RISC eNews Blast

December 10, 2013

RISC eNews Blast

December 10, 2013


NIOSH Publishes Study of Cancer Among Firefighters
Claire Reiss, NLC-RISC, 11/14/2013

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has released the attached new study, Mortality and Cancer Incidence in a Pooled Cohort of US Firefighters from San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia (1950-2009). The research has been underway for several years, and we have previously brought it to your attention. This paper summarizes and identifies questions about the study’s important conclusions, and discusses how it relates to the 2009 study published by the National League of Cities, Assessing State Firefighter Cancer Presumption Laws and Current Firefighter Cancer Research (April 2009).

Data Breach & Cyber Security

Why cloud security requires multiple layers
USA Today, 11/25/2013

Projections are that by 2020, 40% of the information in the digital universe will be handled by cloud providers. A good cloud data security plan should include:

  • Data encryption, which renders stolen data meaningless without access to the algorithm
  • Contextual access control, policies that limit who can access data from what device, and from which geographic location(s)
  • Data loss prevention technology, which prevents specific data from being sent to the cloud without encryption
  • Application auditing, which creates an audit trail within applications and helps identify unusual activities that may signal a breach
  • Enforcement of policies as data moves from one application to another

Travelers are exposing their data on public networks
Net Security, 11/18/2013

The exposure of personal information while using unsecured public wi-fi is an increasing risk for individuals, but it may also affect organizations whose employees use their personal devices for business purposes. Employees do not have to be on “travel” for compromise to occur. If they use their own personal device for work on a BYOD basis and check their email while getting coffee, their device may be compromised, and that may compromise their employer’s information as well. Mobile device security as well as safe practices are important issues that pools may want to address when discussing cyber security issues with their members.

Time To Face Reality: Utilities Are Vulnerable To Cyber Attacks
RenewGridMag, 11/18/2013

This discussion relates to the power grid, but the bottom line is that any important system that is connected to the Internet is vulnerable to attack, with potentially catastrophic consequences for cities and, in some cases, their pools.

Employee Benefits

Reinsurance fee rules would exempt certain self-funded group health plans
Business Insurance, 11/26/2013 (subscription may be required)

Proposed rules issued right before the Thanksgiving holiday would provide certain self-funded group health care plans with relief from the reinsurance fee. Employers who self-insure and self-administer these programs would be exempt from the fee for 2015 and 2016. The fee was intended to offset the cost of high-risk individuals entering the marketplace through public health exchanges, but has been controversial among employer groups who receive no direct benefit. The cost is significant at $63 per plan participant for 2014. Governmental entities are not exempt. NLC-RISC is reviewing this issue with member health pools. Contact Erin Rian with questions or concerns.

HHS also issued proposed rules that would allow employers to pay the reinsurance fee in two installments.  Legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives to repeal the fee.  Access the proposed rules here

Employment Practices

Death Of The Box: Why The Criminal History Question On Job Applications Is Heading Towards Extinction
Mondaq, 11/202013

Led by municipalities, there is an increasing trend toward legislation that bans employers from asking prospective employees about prior criminal convictions on their application form. Beyond the application form the laws differ, with some permitting an inquiry after the initial application, others allowing prospective employers to ask during the initial interview, and still others requiring the employer to wait until an initial offer of employment has been made. Pool loss control programs may want to target this as a state legislative issue to monitor for their employees.

Environmental Liability

Vacant Property’s Environmental Risks
Property Casualty 360, 11/27/2013

Among the potential environmental risks of vacant properties are asbestos insulation and tiles, as well as lead pipes and paint. Some facilities may have environmental contamination due to leaking under or above ground fuel tanks, pipes and appliances, as well as chemicals stored on the premises. Underground storage tanks may not be easily identified. Other potential problems include:

  • Mold due to disrepair and water intrusion
  • Dumping of hazardous waste by outsiders
  • Use of vacant facilities for uses such as methamphetamine labs
  • Contamination of adjacent properties

Cities may become involved with these properties when attempting to identify owners who can be held responsible for remediation. They may also acquire ownership of contaminated properties through eminent domain or other means. The economic downturn may have increased the acquisition of these properties. To avoid unexpected costs, cities that are acquiring such property should consider an environmental contamination assessment before the acquisition is completed.

Social Media

Government's Termination of Employee for Derogatory Facebook Posts Upheld
Municipal Minute, 11/19/2013

A federal district court has ruled that a local government did not violate a child protective services worker’s First Amendment rights when it terminated her for derogatory remarks she made on Facebook about individuals on public assistance. The court agreed with the employer that she could no longer adequately perform her job because she could not testify in court without being immediately impeached by the posting. The posting also caused disruption in her workplace sufficient to justify her termination.

