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demolition of workers comp


Dennis Whedbee's crew was rushing to prepare an oil well for pumping on the Sweet Grass Woman lease site, a speck of dusty plains rich with crude in Mandaree, North Dakota.

It was getting late that September afternoon in 2012. Whedbee, a 50-year-old derrickhand, was helping another worker remove a pipe fitting on top of the well when it suddenly blew.

Hummer limos, go-go dancers, a live alligator and glowing aliens in spandex at the national workers’ comp and disability expo. Journey into the little-known workers’ comp industrial complex.

LAS VEGAS — A scantily clad acrobat dangles from the ceiling, performing flips and splits as machines puff smoke and neon lights bathe the dance floor in turquoise and magenta. Dancers in lingerie gyrate on poles to the booming techno. Actors dressed as aliens pose for selfies with partygoers. There’s an open bar and waiters weave through the crowd passing out chocolate truffles.

 

The state is trying to streamline its workers’ compensation system, but critics say wholesale changes are needed.

Bonnie Chan’s struggles with Hawaii’s workers’ compensation program began in 2012 when she was a recreational therapist at Hawaii State Hospital.

Chan was in the gym helping to set up a volleyball game when a spiked ball smacked her on the right side of the face, injuring her neck and jaw and giving her a concussion.


It’s clear that American workers are stressed out. In a recent study of 2,000 workers by Paychex, more than 80% admitted at least one stressful point in their work life. And on a scale of one to five, 42% of these workers also admitted their stress level was at a three – while 26% rated their stress as a four.

What’s causing American workers such high levels of stress? Overly complicated work, long hours and lack of control top the list of stressors. While vacation may seem like the obvious answer to help rid stress and give workers a much needed break, over 662 million vacation days went unused in 2016.

 

Joel Ramirez climbs back into his wheelchair with the help of Francisco Guardado, a home health aide, at his home in Rialto, Calif. Ramirez was paralyzed from the waist down in 2009 when a 900-pound crate fell on him at a warehouse. Changes to California workers' compensation laws have impacted his quality of care.

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