Issue 134 – April 2023
Register today for a totally rad educational experience at the California JPIA’s 28th Annual Risk Management Educational Forum, titled It’s Like, Totally Risk Management, August 30–September 1, 2023, at the Omni La Costa Resort in Carlsbad.
The Forum is a premier educational event that provides two and a half days of educational opportunities, including panel presentations, networking, and a keynote speech from Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton. Hamilton will share his experience of persevering even when obstacles’ shadows loom large as a figure skater, commentator, producer, cancer survivor, and activist.
Experience this event with your agency’s besties and connect with other attendees. Registration is at no cost to members.
Forum Scholarship Opportunity
The Authority offers a limited number of lodging scholarships for those unable to attend the Forum due to a lack of agency funding. Preference may be given to first-time attendees; however, all are encouraged to apply. Those selected for a scholarship will receive two nights of lodging at the Omni La Costa Resort.Print Article
The public health crisis that is the opioid addiction epidemic remains a threat to communities throughout California. In 2017, in an effort to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with opioid overdose, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a statewide standing order permitting community organizations and other entities to obtain and distribute naloxone (Narcan), a life-saving medication used to reverse an opioid overdose, without a prescription.
A large-scale nationwide study found that states with legislation granting broad access to naloxone reduced opioid overdose mortality by 14 percent. Another study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy found that high rates of naloxone distribution among laypeople and emergency personnel could prevent 21 percent of opioid overdose deaths. The same study concluded that most overdose death reduction is attributable to the increased distribution of naloxone to laypeople and emergency personnel.
“There is little risk associated with supplying naloxone to employees who may come into contact with individuals experiencing an opioid overdose,” said Senior Risk Manager Melaina Francis. “The opioid epidemic public health crisis requires a response such as permitting local government employees to carry naloxone and administer it when necessary. The Authority encourages member agencies to take advantage of the CDPH standing order and ensure a written policy regarding naloxone use is implemented.”
Francis said that the liability exposure for the Authority’s member agencies is minimal because naloxone has no effect if unintentionally administered to an individual without opioids in their system. Also, Good Samaritan and other California laws protect individuals who act in good faith to assist someone experiencing a medical emergency.
Despite this, members should be selective about which employees can carry naloxone. The Authority recommends that public safety, public works, community services, and any other employee who may reasonably come into contact with individuals who are unhoused or experiencing opioid addiction be permitted to carry naloxone.
“In Duarte, we currently permit public safety field officers, including code enforcement, animal control, and outreach coordinators, to carry Narcan and have already experienced success stories with its use,” explained City of Duarte Public Safety Manager Larry Breceda.
Breceda also mentioned that the LA County Sheriff’s Department permits deputies to carry Narcan. He then shared that in November 2022, Temple Station sheriff deputies successfully saved the lives of two unresponsive teenagers suspected of overdosing on fentanyl. The teenagers, who were found in Duarte, were administered Narcan and first aid/CPR.
He also shared details of an event where two transients came into contact with a large amount of fentanyl and overdosed, prompting field officers to administer Narcan to save their lives.
California JPIA members, whether currently permitting or exploring the use of naloxone, can contact their regional risk manager for assistance with developing a written policy. The Authority is also creating a policy template outlining who in the agency is authorized to receive, store, monitor, and distribute naloxone and report on its usage. The policy should also address frequency and documentation of training, appropriate storage, procedures for issuing naloxone to authorized staff, reporting procedures, and sample forms to appropriately document any dose distributed or administered by staff per the CDPH standing order requirements.
The Authority also recommends that a public safety director, human resources, or risk manager be responsible for ensuring that the member’s program is and remains compliant once approved and implemented.
To take advantage of the CDPH standing order, members must first apply, then provide training to affected employees. The CDPH offers a training video that can be used to meet this requirement. Local fire departments may also provide training. Francis noted that training should be documented and performed periodically (i.e., every 1-3 years).
Members should also know that obtaining naloxone requires another application through the Naloxone Distribution Project (NDP). This requires a prescription or participation in a standing order through the CDPH.
Members looking for more information on naloxone, the CDPH standing order, or the NDP can visit the California Department of Public Health website.