Workers' Compensation

10 Strategies to Combat the Rx Abuse Epidemic - An Insurer's Perspective
Property Casualty 360, 12/2/2013

The following ten strategies are discussed in detail:

  1. State prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP)
  2. Mandatory use of the PDMP
  3. Doctor shopping law
  4. Substance abuse services
  5. Prescriber education programs
  6. State Good Samaritan laws to provide immunity to individuals seeking overdose help for themselves or others
  7. Support for Narcan use (a drug that counters the effects of prescription painkiller overdose)
  8. Pre-prescription requirement for physical exam, drug screening, or a bona-fide doctor patient relationship
  9. State law requiring or permitting a pharmacist to request identification before dispensing controlled substances
  10. Medicaid plan requiring those suspected of abusing controlled substances to use a single prescriber and pharmacy

The full report is available here.

Industry Reps Wanted More from NCOIL Opioid Guidelines
Property Casualty 360, 11/27/2013

The National Conference of Insurance Legislators has adopted a resolution recommending best practices states can use to control dispensing of opioids in cases involving insurance. Those practices include:

  • Establishing, evaluating and funding prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) that require real-time reporting.
  • Creating strong evidence-based prescribing standards that recognize “one-size-does-not-fit-all” and that crack down on “pill mill” pain clinics.
  • Promoting enhanced and effective education of physicians and the public, including opportunities for safe drug disposal.
  • Pursuing options for encouraging treatment and prevention, including use of certain drug treatments and of drug courts.

However, a representative of the American Insurance Association criticized the guidelines for being overly restrictive, not allowing for technological innovation, and not including dispensing prescribers.

Brain Still Injured from Concussion After Symptoms Fade
Claims Journal, 11/21/2013

Research supported by the National Institutes of Health has found that specialized brain scans show evidence of brain abnormality four months after a mild concussion, after most reported symptoms have dissipated. These abnormalities are not observable on standard tests such as CT and MRI scans. If adopted by clinicians, this research may raise the cost of workers’ compensation head injury claims due to increased use of the specialized scan and additional lost time from work due to persisting abnormalities.

Other Topics of Interest

RMS: Terrorism Risk Can Be Modeled; Insuring It Remains Difficult
Property Casualty 360, 12/5/2013

Risk Management Solutions has issued a white paper asserting that terrorism is difficult to insure, but can be modeled by looking at it from a strategic rather than a tactical level. The task is to predict how often an attack is likely to occur not to actually predict or prevent an attack. RMS comments that due to active counter-terrorism, the annual volatility in terrorism losses involving conventional losses in the west is less than that for natural hazards. However, successful large-scale terrorist attacks occur so infrequently that it is more difficult to underwrite potential losses.

Parking Tickets on Windshield a Permissible Use under DPPA
Municipal Minute, 12/4/2013

In a DPPA case that is moving back and forth between a federal district court and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the district court has granted a village’s motion for summary judgment. The issue is whether the village’s practice of placing parking tickets on a car’s windshield was a disclosure and, if so, whether it was a permissible use under the DPPA. The district court held that although placing a parking ticket on a car’s windshield is a “disclosure” under the DPPA, it is a “permissible use” because the personal driver information is used for reasons including verification that the ticket was issued to the correct person. The plaintiff has filed an appeal back to the Seventh Circuit.

10 Tips to Prepare for the Aging Insurance IT Workforce
Property Casualty 360, 11/27/2013

These tips are discussed in the context of the IT workforce, but with a little adaptation apply to any pool operations that are facing retirement of key personnel over the next few years. Among the tips are:

  • Developing an inventory of key systems
  • Documenting and preserving knowledge
  • Formal cross generational sharing of information and perspectives
  • Consider transitional programs to retain valuable knowledge while building new capacity
  • Consider outsourcing opportunities
  • Evaluate how the work environment affects a multigenerational work force

Printer Risk, Now in 3D!
Property Casualty 360, 11/19/2013

As 3D printers break into mainstream use, they pose a new type of risk for public entities and adopt them, as well as those entities’ risk pools. Among the possible claims that might face an entity that uses this technology are bodily injury and workers’ compensation claims arising from use of the printers and the products they produce, and copyright infringement if a design is used without the permission of its owner. Although the use of 3D printers seems far removed from the average small public entity, prices are expected to drop and usage could increase in the future, so it is a risk pools may want to consider.

In This Issue

NLC-RISC Report: NIOSH Publishes Study of Cancer Among Firefighters

Data Breach & Cyber Security

Employee Benefits

Employment Practices

Environmental Liability

Social Media

Workers' Compensation

Other Topics of Interest

Upcoming Events

Employment Opportunities

Upcoming Events

Essentials in Risk Pool Management Certificate Program (Online courses begin 2/6/2014)

Southeast Loss Control Meeting
March 25-28, 2014
Nashville DoubleTree by Hilton

The TML Risk Management Pool (TN) is hosting this year's regional meeting. For meeting details, please contact Michael Fann.

NLC-RISC Trustees Conference
May 8-9, 2014
Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter (online reservations now available)

Employment Opportunities in Pooling

Visit the NLC-RISC website under the Resource tab for details about the following positions, or click on the job title to be directed to the pool's job posting on their website.

Senior Program Coordinator (NLC Mutual/NLC-RISC)

Loss Control Manager (Municipal Association of South Carolina)