Articles Posted in Defense Base Act

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“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
― Maya Angelou

How Did Your Employer and your Employer’s Insurance Company Do?

In 2010, the US Department of Labor, in an effort to expedite the reporting of injuries and deaths and payment of Defense Base Act benefits to military contractors and their families, began publishing a “Report Card” for the major Defense Base Act insurance companies.  Employers and their insurers are responsible for reporting work related injuries and deaths and for payment of DBA benefits.

According to the “Report Card” for the first quarter of 2016, ACE, AIG, AWAC, CNA, STAR INDEMNITY and ZURICH reported injuries and deaths to the Department of Labor District Offices within 30 days, 86% (Zurich) to 100% (ACE) of the time.  These figures are calculated on reporting within 30 days of the date of the injury or death, or the date of the employer’s knowledge of the injury and the onset of disability, whichever is later.

According to the DOL, first payments were issued within 30 days of disabling injury or death between 58% (AIG) and 93% (STAR INDEMNITY) of the time in the same reporting period.

The full report from 2009 through 2016 is found below and can also be found on the Department of Labor’s website.

How many days did it take your employer and its Defense Base Act insurer to report the claim to the United States Department of Labor?  How did they make you feel?  I want to know. Continue reading

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Many of my Louisiana Workers Compensation, Longshore & Harborworker and Defense Base Act clients injure their back or neck on the job. Often they have back or neck pain that their treating physician wants to treat with epidural steroid injections.

According to a recent April 23, 2014 warning put out by the Food and Drug Administration, these injections inserted into the spine may cause serious negative consequences, including loss of vision stroke, paralysis and even death. A number of the adverse effects have occurred within 48 hours of the injection. The FDA has not approved injections for back and neck pain. Speak with your healthcare provider if you want to switch to an alternative form of treatment.

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Daylight Savings Time, the practice of temporarily advancing clocks during the summertime so that evenings have more daylight and mornings have less, has been observed since 1895. The practice is the source of much annual anticipation for individuals eager to benefit from longer days and more day lit hours.

A study from the American Psychological Association, however, suggests “springing forward” from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time may have some unintended consequences such as disrupted sleep patterns and an increased risk for workplace injury.

According to the study’s authors, the hour of sleep lost when Americans set their clocks an hour ahead each spring results in higher rates of workplace accidents caused by sleep loss. The study analyzed accident and time use data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration and Bureau of Labor Statistics, concluding that the average person sleeps about 40 minutes less the Sunday night of the time switch resulting in approximately 3.6 more work injuries the following Monday in hazardous occupations such as mining and construction.

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If you were hurt on the job and are collecting wage loss benefits, company detectives may be stalking you to try to prove you are malingering. For about $300, Private Investigators (PIs) may mount a Global Position System (GPS) to the underside of your car and follow you throughout the day from their laptop computer. Some GPS devices are powered by the car’s battery and typically placed under the dashboard while other devices are equipped with their own batteries to enable inconspicuous placement on the vehicle’s body. PIs use the GPS device to see if you are working and not reporting your wages or if you are participating in physical activities beyond your work restrictions.

Using a GPS in this fashion may have potential criminal stalking and civil privacy implications. For example, California and Texas ban the use of GPS trackers without consent with exceptions for law enforcement and car owners. If you find one of these devices on your vehicle, immediately contact your local police department.

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Working in a noisy environment may be more than annoying-it may be bad for your heart. According to a study released this month by researchers at The University of British Columbia and published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, individuals working in noisy environments are at have a higher prevalence of chest pain, heart attacks, heart disease and high blood pressure due to psychological stress acquired by exposure to loud noise at the work place.

