It’s Halloween, one of my favorite days of the year! My daughters (19 and 20 years) and I love celebrating Halloween. I have always loved a good scary movie. How about you? Do you like to be scared? I particularly like a good ghost story or mystery full of suspense. Interesting to hear what people think and believe about ghosts. There are an awful lot of documented stories of ghosts and haunted structures. Are they all fake or made up? Hmmmmmm. Talking about being scared…enjoy my Halloween #workerscomp blog ensemble…Mwahh, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

Current Industry Trends Area a Fright! There is consistent talk about declining claims rates and increasing claim severity. These trends are worrisome to many folks. Downright frightful to some. Depending on where you are and what you do in the industry, these trends could, in fact be very scary. If what you do depends on a high volume of claims, then you better be sure you are providing amazing service and know what your customers need. No guesswork allowed. You need to know. Read Joe Paduda‘s blog Managed Care Matters. He analyzes the scary stuff and breaks it down into nuts and bolts nuggets. Today Joe’s post included a deep dive into declining claims rates and the data that supports this trend. His post includes an interesting interview with WCRI’s John Ruser about the history of OSHA data.

Chronic Pain Haunts Over 20% of US Population! A recent report published by the CDCindicates that 20.4% or 50 million US adults suffer from chronic pain with 8% or 19.6 million US adults suffering high-impact chronic pain. Both chronic and high-impact chronic pain is more prevalent “…among women, older adults, previously but not currently employed adults, adults living in poverty, adults with public health insurance, and rural residents.” With chronic pain affecting so much of the working population, it continues to be a popular topic in workers’ compensation as it contributes significantly to high medical costs, estimated as high a $635 billion per year, and lost productivity. $635 billion! Let it sink in…we spend more dollars on chronic pain than cancer, heart disease or diabetes. Authors of the report based their estimates on health care costs as well as lost productivity of workers with chronic pain. That’s definitely scream worthy.

Wicked Words Lead to the Zombie Apocolypse. Obviously most people don’t use words with the intention of being wicked. Nevertheless, words can have a very negative impact and could actually play into the concept of catastrophizing, especially to an injured worker who is already scared, anxious and full of dread. Discussion of how important it is for professionals who are directly involved with injured workers to choose words and context carefully has become a popular industry topic. #WordsMatter Friends and colleagues Mark Pew, of Preferred Medical, Brian Conner of American Airlines and Bob Wilson of participated on a panel earlier this month at Comp Laude Awards & Gala titled “Turning the Churn: A Vision for Workers Recovery.” Here is a recent article published by Southern Pain Society to help frame the context of using words wisely: “Catastrophizing and the Meaning of Pain: Why It Matters.”

Haunted Houses are a Risky Business. Witches, zombies and ghouls deserve safe work places too! Frightened guests and audiences should also enjoy being scared out of their minds while in a safe environment. Friend and colleague Bill Zachry, Senior Fellow at the Sedgwick Institute, contributed to this recent article about safety issues inherent in haunted house attractions. Did you know that Americans will spend a record $9 billion on Halloween this year? The problem is, according to the article, that OSHA does not likely get involved unless there is a complaint or accident. However, they can issue a citation for up to six months following an inspection. So, if you are in the business of scaring people, be sure you are in compliance with current safety standards. And don’t tempt the devil with open flames, flashing lights or inadequate emergency exits. The devil is in the details.

And just for fun…some of my Halloween favorites:

  • CDC’s Zombie Preparedness Site — learn how to prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse
  • Favorite Halloween costume: Dia de los Muertos sugar skull face
  • Favorite Halloween movie of all time is Hocus Pocus. I’ve probably watched it 6 times this month.
  • Who doesn’t love Walt Disney’s The Skeleton Dance?
  • Favorite music video of all time Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
  • Favorite Halloween song is Werewolves of London.
  • Have you seen the newer Ghostbusters movie with Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Kristen Wiig? It didn’t get great ratings, but I think they did a good job. Many of the original movie actors made appearances in the movie: Bill Murray, Annie Potts, Dan Akroyd, Ernie Hudson.

What are your favorite Halloween traditions, movies, songs, traditions etc.? Have a safe and happy Halloween! #HappyHalloween #workerscomp

NOTE: this blog post is meant to be playful and in the spirit of the holiday while bringing light to a few important industry issues. It in no way is intended to minimize or be harmful to any person who has suffered a workers’ comp injury.