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April 2010

Getting to the Point on Needlestick Prevention

LaRochelle Greg 2  Posted by Greg LaRochelle

The Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act was enacted in 2000 during the Clinton administration and requires healthcare employers to investigate and implement “sharps with engineered sharps injury protection” or SESIP with annual documentation and employee input. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 348,000 needlesticks happen to hospital workers each year with an additional 590,000 needlestick incidents happening to non-hospital healthcare workers. The exposure control plan required under OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard is required to be updated yearly with documentation of employee training on new devices and procedures.

Today, there are many so-called "safe" or "safer" needle devices available on the market with either an active or passive safety feature or mechanism. An active mechanism requires the user to manually manipulate a needle cover typically with a change of grip on the needle device or use of the other hand to maneuver the cover. This need to use the other hand introduces an opportunity for a stick injury. In contrast, a passive design with a retractable needle mechanism is activated with pressure applied on the syringe plunger. This action usually does not require a change of grip and excludes the use of the other hand. This passive, retractable technology meets the need for a safely-engineered device.

Choosing a safe needle device must involve the workers who use them while taking into account error reducing measures such as:

  • Involve no or minimal additional manual manipulation
  • Involve no or minimal extra steps
  • Must be obvious on mechanism of activation
  • Must be natural and consistent with the previous action(s)
  • Must be easy to learn and remember

For more information, visit the International Sharps Injury Prevention Society's website at and the Retractable Technologies, Inc.'s VanishPoint website at

Source: Human Factors Analysis of Needle Safety Devices, William A. Hyman, Journal of Clinical Engineering, Fall 2002

Risk Management Professionals Getting Down to Business in a Town Near You

Did you know that every spring thousands of risk management professionals gather for a five-day conference to network, learn, and discover the latest innovations in risk management? The organization responsible for bringing it all together is the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS).  And this year they’re bringing it to Boston, MA.

Founded in 1950, RIMS is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to advance the practice of risk management. They represent more than 3,500 industrial, service, nonprofit, charitable, and governmental entities, and they serve more than 10,000 risk management professionals around the world.

And in another week, they’ll be a stone’s throw away during their Annual Conference at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. From April 25-29, you can discover how fellow risk professionals like yourself are taking charge of the current business environment and implementing strategies to take advantage of future opportunities.

Part of the conference is the extensive exhibition hall where you can connect with current providers and meet new ones. Over 400 companies will be exhibiting at RIMS 2010 to showcase there newest products and services. Find out more about this exciting conference and their exhibitors by visiting

And if you do plan to attend, make sure to stop by and visit MEMIC at booth #719!

Maine construction subcontractor law gets an emergency update

Mike_2749 Posted by Michael Bourque

If you attempt to closely follow the laws around subcontractors and workers' compensation, you have been busy. This is an active area in nearly every state in country. It's confusing to some and confounding to many, but it's important. If you misjudge whether or not your relationship with subcontractors actually makes them your employees for purposes of workers' compensation, you can end up paying premium you didn't expect to pay. If your work is closely tied to competitive-bid contracts, this can be a significant problem that won't show up until it's too late to recover your costs.

As we insure nearly 20,000 employers in Maine, we watch these laws closely, and provide input to our elected representatives and regulators where appropriate. Last January, a new law in Maine came into effect regarding subcontractors in the construction industry. In an attempt to close loopholes and the make a level playing field, the new law created a new 12-part test to determine whether a subcontractor should be treated by their general contractor as an employee for purposes of workers' compensation. While the test itself appears to based on good policy, the administration of the new law for those who want to prove that they meet the test (and therefore are not considered the general contractor's employees) was unwieldy and bureaucratic. Not surprisingly, in difficult economic times, it became clear that an unintended hurdle had been placed before the entire industry.

And so, the Legislature asked a group of contractors representatives as well as representatives from the Maine Workers' Compensation Board and from MEMIC, to weigh in with a solution to this problem. The result (LD 1815) was signed into law last week by Governor John Baldacci. As emergency legislation, it took effect immediately.

The new law makes it possible for subcontractors to get "predetermined" by the Maine Workers' Compensation Board to be independent (not employees) under the new law. This predetermination, once approved, would be portable for the subcontractor to use as evidence with the many general contractors with whom the sub may work. It will also be valid for one year, provided the nature of their work and their contractual relationships do not change. The change means that the Maine Workers' Compensation Board can (and now has) provide a form that is considerably less intrusive (the old form asked for three years of tax returns as well as a list of customers).

If you work in the construction industry in Maine, you should keep your eye on this issue.  Whether you're a general contractor or a subcontractor, make sure you know where you stand.  Your insurance agent is a good resource for you. Most insurers will ask that you provide copies of approved predeterminations or certificates of workers' compensation insurance for any of your subcontractors.

To read more about the new law enacted in January, you can got to MEMIC's alert on the issue.  It was mailed in December and has recently been updated.