Officials haven’t explained yet how the medical records for up to 1800 people wound up in a dumpster in Houston. Somehow they were thrown out from an office of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Records apparently contained patient names, conditions, even bank account information. Here’s a full rundown on the story from Houston’s KPRC-TV.
While this is an extreme case, many companies have their own problems managing the medical records of their employees. Privacy and record security fall under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and fines for HIPAA violations range from $100 to $50,000 per violation (or per record) with a cap of $1.5 million. Even though the law has real teeth, company handling of medical information can be pretty sloppy. Continue reading “Nothing Says “OOPS” Like A Dumpster Full Of Medical Records”
It always generates headlines when a company is hit with a big OSHA fine, but we rarely hear about all of the cases when OSHA investigates and determines there was no safety violation. Here’s one recent case that offers important lessons to safety professionals.
On March 22, AK Steel in Middletown, Ohio received a letter from OSHA saying the agency had received complaints of a number of safety violations, including “welders have no certification to weld or pressure pipes, structures, railings, etc.” and “no welding logs are being kept for certifications purposes,” according to the local Journal News. The letter gave the company one week to respond. Continue reading “When OSHA Calls: Why Recordkeeping Is So Important”
OSHA has delayed the actual electronic reporting requirements of its injury and illness reporting rule change, but that doesn’t mean companies can just forget about complying with the rule. That’s because, while the electronic portion was to go into effect in July, the parts of the rule that prohibit discouraging or punishing workers who try to report injuries are already in effect. A new court ruling shows whistle-blower provisions like the ones in the rule have real teeth in them.
Continue reading “Why You Can’t Ignore OSHA’s Injury Reporting Rule…Even If It Is Delayed.”
As oil and gas enters its fourth year of downturn, there are a lot of safety trends to be concerned about – the impact of cuts; an overworked, overstressed workforce; and training new workers once business picks up to name a few. Here’s a new one: things are wearing out. Continue reading “Next Trend in Oil & Gas Safety – Rust Never Sleeps”
OSHA says it will postpone its upcoming deadline for companies to report injuries and illnesses through an online form. About 450,000 companies would have had to comply on July First if the rule was not delayed. Not really surprising that the agency announced the delay, since it never went live with the online form that companies needed to use to make the reports and there is still no one in charge of OSHA. Continue reading “Breaking: OSHA Delays Electronic Injury Reporting”
Companies have been watching OSHA closely to see what direction the agency takes under the new administration. Between rollbacks of regulations and threatened budget cuts, there is a good chance OSHA will be less aggressive in the future. But there are clear signs that OSHA may be the least of a company’s worries if there is a serious accident. Continue reading “Cited By OSHA? It May Only Be the Start Of Your Troubles.”
The saying in oil and gas these days is “lower for longer,” meaning we are going to have to get used to lower prices and learn how to be profitable. Recently the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement weighed in with a very pointed warning to industry to not let lower prices result in lower safety levels. Continue reading “BSEE Warns Industry on Safety During Downturn”
American businesses spend more than $1 billion a week on workplace injuries, according to the Liberty Mutual Workplace Injury Survey. A company that can’t get injuries under control may pay for it in:
- Higher workers comp costs,
- Increased OSHA recordables, which may threaten their ability to work for customers,
- Lost productivity, and
- potentially higher health care costs if injuries manifest themselves in other health problems.
No wonder so many businesses worry about injuries. But there is a difference between worrying and doing something about it. The key is to put a management system in place to prevent and reduce the impact of injuries. Recently we developed a paper that identifies steps companies can take to start managing injuries in an effective, systematic way.
The deadline for companies to comply with OSHA’s new requirement for electronic injury and illness reporting is July first. That’s when the regulations say many American companies must submit their injury and illness logs electronically. The change will allow OSHA to post company injury data online where it will be accessible to the public.
Just one problem. Continue reading “New OSHA E-injury reports due in 45 days, but there is one little problem.”
As we try to make jobs safer, we focus most of our attention on the “workplace” – the office, the factory, the construction site. However, we need to remind ourselves that the workplace is really anywhere people work, especially on the road. That was made graphically clear by news from Louisiana on April 13th when a fuel truck hit a dump truck on I-310 near Luling. The dump truck driver died and the tanker driver was injured. It was all caught on a passing driver’s dashcam. Continue reading “Tanker Explosion Caught on Video: Workplace Injuries Happen Wherever We Work”