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Column: Workers' Comp

A Microdose of Common Sense

By: | February 20, 2017 • 3 min read
Roberto Ceniceros is senior editor at Risk & Insurance® and chair of the National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. He can be reached at [email protected] Read more of his columns and features.

Sorry, but if you are still focused on how the growing legalization of marijuana might impact your workers’ comp claims, you are woefully behind the times. LSD is allegedly the new drug of choice at work, fueled by stories of silicon techies experimenting with microdoses of the hallucinogen to enhance creativity and productivity.

“Microdosing” adherents believe LSD improves cognitive function and focus, if taken in such small doses that the usual hallucinogenic effect associated with the drug doesn’t occur, so the stories report.

I first found myself thinking there might be some logic to this. But I quickly settled on the opinion that consuming LSD at work is way too stupid for way too many reasons.

For one, I don’t want my editors tripping and laughing hysterically while deciding which parts of my column deserve the delete button. Regular old coffee should keep them productive enough for the task.

I can only imagine a risk manager’s thoughts, “It was bad enough worrying about workers operating machinery while rendered inattentive from smoking legal weed the night before. Now I have to worry about operators plowing down co-workers while fleeing from giant paisley-colored monsters chasing them?”

In theory, the effects of microdosing are supposed to be almost imperceptible; you wouldn’t notice anything different about the microdoser next to you, other than their annoying tendency to be more productive than you.

I can only imagine a risk manager’s thoughts, “It was bad enough worrying about workers operating machinery while rendered inattentive from smoking legal weed the night before. Now I have to worry about operators plowing down co-workers while fleeing from giant paisley-colored monsters chasing them?”

But a reality check raises several questions. How does the user control dose amounts of LSD, an illegal street drug? What if the user decides to take take more — enough to crash a vehicle when a traffic light turns from red to blue and lavender on their way home from work?

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Would they argue that the employer is responsible for workers’ comp because the hallucinogenic was used in the scope of employment? After all, they were attempting to be more productive in the workplace.

The dozens of stories written about LSD microdosing in the workplace may be more media hype than actual trend. But microdosing does have real proponents, if not for workplace productivity, then for general performance enhancement.

No doubt some people will read those stories about enhancing workplace productivity and decide it sounds like a great idea.

This all points to two intersecting trends that might interest the risk manager. Along with increased acceptance for legalizing weed, I think we are seeing growing acceptance of other substances, coupled with greater interest in performance enhancement.

As I sit writing this column while slurping my morning Joe, I just hope that there isn’t some other workers’ comp journalist with an LSD-fueled competitive edge that, by comparison, renders my work colorless. &

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

2018 Risk All Stars

Stop Mitigating Risk. Start Conquering It Like These 2018 Risk All Stars

The concept of risk mastery and ownership, as displayed by the 2018 Risk All Stars, includes not simply seeking to control outcomes but taking full responsibility for them.
By: | September 14, 2018 • 3 min read

People talk a lot about how risk managers can get a seat at the table. The discussion implies that the risk manager is an outsider, striving to get the ear or the attention of an insider, the CEO or CFO.

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But there are risk managers who go about things in a different way. And the 2018 Risk All Stars are prime examples of that.

These risk managers put in gear their passion, creativity and perseverance to become masters of a situation, pushing aside any notion that they are anything other than key players.

Goodyear’s Craig Melnick had only been with the global tire maker a few months when Hurricane Harvey dumped a record amount of rainfall on Houston.

Brilliant communication between Melnick and his new teammates gave him timely and valuable updates on the condition of manufacturing locations. Melnick remained in Akron, mastering the situation by moving inventory out of the storm’s path and making sure remediation crews were lined up ahead of time to give Goodyear its best leg up once the storm passed and the flood waters receded.

Goodyear’s resiliency in the face of the storm gave it credibility when it went to the insurance markets later that year for renewals. And here is where we hear a key phrase, produced by Kevin Garvey, one of Goodyear’s brokers at Aon.

“The markets always appreciate a risk manager who demonstrates ownership,” Garvey said, in what may be something of an understatement.

These risk managers put in gear their passion, creativity and perseverance to become masters of a situation, pushing aside any notion that they are anything other than key players.

Dianne Howard, a 2018 Risk All Star and the director of benefits and risk management for the Palm Beach County School District, achieved ownership of $50 million in property storm exposures for the district.

With FEMA saying it wouldn’t pay again for district storm losses it had already paid for, Howard went to the London markets and was successful in getting coverage. She also hammered out a deal in London that would partially reimburse the district if it suffered a mass shooting and needed to demolish a building, like what happened at Sandy Hook in Connecticut.

2018 Risk All Star Jim Cunningham was well-versed enough to know what traditional risk management theories would say when hospitality workers were suffering too many kitchen cuts. “Put a cut-prevention plan in place,” is the traditional wisdom.

But Cunningham, the vice president of risk management for the gaming company Pinnacle Entertainment, wasn’t satisfied with what looked to him like a Band-Aid approach.

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Instead, he used predictive analytics, depending on his own team to assemble company-specific data, to determine which safety measures should be used company wide. The result? Claims frequency at the company dropped 60 percent in the first year of his program.

Alumine Bellone, a 2018 Risk All Star and the vice president of risk management for Ardent Health Services, faced an overwhelming task: Create a uniform risk management program when her hospital group grew from 14 hospitals in three states to 31 hospitals in seven.

Bellone owned the situation by visiting each facility right before the acquisition and again right after, to make sure each caregiving population was ready to integrate into a standardized risk management system.

After consolidating insurance policies, Bellone achieved $893,000 in synergies.

In each of these cases, and in more on the following pages, we see examples of risk managers who weren’t just knocking on the door; they were owning the room. &

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Risk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, clarity of vision and passion.

See the complete list of 2018 Risk All Stars.

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]