 McClellan, C., et al., Opioid-overdose laws association with opioid use and overdose mortality. Addictive Behaviors, 2018. 86: p. 90-95.
 Townsend, T., et al., Cost-effectiveness analysis of alternative naloxone distribution strategies: First responder and lay distribution in the United States. International Journal of Drug Policy, 2019.Print Article
The California JPIA is hosting a Risk Managers Roundtable about Code Enforcement Officer Safety Standards on Tuesday, May 9, from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. The roundtable, geared toward code enforcement supervisors, human resources managers, and above, will be held in person at the Authority campus, 8081 Moody Street, La Palma, CA, 90623.
Code enforcement officers are tasked with enforcing public health and safety laws in cities throughout California. Their enforcement duties include a broad range of laws covering everything from homelessness to substandard housing, mold and lead, pest and animal control, and many other situations in which they face threats, risks, and hazards.
State law (Senate Bill 296) requires all public agencies that employ a code enforcement officer to adopt safety standards specific to code enforcement officers that appropriately address their safety exposures. This roundtable will be highly interactive, so please be prepared to share your ideas, thoughts, or questions. Join Authority staff and engage in the conversation on issues including:
- The wide range of code enforcement officers’ duties and a public agency’s potential liability
- Occupational hazards
- Compliance with SB 296 to include examples
- Best risk management practices
- Narcan, bulletproof vests, and other code enforcement officer safety considerations
- Negotiation considerations with bargaining units
California JPIA senior risk managers and training staff will host the roundtable, which includes the following panelists:
- Algeria Ford, Partner, Burke, Williams, and Sorensen
- Matthew Silver, Managing Partner, Civica Law Group
- Larry Breceda, Public Safety Manager, City of Duarte
There is no cost to attend this event, and those interested in attending must register prior to the event. If you have a disability and need accommodation to participate, please email the California JPIA training division within two business days of the training date. Members can learn more about the roundtable and register here.Print Article
The California JPIA will host its next Workers’ Compensation Webinar on Thursday, May 11, at 11:00 a.m. Attendees will learn about some of the challenges they and their employees may face with long COVID.
The webinar presenter will be Dr. Austin Apramian, a Board-Certified Internal Medicine Specialist and Co-Medical Director at St. George’s Medical Clinic in Pasadena. Dr. Apramian and the team at St. George’s provide treatment to many Southern California municipalities, including several Authority members.
In addition to his education at the Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific in Pomona, Dr. Apramian brings a unique skill set to the treatment of COVID. When the World Health Organization officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic in March 2020, Dr. Apramian was actively working on the frontlines in the ICU at Adventist Health White Memorial Hospital. In early 2021, he served as the medical provider overseeing the emergency COVID-19 vaccination program at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He has since transitioned to an outpatient setting at St. George’s Medical Clinic, where he treats various COVID-related illnesses. This has allowed Dr. Apramian to develop a comprehensive understanding of treating this unprecedented viral illness.
We look forward to having you join us on May 11. Register here. For those unavailable to attend the live webinar, a recording will be available on the Authority’s website. For any questions, please contact Jeff Rush, workers’ compensation program manager.Print Article
The Authority Expands Mental Health Services to Member Police and Fire Departments by Leveraging CordicoBy Management Analyst Abraham Han and Senior Risk Manager Tim Karcz
Law enforcement officers, firefighters, dispatchers, and other public safety personnel handle our communities’ most high-risk, urgent, and dangerous events. In addition to the risk of physical injury and personal safety and security, the job carries the constant potential for mental health-related issues. The California JPIA recognizes this as a growing concern for its members with police and fire services. With the mounting costs of mental health claims and the ever-increasing toll on employee well-being and operational readiness, the Authority encourages its members to prioritize mental wellness through effective Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and other avenues like technological and digital resources.
To assist members with police and fire services, the Authority has partnered with Lexipol’s wellness technology solutions, CordicoShield and CordicoFire. Cordico’s mental health and wellness app leverages smartphone technology to provide personalized and anonymous mental health and wellness services specifically for law enforcement and fire personnel and their families. Cordico is a part of Lexipol, which offers first-responding agencies essential policy insights, training programs, and timely content to enable them to serve their communities best.
