Category Archives: Worker’s Compensation

Tips to Defeat the Heat



Thankfully in Michigan, we don’t often see triple digit temperatures in the summer time. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get hot. And let’s not start on the humidity.

Our friends at Hastings Mutual Insurance Company have some real life stories about heat stress incidents they want to share with you, and helpful tips on how to beat the heat.

Roofers on a roofIn the construction industry, an employee began installing a roof on a hot sunny morning. Two hours later, he complained of feeling ill and vomited. However, he continued working. At 3:00 pm, when he descended the ladder, he was disoriented and confused. He missed a step and fell to the ground. His supervisor and some of his co-workers drove him to the hospital and several hours later was pronounced dead. His internal body core temperature was approximately 108 degrees Fahrenheit.


Man carrying basket of grapes in vineyardIn the agricultural industry, a young worker arrived for her shift at a vineyard. Her job required her to spend long hours tying grapevines in the sun. As the day wore on, the temperature skyrocketed, eventually reaching well into the triple digits. After nine hours of work, she collapsed from heat exhaustion. Two days later, she succumbed to the effects of the heat exhaustion and died. She was only 17 years old and her life was snuffled out due to overexposure to the heat.


Hastings Mutual Insurance Company wants you to know that the two above examples were totally preventable.

Here are three simple steps to defeat the heat:

1. Water

Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. This is no mystery since our bodies are almost entirely composed of water. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink water. By that point, you are already on your way to becoming dehydrated. A general rule of thumb is to drink 4 cups of water every hour. It is most effective to drink a small amount of water every 15 minutes.

2. Rest

Rest breaks help the body to recover.

3. Shade

Resting in the shade or air-conditioning helps the body to cool down.


More steps to reduce the risk of heat exhaustion:

1. Report symptoms of heat illness right away

2. Wear light-colored cotton clothing

3. Wear a hat

4. Wear sunscreen to prevent sunburn

5. Watch out for persons who show signs of heat stress

6. Know where you are working in case you need to call 9-1-1


While waiting for medical assistance, you can help a person in distress by:

1. Moving the person to a cool, shady area

2. Loosen the person’s clothing

3. Fan air on the worker

4. Apply cool water or ice packs to his or her skin


Heat-Related Illness: Know the Signs

It’s important to know the signs of heat-related illness – acting quickly can save lives.

– Heat Stroke: It’s the most serious heat-related illness. Usually, when your body builds up heat, you sweat to get rid of the extra heat. With heat stroke, your body can’t cool down.

The symptoms include: confusion, fainting, seizures, very high body temperature, and hot, dry skin or profuse sweating.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Call 9-1-1 if a person shows any signs of heat stroke.

– Heat exhaustion: Happens when your body loses too much water and salt through sweating.

The symptoms may include: headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, thirst and heavy sweating.

– Heat fatigue, heat cramps, and heat rash: These are less serious, but they are still signs of over exposure to heat.


OSHA Heat PosterAs a business owner, you can prevent or reduce the chance of your employees falling into these situations by:

– Providing ample cold water for all employees in convenient, visible locations close to the work area.

– Encourage workers to drink water before they get thirsty, or about every 15 minutes.

– Offering plenty of breaks in a shady area or in an air-conditioning facility.

– Encourage employees to wear, or provide employees with light-colored and permeable clothing.

– Monitor workers for signs and symptoms of heat exposure and encourage employees to report symptoms of any heat-related illnesses.

– Train workers and supervisors about the hazards leading to heat stress and ways to prevent them.

– Implement an emergency plan and know what to do if someone is experiencing symptoms of a heat-related illness.

– Monitor weather conditions and reschedule jobs with high heat exposure to cooler times of the day.



Do You Know the Difference Between Physical and Occupational Therapy for a Worker’s Comp Claim?

InjuryIf you are injured on the job and need to undergo therapy, most people would assume that it’s occupational therapy they need because the accident happened on the job. That is not always the case.

I have provided a link to an article titled, “Differences Between Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy,” that describes the differences between physical and occupational therapy as it relates to worker’s compensation claims.

The following article was written by Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc., and is a national expert in the field of worker’s compensation.

Length of time between work incident and doctor visit undermine claim

A worker may have difficulty establishing a connection between her work activities and injuries when the evidence shows a great length of time between the alleged work incident and a visit to a doctor and when the worker does not tell her doctor the injury is work-related.

Case name: Starbuck v. Vigo County Public Library, No. 93A02-1001-EX-67 (Ind. Ct. App. 09/28/10, unpublished).

Ruling: The Indiana Court of Appeals held that a librarian was not entitled to benefits for her injuries.

What it means: A worker may have difficulty establishing a connection between her work activities and injuries when the evidence shows a great length of time between the alleged work incident and a visit to a doctor and when the worker does not tell her doctor the injury is work-related. 

