal policies, effective Jan. 1 through March 31. Because certain classification codes have been eliminated and two new classification codes created, MWCARP is publishing new rate pages, effective Jan. 1. The eliminated classification codes are 1655, 1853, 3175, 3223, 4053, 4061, 4101, 6017, 7228, 7229 and 9149.The new classification codes are 7219 and 7225.


  • Workers die on the job at a rate double that of the national average, according to the National Employment Law Project. The national average is 3.4 deaths per 100,000 workers, while Mississippi’s rate is 6.8, the fourth highest number in the country for 2015, behind North Dakota’s more than 12, Wyoming’s 10 and Montana’s 7.5. The leading fatal work injuries by occupation were 35% for transportation/material moving and 17% for construction/extraction.

New York

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation that will require workers’ compensation insurers to notify policyholders 30 days before hiking their renewal premiums by more than 10%.
  • The medical share of total workers’ compensation benefit costs dropped to 37% in 2015 and 2016 from a high of 42% in 2007, while the national average is 51.4%, according to a report by the New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board.

North Carolina

  • Medical payments per workers compensation claim decreased 6% per year from 2013 through 2015, according to the WCRI, likely due to fee schedule rules.
  • The Industrial Commission reminds stakeholders of a new employee misclassification statute that went into effect Dec. 31.


  • Acting Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman has approved an emergency loss cost increase of 6.06%, effective Feb. 1, in response to the state Supreme Court’s Protz decision.


For Cutting-Edge Strategies on Managing Risks and Slashing Insurance Costs visit

How to avoid a spike in slip and fall claims during harsh winters

Ice and snow-related slip and fall workers’ comp claims nearly doubled and represented one-third of claims involving time away from work last year in the Midwest area, which had a particularly harsh winter. In five Midwest states, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota, and Illinois winter-related slips and falls claims averaged 29% of all workers’ comp claims, according to Michigan-based Accident Fund Insurance Co. of America and New Berlin, Wisconsin-based United Heartland Inc.

Slips and falls can result in serious injuries such as fractures, dislocations, head injuries and so on, and are among the most expensive to resolve. While these accidents may not be completely avoidable, here are seven things employers can do to minimize the risk:

  1. Communicate with employees about the hazards of ice, snow and slippery weather. The Accident Fund suggests advising employees to:
    • Walk slowly and deliberately
    • Wear boots or slip-resistant footwear
    • Be prepared for black ice formation after melting occurs
    • Exercise caution when getting in and out of vehicles
    • Watch for slippery floors when entering buildings
    • Keep hands empty and arms free to move for stabilization – use backpacks if possible
  2. Solicit employee feedback to find out where the problem areas are and fix them
  3. Ensure that parking lots are well maintained and well lit. Review the routes from designated parking areas to determine if there are weather-related hazards that can be mitigated
  4. Give priority to employee parking areas when plowing and salting. Be sure that responsibilities, including timing and frequency, for snow removal are clearly defined. Even if the company contracts with another company for the removal of snow and ice, have salt or ice-melting chemicals, shovels, and/or other snow removing equipment on hand in the event of an emergency
  5. Make it easy for employees to don, doff and store winter apparel (particularly winter footwear)
  6. Inspect entryways, hallways, and steps that can become hazards when it is rainy or snowing. Keep floor cleaning equipment on hand to clean up liquid spills, condensation, and material spills to help prevent slips and falls
  7. Investigate and know exactly where the incident occurred and determine who exercises control over the area. Subrogation or the “coming and going” rule may come into play regarding compensability.

For Cutting-Edge Strategies on slashing Workers’ Compensation Costs visit


Author | Speaker | Certified Risk Manager | Certified Work Comp Advisor