State governments continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in a number of different ways that impact businesses and employers. Workers compensation has been a much-discussed topic within this context. In September of 2020, California enacted a new law that codified previous executive orders the created rebuttable presumptions relating to employees who test positive for COVID-19. In addition to the rebuttable presumption, the law created a number of reporting requirements for employers and their workers compensation carriers and administrators.
As various parts of the United States federal government move to address the growing opioid crisis, the Department of Transportation has updated its drug testing policies to include a stronger focus on testing for painkillers. Published on November 13, 2017, the new policy went into effect on January 1, 2018. It brings the Department of Transportation’s drug testing rules into harmony with new rules issued by the Department of Health and Human Services. The new rules will apply to employers regulated by the Department of Transportation, including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. That means trucking companies will fall under the purview of this rule change when it comes to pre-employment and post-accident drug testing.
The United States as a whole has a significant problem with prescription medication. Estimates are that Americans consume seventy five percent of the world’s prescription drugs. A large part of these prescription drugs focus on chronic pain management. Doctors in the 1980s began prescribing opioids for those patients suffering from chronic pain under a mistaken assumption that prescription opioids had little potential for addiction or abuse.
On August 1, 2017, OSHA launched its web portal to accept the submissions of recordkeeping forms per the requirements in the final rule; to “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses.” As we had advised earlier this year, under this rule, which was enacted in May 2016.
Prescription painkillers create unique problems in the world of workers compensation. Doctors in all fields have grown more aware of the issues created by prescribing potentially addictive painkillers to patients. Painkiller addictions can make the likelihood of finding a long-term solution to a patient’s situation decrease.