‘Dark Meat’ by Gabriel Thompson
Failing to record injuries is one strategy to create the illusion of a safe workplace. Another is to fail to refer workers to doctors for proper tests and diagnoses. Each time an injury causes an employee to miss a day of work or to receive medical treatment beyond first aid, the company is required to record it in an OSHA log book. This data is reported each year to the Department of Labor and is used to identify industries with high injury rates—whose facilities will then face increased inspections. An industry that reports low injury rates is less likely to receive scrutiny from OSHA’s overstretched investigators.
If employers can self-report why can’t employees?
The argument against employee reports would be:
Well, employees will inflate injury rates!
Let’s think about this: employers are already fraudulently minimizing the rates. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s okay for employees to do it, too. It isn’t okay for anyone to massage the numbers in their own favor. But they do, and they will, because self-interest is a helluva drug.
So my thought is that having an inflated employee-reported rate to compare with minimized employer-reported rates may help regulators find the truth, somewhere between the two numbers.
The pressing need for hospital pricing regulation
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has published data on what hospitals charge for the most common procedures. There is much to look at, and other have done good reporting on it, notably Sarah Kliff and Dan Keating at the Washington Post and Barry Meier, Jo Craven McGinty and Julie Creswell at the New York Times.
The bottom line is that hospital pricing practices appear from this data to be arbitrary. I wouldn’t be surprised if pricing flucutated from year to year based on what revenue each hospital brings in. That’s unconscionable, and a failure of the free market in arguably the most important industry. Hospitals and canadian pharmacies would do well to get together and establish transparent and ethical best practices for pricing, because the alternative is onerous regluation to ensure they are not gouging insurance companies, government agencies, and individual patients without regard to actual costs.
NLRB refines position on employee social media and workplace criticism
My personal policy is to refrain from discussing work on social media. In all my years of Twitter-ing and Facebook-ing, I’ve posted only a very few work-related updates, invariably focused on interpersonal minutiae like elevator rudeness. I think it’s just best to leave work at work. However, as the Times‘s Steven Greenhouse reports, the National Labor Relations Board recently ruled that conversational exchanges about working conditions between multiple employees on social media may be construed as the kind of concerted activity protected by the National Labor Relations Act.
The Times story to which I link in this post’s headline mentions at least two instances (here and here1) where the termination of lone complainers was upheld by the NLRB. This ruling suggests that my personal policy is a safe bet: there’s no way to engage in concerted activity if you’re venting alone.