Summary: A librarian performed puppet shows as a part of her duties and was required to hold puppets weighing from five to 20 pounds. She noticed a pain in her right arm and visited her physician, who diagnosed her with a bone spur in her elbow. The librarian was later diagnosed with a disc bulge in her spine and her doctor prepared a letter at the librarian’s request stating that it was work-related. She also suffered a tear to her rotator cuff. The Indiana Court of Appeals held that the librarian was not entitled to compensation because she did not prove her injuries were work-related.

The court noted that the librarian did not visit a doctor until over a year after she first performed puppet shows. The librarian also told her doctor that she had pain after doing yard work.

The library argued that the letter written by the doctor was not intended to be a report on causation. The court agreed, stating that the letter was written to assist the librarian with her insurance claim “rather than to be forensic in nature.” The letter did not expressly determine that her impairments were the result of her work at the library.

Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.

December 16, 2010

Copyright 2010© LRP Publications

Hastings Mutual Insurance Company Recognized Again For Financial Strength

Hastings, Michigan, October 13, 2010: For more than 125 years Hastings Mutual Insurance Company has focused on financial strength and responsible management of its assets. The company’s dedication to excellence has paid off as reflected in their recent results. This year Hastings Mutual Insurance Company is again awarded the highest honors by Weiss Ratings (formerly and by Demotech, Inc.

Weiss is an independent research and ratings company that has been in operation since 1971. Melissa Gannon, vice president at Weiss Ratings, states, “Unlike most other rating agencies, Weiss Ratings accepts no compensation of any kind from the companies it rates.” Weiss announced on October 4, 2010, that Hastings Mutual is again rated “A+” based on the company’s strong financial solvency.

The Weiss score is based on the current and future financial stability offered to customers, vendors and employees. Less than 1 percent of financial companies reviewed meet the criteria for this exceptional rating.

This latest honor follows a recent Demotech, Inc. announcement that Hastings Mutual is again a “Super Regional™” carrier. Published in the May 17, 2010 issue of Insurance Journal, Demotech Inc. revealed their list of Super Regional™ P/C insurers. Of the 2,700 companies analyzed, only 165 qualified as a Super Regional™.

Joseph Petrelli, president at Demotech states, “These companies are strong, stable markets that have been working hard for their agents and insureds.”

“This recognition is an honor, and we know that the partnership we share with our agents is integral to our success,” remarked Bill Wallace, president and CEO at Hastings Mutual Insurance Company. “We look forward to our Company’s future and Hastings Mutual’s continued success with our agents.”

About Hastings Mutual Insurance Company

Hastings Mutual is an award winning, A. M. Best: A+ rated, regional Property Casualty insurance company. Hastings Mutual operates in six Midwestern states. The company, based in Hastings, Michigan, has been writing commercial, farm, and personal lines business through independent agents since 1885. For more information about Hastings Mutual and their 125th anniversary, access the company web site:

Report shows workers’ comp rates holding steady for now

An abundance of capacity and positive loss experience have held down overall workers’ comp rates throughout 2010. However, stress fractures could indicate a change in direction, according to a new report from Marsh Inc.

The insurance broker and risk adviser’s report, U.S. Insurance Market Report 2010, Third Quarter Update: Insureds Net Benefits as Downward Rate Pressures Persist, notes that little has changed in the first nine months of 2010, and the trend will likely continue unless there are significant events in the macro environment.

“Rates have held steady within a range,” said Jonathan Zaffino, U.S. global risk management casualty leader for Marsh. “We’ve certainly seen rate decreases at a pretty consistent pace.”

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  • Zaffino said there have been many factors at play. “An abundance of capacity, a very, very competitive market, and we haven’t had any major industry disruptions.” 

    Zaffino said conditions have been favorable for Marsh’s buyers and clients.

    The report cited a 2010 NCCI report that revealed the workers’ comp market has experienced 23 consecutive quarters of rate decreases.

    At this stage, “we have to ask how much further can we go in terms of rate decreases,” Zaffino said.

    For example, the report noted signs of rate hikes in large jurisdictions, especially California, New York, and Florida. The California Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau has proposed an overall 27.7 percent rate increase. “The proposal gives a window into the market’s direction,” the report said.

    In New York, legislation affirmed increases to loss costs — predominantly driven by recent reform measures and increases to wage replacement rates, resulting in a 7.7 percent increase to loss costs as of October. “Another indicator of the market’s direction,” the report said.

    Zaffino said those could be a directional indicator to determine an underlying trend. “We put the different factors together. What’s happening at the state level. What’s happening among carriers. NCCI said frequency is declining, but severity is increasing,” he said. “Pieces of the puzzle are causing us to say, are we perhaps at the bottom even though there’s an abundance of capacity? We very well could be at or near the bottom.”

    The impact of national health care reform is also an area that will “bear monitoring as we enter 2011,” the report said.

    Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.

    December 6, 2010

    Copyright 2010© LRP Publications