The wellness app provides a confidential and anonymous way for police and fire staff to access support on various topics such as emotional health, depression, and stress management. The app also provides access to peer support and therapists vetted to understand the needs of those serving in a police or fire department. The app can also be uniquely designed for each police or fire department, which includes the ability to brand the app with the department seal. The app is also customizable, so department-specific content and forms can be added.
The Authority’s implementation of the wellness app program represents a partnership with its members as much as it is a partnership with Cordico. Moving forward, the Authority will reimburse up to 25% of the program’s annual cost (up to $10,000) through reimbursement.
The CordicoShield/CordicoFire wellness and mental health app is downloadable through your smartphone. It aims to enable police and fire staff and their families to seek services without fear of tracking or oversight. The app is intended to anonymously provide individuals with the help they need while looking to address and reduce the number of each department’s workers’ compensation claims.
A handful of the Authority’s members have already utilized Cordico and obtained partial reimbursement from the Authority. If your agency has a police or fire department interested in implementing CordicoShield or CordicoFire, please contact your regional risk manager.Print Article
Periodically, the Authority updates its resource library, including existing and newly developed resources. Below are some recent updates.
The Injury Investigation and Root Cause Tools assist members with identifying the root cause of industrial injuries or illnesses and includes the “Five Why’s.” The tools also include an injury or illness control failure and root cause diagram, and supervisor’s and employee’s report forms of injury or illness. The Authority collects this information with the goal of reducing the frequency and severity of losses by conclusively identifying the root cause of industrial injuries or illnesses. This resource update was made available to members in February.
The Temporary Modified or Light Duty Assignments and Return to Work Program includes a template policy, return to work program, and offer memorandum. The resource also contains procedures that address an employee’s industrial or non-industrial temporary assignment to modified or light duty and was made available to members in April.
The Workers’ Compensation Guidelines and Forms were updated and made available to members in April. These guidelines and various forms address workers’ compensation claims, including recordkeeping, first aid claims, three-point contact, salary continuation, physician pre-designation, off-duty recreational activities, and other common questions.
These resources can be accessed and downloaded in the library section of the Authority’s website, cjpia.org. Resources available in Word format allow members to customize them to reflect agency-specific policies and procedures.
If you have any questions, please contact your regional risk manager.Print Article
While April is designated as Distracted Driving Awareness Month by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Safety Council, this is a subject that members should focus on year-round to ensure the safety of employees and the public. The annual designation of April as Awareness Month is an effort to recognize and eliminate preventable deaths from distracted driving.
Automobile accidents involving a member driver represent a total cost to the Authority over the last six years of $30.2 million ($5 million per year on average). Below is a breakdown of the claims, by program, over the last six years.
The liability programs have experienced 1,457 claims (243 per year on average) for accidents involving a member driver.
- This represents 19 percent of pool-wide liability claim frequency.
- The total severity for these claims is $14.8 million ($2.5 million per year), representing 8 percent of pool-wide liability claim severity.
- The average cost of these claims is $10,158.
In the workers’ compensation program, 224 injuries (37 per year on average) involving a member driver have occurred.
- This represents 1.4 percent of pool-wide workers’ compensation claim frequency.
- The total severity for these claims is $11.2 million ($1.9 million per year on average), representing 7.5 percent of total severity.
- The average cost of these claims is $50,000.
The property program has experienced 548 auto-physical damage losses during this period.
- 91 per year on average, with a total severity of $4.2 million.
- With an average cost of $7,664 per claim.
Members are advised to review their vehicle use policies to ensure they are up-to-date, effective, and being followed. Preventable, reoccurring accidents occur at an agency if the vehicle use policy is not enforced. Risk management and human resources personnel should review all accidents to determine whether an accident was preventable or non-preventable and should be involved when making disciplinary recommendations. Managers and supervisors should also look at behaviors that cause near events, evaluate what happened, and use the information during safety tailgate meetings and coaching of employees. Furthermore, supervisors should routinely monitor employees’ driving while performing their job-related driving responsibilities. Reviewing accident and near-event history as part of employee performance evaluations is also suggested. Managers and supervisors should report all accidents to risk management and human resources.
