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Marijuana Question Passes; Now What for Employers?

Posted by Tom Jones on Nov 9, 2016 7:24:50 AM

Massachusetts has a new law permitting the possession and recreational use of marijuana. Voters approved Question 4 on legalization yesterday by a margin of 53.6 percent to 46.4 percent.

Marijuana.jpgAnd unlike the earned sick time law a couple of years ago, this one comes with a short lead-in period - the law takes effect on December 15.

What does the 12-page statute mean for employers?

The law focuses almost exclusively on the regulation and taxation of the sale of recreational marijuana. The measure will actually have little to no direct impact on most employers. There is only a short reference to employment in section 2, which discusses limitations of the law:

(e) This chapter shall not require an employer to permit or accommodate conduct otherwise allowed by this chapter (i.e. the use of recreational marijuana) in the workplace and shall not affect the authority of employers to enact and enforce workplace policies restricting the consumption of marijuana by employees.    

Companies that addressed their drug-testing and drug-use policies in response to the 2012 medical marijuana law can prepare for the 2016 law with little more than a quick review. For companies that did not establish policies four years ago, now is the time to do so.

Review your drug/alcohol-free workplace policies to ensure that they cover all forms of drug use, including marijuana. You should also review your drug- and alcohol-testing polices to ensure they cover the topics you want.

You may want to revise your policy to ensure that it covers all aspects of your workplace, including vehicles used for business purposes, off-site duties at customer sites, work-related events, seminars and company owned parking lots and garages.

Employers should keep an eye out for potential court cases related to the new law. Such cases could materially affect the manner in which employers implement the law in the future.

There has been only one legal case so far in Massachusetts involving an employee and medical marijuana. In that case, the employee was terminated, sued claiming discrimination, and the court ruled in the employer’s favor on all six counts, except privacy.

Call AIM with any questions about the new marijuana law or about reviewing and updating your drug-use related polices. Contact Beth Yohai and [email protected] or call her at 617-262-1180 x335. 

Topics: Elections, Workplace Safety, Marijuana

Innovation Showcase Honors A.I.M. Mutual Injury Prevention Effort

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Jan 14, 2014 11:53:00 AM

A global forum has recognized workers compensation insurer Associated Industries of Massachusetts Mutual Insurance Cos. of Burlington for its innovative efforts to reduce workplace injuries and speed recovery times.

BuildingThe January 2014 edition of Best’s Review magazine features A.I.M. Mutual and 15 other companies the publication says have employed unique and creative approaches to problem-solving. A.I.M. Mutual’s project, “Injury Prevention/Worksite Wellness Model,” identified employee medical pre-conditions that had been shown to predict on-the-job disabilities, and then showed how wellness intervention could reduce injuries and speed recovery time.

The worksite wellness model is the culmination of a Clinical Process Improvement/Risk Reduction Initiative that A.I.M. Mutual developed over several years through its partnership with Best Doctors Occupational Health Institute (BDOHI). With BDOHI, A.I.M. Mutual first addressed the post-injury process, giving injured workers direct access to affiliated medical specialists and managing the key risk factors likely to impact recovery. The Injury Prevention/Worksite Wellness Model brings preventive measures to the forefront and expands the traditional work injury loss-control service approach to include a focus on general well-being.

Best Review’s Innovation Showcase is an annual forum for recognizing forward thinking among insurance organizations. A panel of insurance industry experts assessed the relative merits of all 41 submissions in the 2013 event. Companies from North America, Germany, China and India participated.

In reviewing this submission, Dianne Batistoni, a partner at EisnerAmper LLP, called A.I.M. Mutual’s program “the future of intelligent risk management in workers’ compensation insurance.”

“We are honored to be recognized in the A.M. Best Innovation Showcase for our Injury Prevention/Worksite Wellness Model,” said A.I.M. Mutual President Michael Standing. “The Model is a proactive approach to injury prevention combined with inviting employees to become better stewards of their own health. Both are intended to help employers reduce the rate of workplace injuries and improve medical outcomes, particularly in cases that might be compromised by known—or unknown—risk conditions.”

“Working with A.I.M. Mutual’s Claims and Injury Prevention team has been a privilege for us,” noted Michael Shor, Managing Director of BDOHI. “Together, we have embarked on an integrated effort to reduce the risk factors that complicate injuries while helping those who have suffered work-related injury get the right diagnosis and treatment the first time. These are exceptional benefits for both the employee and employer.”

To read about this innovation and all the others highlighted in the Showcase, visit www.bestreview.com. The January digital edition is available to all readers.

Best’s Review is published by the A.M. Best Co. for insurance professionals. Founded in 1899, A.M. Best Co. is the world’s oldest and most authoritative insurance rating and information source.

A.I.M. Mutual and its subsidiary companies are rated A (Excellent) by A.M. Best Company. Since inception, A.I.M. Mutual has been sponsored by the Commonwealth’s largest employer association, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, which has more than 6,500 employer members. The insurer, formed in 1989, provides workers compensation coverage for 16,000 employers throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut.

BDOHI was established in 2005 by Best Doctors, Inc. Best Doctors serves more than 30 million members globally. Participating physicians, named by an impartial peer review, are among the top 5 percent in their specialty fields and are committed to helping members get the right diagnosis and medical treatment without delay.

Topics: Workers Compensation, A.I.M. Mutual Insurance Company, Workplace Safety

OSHA Enforcement Push Underscores Value of Workplace Safety

Posted by Tom Crupi on Mar 30, 2010 3:59:00 PM

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is going on the offensive.

OSHA's new assistant secretary, David Michaels, has made it clear that the agency will step up its enforcement actions against employers. The OSHA budget for Fiscal Year 2010 increased 10 percent and the agency plans to hire 100 compliance officers nationwide. Meanwhile, OSHA is de-emphasizing cooperative initiatives such as the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) and alliances promoted under the two previous assistant secretaries.

Region 1, which encompasses the New England States, will hire a dozen new compliance officers.  Regular inspections will be directed towards employers with an elevated Days Away Restricted Transfer or DART rate. DART is an accident/illness incident rate that OSHA uses to evaluate a company's safety performance. All injuries or illnesses that result in lost time, restricted duty or job transfer are counted and the total multiplied by 200,000 and divided by the number of hours worked.

OSHA also plans to target specific hazards under the National Emphasis Program (NEP).  NEP inspections will focus on chemical exposures, lead, combustible dusts, hexavalent chrome, silica, and others.  In addition, OSHA plans to conduct comprehensive record keeping inspections in an effort to catch employers who are underreporting injuries and illnesses.

Inspection activity has already increased in Massachusetts, and penalties are at higher levels than they were several years ago.  The acceleration in enforcement is the most significant I have seen in my 40 years of helping companies develop health and safety programs. 

When I teach the AIM OSHA/Safety Certificate series,  I find that many employers do not fully understand  the OSHA standards, nor what their rights are when OSHA shows up at their door.  Employers need to become familiar with how OSHA operates, focus on correcting deficiencies, and reducing their DART rate.  If not, they will be at risk for an inspection and costly penalties.

Tom Crupi is Vice President of Loss Control for A.I.M. Mutual Insurance Company, a workers compensation insurance company based in Burlington

Topics: A.I.M. Mutual Insurance Company, Workplace Safety, AIM

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