Recent reports by OSHA and NPR/ProPublica (see my post, “Workers’ Comp Besieged: Independent Views of the Problems Workers’ Comp is Facing“) have exposed the ugly truth about the workers’ comp system that some in the industry a) have known about for years, b) did not want to hear and criticized the reports for their inaccuracies and failures, or c) took this as a wake-up call to do better in the future.
While it is true that the majority of claims ( let us use the 80/20 rule as an example) are handled properly, the 20% that are not handled properly are of great concern to a great number of people, especially the injured workers themselves who bear the brunt of bad medicine, bad lawyers, bad employers and bad claims and risk management personnel.
But the real heart of the problem is not the system we created nearly a hundred years ago to protect the health of workers, but with the ideology that underpins the entire American capitalist system, and that now is experiencing a recrudescence in our political process and in the business culture of the 21st century.
What I am referring to is the value system (or meme) that many large and small employers have that says that the health and safety of the worker is not as important as the right of the owner to make as much money as they can, no matter what happens to the worker. And at the heart of that meme is the drive to maximize shareholder value or to improve the bottom-line, at any cost.
This meme harks back the beginning of the industrial revolution, and there is no greater example of the disdain some employers, especially small or mid-size employers have towards their workers, that can be found in an article today on Workers’ Comp Insights.com.
The article, by Dave Battinieri, “OSHA Tags KS Aluminum Foundry with 31 Serious Violations” reported that workers were exposed to chlorine gas while forging aluminum blocks at a foundry in Prescott, KS, mainly because they were never trained on how to handle or store the gas.
A complaint was filed in September 2014 that prompted an OSHA inspection. Upon inspection investigators found confined space hazards at Custom Alloy Sales 34P LLC.
In their inspection, OSHA found 31 serious violations and proposed penalties of $160,200. The workers were never trained on how to handle dangerous chemicals being used around the foundry, and they were not protected from various machine parts. Also, there were also forklifts in use that had defects as well.
The employer, Custom Alloy has contested the violations and fines and now the case may go before an Independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Committee.
So the problem is not only with the state statutes, or with lawyers, or with medical providers, or even service providers such as third party claims administrators, etc.
The problem is with the employer who thinks because he’s a capitalist or because he is in business, that no one has a right to tell him how to run his business or what safety protocols to follow. And while it is true that much of the work environment has gotten safer as better technology has replaced the old ways of manufacturing products, this example shows that there are still companies that are run by outdated 19th century value systems.
The challenge for all of us is not just to improve the workers’ comp system, but to change the business culture so that businesses like Custom Alloy do not put workers into harm’s way. And that a certain political party who will remain nameless, but not blameless for taking the country back more than a hundred and fifty years, does not get the chance through legislation or through their friends in big and small business, to turn the clock back to the 19th century.
I am willing to work with any broker, carrier, or employer who is sick and tired of being bled by the Wall Street vulture capitalists and the entire medico-legal system known as workers’ comp, to save money, and to provide the best care for their injured workers or their client’s employees, while at the same time, helping to break the monopoly of the American health care cartel.
Call me for more information, next steps, or connection strategies at (561) 738-0458 or (561) 603-1685, cell. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Ask me any questions you may have on how to save money on expensive surgeries under workers’ comp. Connect with me on LinkedIn and follow my blog at: richardkrasner.wordpress.com. Share this article, or leave a comment below.