A team of researchers analyzed data on over 6, 300 employed individuals 20 years and older who participated in the U.S National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1999 and 2004. As part of the U.S National Health and Nutrition Examination survey, participants underwent physical exams and answered questions about their occupational and general health. University of British Columbia researchers then divided the study participants by type of workplace: generally quiet work environments and persistently noisy workplaces. “Persistent noise” did not include loud music or talking but was defined as unwanted industrial noise such as the noise commonly found in mining and manufacturing industries. More than 20 percent of the approximately 6,300 individuals had been exposed to over 8 months of workplace noise. Even after taking into consideration the high rates of heart disease risks factors such as tobacco use and obesity among the mostly middle-aged male individuals working in a loud environment, researchers still found that workers exposed to industrial noise were about twice as likely to have serious heart problems than individuals working in quieter environments. According to study results, individuals exposed to loud noise at work were about twice as likely to have above normal diastolic blood pressure, a biomarker linked to hypertension and cardiac problems. Among those who worked in a noisy environment, men under age fifty and men who smoked were at a higher risk of coronary disease and heart attack.

Because the study relied on self-reported diagnosis data and did not consider other occupational factors associated with cardiovascular disease such as air pollution, further studies are needed before the connection between noise and cardiovascular illness is proven. Despite conclusive causal evidence of the connection, the scientific community is interested in the results of the study and eager to explore the possible connection further.

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A U.S Army decision to continue an exclusive contract with KBR Inc. rather than solicit bids from other military service providers has many Washington lawmakers shaking their heads. KBR, a leading American engineering and construction company headquartered in Houston, holds the current contract with the U.S Army for provision of services in Iraq. These services include equipment maintenance, facility operations, dining, cleaning, laundry, sewage and trash pickup. KBR employs approximately 14,000 U.S. employees in Iraq to provide logistical support to U.S forces. Under the latest contract, KBR will receive $568 million to provide support services in Iraq until full troop withdrawal in December 2011.

In January 2010, the U.S Army responded to Congressional pressure for increased competition between private service providers and opened solicitation for competitive bids. Two rival companies, DynCorp International Inc and Fluor Corp submitted bids. While a spokesman for DynCorp stated their proposal was “designed to produce significant savings for taxpayers,” an Army spokesperson defended the decision to retain KBR, citing KBR’s satisfactory performance and the operational and financial costs associated with switching providers. According to Army officials, switching contractors would cost taxpayers $77 million and would result in an inevitably inefficient transitory period. The May 16 decision to retain KBR came despite two pending lawsuits filed by the U.S Justice Department against KBR as well as continued controversy over KBR’s prices, politics, production quality, payroll size, and financial honesty. A civil fraud suit filed in April alleges KBR charged the government for unauthorized security services in Iraq while a separate lawsuit alleges KBR transportation department employees received unlawful kickbacks.

Both Democrats and Republican lawmakers on the U.S Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee expressed their disappointment with the single-source contract, addressing concerns for fair competition and service oversight to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

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  • In his books “Disposable Army: Civilian Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan,” and “Blood Money: Wasted Billions, Lost Lives and Corporate Greed in Iraq”, Christian Miller investigates the medical services available to injured civilian employees operating oversees.
  • The United States government has increasingly relied on private contractor services in Afghanistan and Iraq. Civilians risk injury and death in war zones to perform support services such as laundry, mail delivery, translation, and transportation of goods.
  • Particularly in times of economic trouble, thousands of ordinary citizens are drawn to war zone contractor work because of the opportunity to make a higher salary while supporting their country.
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Oil and gas companies last Friday began halting exploratory drilling in the deepwater of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. The companies are following a federal government order mandating a six-month exploratory drilling ban. Job layoffs may be inevitable.

Louisiana officials estimate the administration’s suspension order for the 33 rigs will cause the loss of 3,000 to 6,000 Louisiana jobs in the next two to three weeks and as many as 20,000 if the moratorium persists.

Injured workers who are covered by a job injury compensation scheme and who have returned to work with restrictions prior to being laid off, should know that they may be able to have their wage loss indemnity benefits reinstated because the resulting job loss is of no fault of their own. These compensation schemes include: