Category Archives: Workers’ Compensation

Massive Workers’ Compensation-Referral Scheme

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office filed felony fraud charges against 10 attorneys and 6 others Monday in what prosecutors say is a massive workers’ compensation-referral scheme with more than 33,000 patients and an estimated $300 million-plus in insurance payouts received.workers' comp scheme law jail

DA Tony Rackauckas said the charges were the start of an investigation by his office and the California Department of Insurance, which scrutinizes the role medical providers played in an alleged fraud ring that targeted mostly Spanish-speaking communities.

“This type of fraud factory drives up the prices of workers’ compensation insurance and drives businesses out of California,” Rackauckas said Monday, June 5.

Prosecutors allege that at the center of the ring were businesses run by Carlos Arguello III, 35, of Tustin and Edgar Gonzalez, 50, of Anaheim.

In 2005, Arguello formed an advertising company, Centro Legal Internacional, which Rackauckas accused of setting up illegal contracts with 20 to 30 attorneys who focused on workers’ compensation and personal injury.

The attorneys allegedly agreed to contract with companies owned by Arguello and Gonzalez, in return for employees, known as cappers, delivering the attorneys a minimum number of clients per month.

Attorneys are allowed to advertise, the district attorney explained, but the use of cappers to directly recruit for lawyers or medical providers is against the law.

Prosecutors allege that the cappers distributed a variety of fliers and business cards in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods and at swap meets offering “free consultations” for those who believed they had suffered workplace injuries.

Read entire article: OC Register

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Filed under Crime, Workers' Compensation

California considering hotel housekeeper regulation

California’s state-run OSHA program has proposed a standard to prevent musculoskeletal injuries among hotel housekeepers. Read on to find out more about the effort and how long it’s been on the drawing board.

California osha housekeeping injury prevention

For years, advocates for hotel housekeepers have been pushing for a regulation to protect these workers, who are exposed to significant risks on the job. In January 2012, the union UNITE HERE filed a petition with the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) requesting the adoption of a standard to address a variety of hazards, including limiting the square footage that can be assigned to a worker during an eight-hour shift.

Read entire article at Safety.BLR

 

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Filed under Employee Practices, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Housekeeping, Injuries, OSHA, Risk Management, Workers' Compensation

Husband and wife cheated workers’ compensation

Tip: This is why it is important for hotels to request certificate of insurance from their vendors. 

 

Indicted for hiding the existence of 800 hotel workerslaw, justice

Hyok “Steven” Kwon and his wife, Woo Hui “Stephanie” Kwon, were sentenced to prison yesterday (March 15) for concocting and carrying out a complicated scheme to avoid paying workers’ compensation insurance premiums and employment taxes for their janitorial company, Irvine-based Good Neighbor Services. He was sentenced to eight years in custody and she got four years and eight months. Each has been ordered to pay $5 million restitution to insurance carriers and the California Employment Development Department.

They were indicted in December for hiding the existence of 800 hotel workers and thereby evading personnel-related taxes. At the time of the indictment, their caper was considered the largest insurance premium fraud in San Diego history.

Among the hotels serviced by the company were the Hotel Del Coronado, Grand Del Mar, La Costa Resort & Spa, Loews Coronado, and L’Auberge Del Mar.

See article at SanDiegoReader.com

 

 

 

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Filed under Hotel Industry, Injuries, Management And Ownership, Workers' Compensation

Keeping Your Employees Safe and Productive

Retaining talent is a universal business concern. It is especially important in the leisure and hospitality industry, which has the highest workforce turnover rate among private sector industries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.(1)

When employees become injured or seriously ill as a result of their job it can affect temporary or long-term staffing in the workplace. For reference, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that the hospitality and leisure industry experienced over 90,000 nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work in 2013 – fully ten percent of all recorded private industry incidents that year.(2)

When employees get injured on the job, not only are they unable to perform their duties, but business operations and employee morale can also be negatively impacted.

Work Injury reporting

An important step hotel managers can take to prevent and control work-related injuries or illnesses is to create a culture of safety in the workplace. This goes beyond taking precautions to prevent injuries from occurring, but also knowing how to respond quickly and appropriately in the event someone gets injured or becomes ill. It involves ensuring that employees receive the appropriate care they need to get well and also having plans in place to facilitate the employee’s transition back to work.

More on the article: http://bit.ly/2jAZqLt

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Filed under Employee Practices, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Human Resources, Uncategorized, Workers' Compensation

New OSHA 300 Reporting Rules

OSHA has updated the rule that pertains to the reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses. The new rule requires certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness data beginning in 2017. The goal of the rule is to encourage employers to better identify hazards, address safety issues, and prevent future injuries and illnesses.

Work Injury reporting

New Electronic Recordkeeping Requirements

Employers with 20-249 employees in certain industries must electronically submit their Form OSHA 300A information for the year 2016 by July 1, 2017. Hotels (except Casino Hotels) and Motels, NAICS code 7211, are included in the “certain industries” listing.

  • These same employers must electronically submit their Form OSHA 300A information for 2017 by July 1, 2018.
  • Beginning in 2019, and every year thereafter, these employers must submit the Form OSHA information by March 2, 2019.

OSHA State Plan Alignment

OSHA State Plan states must adopt and enforce these requirements (or substantially identical requirements) within 6 months after the publication of the final rule.

New Whistleblower Protection

Prohibits employers from retaliation against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses. (Effective November 1, 2016)


 

REMEMBER

If an OSHA inspection occurs and your organization is required to keep an OSHA 300 log, you will need to present a copy during the inspection or within 4 hours of OSHA’s request for the log.


 

This information is available on the OSHA website.

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Filed under Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Hotel Restaurant, Injuries, OSHA, Training, Workers' Compensation

Keeping Hotel Housekeepers Safe

A hotel housekeeper’s duties can be grueling and intense – and can result in serious injuries.

Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2013 shows that hotel and motel workers had a nonfatal injury and illness rate of 5.4. The rate for all industries was 3.5.

“As more amenities continue to be offered in hotel rooms, housekeepers often are having to work even harder and more quickly,” said Gary Allread, program director of the Institute for Ergonomics at Ohio State University in Columbus.

Housekeeping

Advocates are calling for stronger protections and better ergonomics training for hotel housekeeping workers.

More work, more hazards

In 2012, hospitality workers union UNITE HERE sent a petition to the California Department of Industrial Relations’ Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board. The petition called for a standard to protect hospitality workers as hotels compete to offer more luxurious settings for their guests. Upgraded mattresses can weigh more than 100 pounds, UNITE HERE claims, and bath linen is larger and heavier – putting housekeeping workers at risk of overexertion. More amenities, such as larger mirrors and TVs, have to be cleaned.

“What you’re seeing now when you go into the hotel room, it’s not just two pillows on a bed, it’s four or five,” said Lorne Scarlett, industry specialist with the Workers’ Compensation Board of British Columbia, also known as WorkSafe BC. “That process they go through stuffing a pillow, they’re doing that four to five times per bed. The cleanliness of the room is scrutinized by the larger, luxury hotels. They’re not just doing a light dust. They’re doing a very determined clean each time.”

According to Ohio State University, other injury risk factors are:

  • “Forceful exertions,” including pushing heavy carts and using vacuum cleaners
  • Awkward postures while cleaning bathrooms and other areas
  • Repetitive motions, such as cleaning mirrors and changing pillowcases Maintaining postures for long periods
  • Little rest

“The good thing is we can reduce those risks through just plain, out-front awareness and education,” Scarlett said.

For more info: ( http://bit.ly/2949lUp )

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Filed under Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Injuries, Risk Management, Training, Workers' Compensation

New Robotic Exoskeleton Technology is Here From Panasonic

Mobility may be one of the most important elements in maintaining personal autonomy. And now, thanks to the incredible technology behind robotic exoskeletons, the elderly, the injured, and many others can experience mobility like never before. In a new video, Panasonic unveils its latest achievements in the robotics field, applying advanced control and sensor technologies to create a motor-equipped robot that will assist with human body mechanics.

Panasonic has developed a pair of suits — one meant primarily for industrial purposes, and another to help the disabled. The power assist suits will help users perform manual labor and potentially dangerous tasks in a range of worksites, and Hiromichi Fujimoto, president of Activelink Co. (one of Panasonic’s in-house venture companies) noted, “We are proposing robotics to help at these worksites, because there will always be a certain level of work that must be done by people, and these power assist suits can help reduce the physical strain during such work.”

To help with lifting and carrying heavy loads, Panasonic has introduced the AWN-03, an assist suit designed specifically to provide lower back support. By sensing the wearer’s motion when lifting or holding heavy objects, the suit sends a signal to its motors to jump into action. By raising the user’s upper body while simultaneously pushing on their thighs, the suit promises to reduce stress on the lower back by 15 kg.

Panasonic

There are also two additional suits that could be used in industrial settings — the PLN-01 (the “Ninja”) is meant to help the user’s motion while walking and running, whereas the Power Loader is heralded as a powerful suit perfect for use during disaster relief, construction, and public works.

On the other end of the spectrum, Panasonic has unveiled suits meant for the elderly. “As Japan has becomes an aging society, Panasonic is aspiring to make its contribution by supporting the elderly and their families lead a comfortable life full of smiling faces and laughter” explained Hitoshi Sasaki, assistant director of Sincere Kourien, an elderly care facility run by Panasonic Age-Free. “There are many instances that can be straining to both caregivers and care recipients. Just moving from the bed to a wheelchair can be a very energy consuming for both parties.”

For more: http://bit.ly/1UGTjAW

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Filed under Claims, Employee Practices, Health, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Injuries, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Technology, Workers' Compensation

Workers Compensation Best Practices: What You Should Be Doing

Workers Compensation

Effective cost management of workers compensation claims starts at the time of the injury. Otherwise, studies confirm that the longer it takes to report a claim, the higher the cost.

 

“What happens in the first 24 hours post-injury is critical,” said Michael Bell, executive vice president for U.S. business development with Gallagher Bassett. Industry experts agree that successful management of these expenses must be comprehensive from start to finish, from the time of the injury through recovery and eventual return to work.

Bell estimates that 30% of all injured workers require medical guidance instead of medical care. This means that 30% can be resolved with self-treatment and that a claim doesn’t have to be filed. It eliminates a costly visit to the emergency room, where expenses can quickly climb to $1,000 or more.

The top priority — helping the employee recover and return to work — is best addressed by prompt treatment and proper guidance to direct the patient to the right source of care. For example, if someone is suffering from complex pain issues, a general practitioner may not be the best option for a claim that is not going to end with a simple outcome.

An injury is frequently a new experience for many employees who are looking for guidance. Where that guidance comes from, whether on the employer’s side or the claims handling side, makes a difference. A recommended best practice, Bell said, is a nurse triage process. Nurses will record initial interviews at the site of the accident, a critical time when facts can be clarified and confirmed. A worker will be much more honest in sharing information with a nurse than with a claims professional. A triage nurse also determines whether treatment is even necessary and then guides the patient to the appropriate medical provider.

For more: http://bit.ly/1mQNvXM

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Filed under Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Insurance, Management And Ownership, Workers' Compensation

Hotel Housekeeping Firm Accused of Insurance and Tax Fraud

housekeeping

The owners of an Irvine-based company that provides housekeeping services for luxury resorts and major hotel chains in Southern California have been indicted in what prosecutors call a $7 million insurance and tax fraud scheme, the San Diego County district attorney’s office announced Monday.

Prosecutors alleged in a news release that Hyok “Steven” Kwon and Woo “Stephanie” Kwon hid the existence of about 800 employees for almost a decade through a “methodical and systematic shell game involving six straw owners.”

The scheme enabled the Kwons to avoid paying more than $3.6 million in housekeeping workers’ compensation insurance premiums and more than $3.3 million in payroll taxes, prosecutors said.

 

The Kwons’ company, Good Neighbor Services, has high-profile clients in San Diego, Los Angeles and Riverside counties, including the Hotel del Coronado and hotel chains such as Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Hilton and Hyatt, according to prosecutors.

“These defendants lied on the backs of their employees who were cleaning rooms in some of the most prestigious hotels in California,” San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said in a statement. “If employees got hurt on the job, they were threatened with being fired.”

Prosecutors allege that housekeeping and other employees at Good Neighbor Services were not paid overtime and not granted workers’ compensation benefits if they were hurt on the job.

One worker whom investigators interviewed said she had to repeatedly ask for medical attention when she was hurt, and when the Kwons did send her to a doctor, it was a dentist, not a physician, according to the district attorney’s office.

For more: http://lat.ms/1Pjd5Ld

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Filed under Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Insurance, Workers' Compensation

Hospitality Industry Conference Update: “Northern California Hotel & Lodging Conference”

CH&LA and AAHOA have once again partnered to present the annual Northern California Hotel & Lodging Conference.  This year the event is moving back to the DoubleTree San Jose.  Each year this event gathers together over 300 hoteliers who enjoynorcal-button-highres the free educational seminars, updates on industry topics and to attend the trade show.

The show will include the usual abundance of networking opportunities, general session luncheon, and of course the trade show, the largest of its kind in Northern California.  Over 100 vendors will be eager to show off the latest industry products, many who offer special rates and discounts for this conference.  There will also be a reception in the trade show at 4:00 pm, with appetizers, soft drinks, no-host bar and lots of networking.

For more: http://bit.ly/1zkW1gW

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Filed under Conferences, Employee Practices, Hotel Industry, Insurance, Liability, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Social Media, Technology, Training, Workers' Compensation