Many member agencies also evaluate the driving record of prospective employees and volunteers by requiring them to provide a current Driving Record/Motor Vehicle Report. This allows the member to determine whether prospective employees and volunteers have good driving histories before extending an offer to those individuals where driving would be a job or volunteer function. Many members also enroll employees and volunteers who drive on agency business in the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Pull Notice Program, which allows members to monitor driver’s license records of employees driving on the organization’s behalf. The monitoring helps improve public safety, determines whether a driver has a valid driver’s license, identifies problem drivers or driving behavior, and helps minimize an agency’s liability.
To assist in this area, the California JPIA recently launched Embark Safety as a new member resource for motor vehicle report monitoring. The Embark monitoring platform features include 24/7/365 web-based access to DMV driver record information, real-time motor vehicle record (MVR) notifications, driver color-coding to reduce the time spent evaluating driving records, violation decoding, driver management, and pre-employment MVR checks. The program is funded as a pooled cost, with no direct, out-of-pocket expenses.
Some members have also moved toward installing GPS tracking and speed control systems in agency-owned vehicles. Some private companies include cameras in company vehicles and have observed self-correcting of driver behavior in many instances. Any measures or policies being considered for implementation at a member agency should be discussed with risk management, human resources, and legal counsel.
The California JPIA offers an instructor-led Driver Safety course and a Safe Driving and Safe Driving of Commercial Vehicles – eLearning refresher training. For more information, contact the training division. Other resources available in the resource library include a vehicle use policy template, vehicle use documents, and vehicle inspection checklists. In addition, the policy template provides procedures for using agency-owned and privately-owned vehicles operated during agency business. Vehicle use documents include witness and information exchange cards, driver’s reports of accidents/incidents, and vehicle cards that establish proof of liability coverage for agency-owned vehicles.
A way to effect change is to set a personal example. This includes executives, managers, and supervisors. Member agencies should have a culture of safety, not fear, to have an effective vehicle use and agency-wide safety program. Safe driving is possible with proper awareness, training, and action. If you have any questions, contact your regional risk manager.Print Article
April is Earth Month, and the Authority would like to take a moment to recognize and thank our members who have organized earth day activities. These activities include tree and shrub plantings that have beautified communities and helped mitigate the effects of climate change.
Many of our agencies have dealt with the effects of climate change, including drought, hillside collapse, wildfires, and, most recently, flooding from the onslaught of rain this winter. These events can cause significant property damage, infrastructure damage, economic losses, and insurance increases. Overall, climate change is a substantial threat to our way of life. Taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change benefits our members, their residents and businesses, and the earth.
One action members can take is planting trees. When our members take the time to plant trees and reduce the effects of soil erosion, they are enhancing their city’s resilience to severe weather events.
As a reminder, the California JPIA offers a tree inspection and maintenance policy template. This template contains guidelines to reduce public agency exposure to liability associated with trees, protect trees, and maintain trees’ public benefits, including improved air quality, reduced stormwater flow, habitat for wildlife, and reduced heat island effect. The template, available electronically in the library at cjpia.org, is accessible in Microsoft Word format so that members can make agency-specific modifications. For more information, members can contact their regional risk manager.
Thank you to all the agencies participating in Earth Month and Arbor Day activities.Print Article
CalPERS Requires Agencies Provide More Information to Support Decisions on Local Safety Members’ Disability RetirementsBy Michael Youril, Partner; and John Z. LaCrosse, Associate, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore
Originally published on April 19, 2023. Reprinted with permission from Liebert Cassidy Whitmore.
On March 15, 2023, CalPERS issued Circular Letter 200-014-23, setting forth new requirements that contracting agencies must follow when determining whether local safety members are substantially incapacitated from performance of their usual duties for the purposes of a disability retirement. Specifically, under Circular Letter 200-014-23, agencies are now required to submit additional documentation and information to CalPERS, including several newly created CalPERS forms, when certifying an application for disability retirement, industrial disability retirement, and re-evaluation for continuous eligibility for disability retirement.
For context, CalPERS previously required agencies to certify the following information when making a decision regarding a member’s application for disability retirement:
- A statement certifying under penalty of perjury that the agency made the determination based on competent medical opinion.
- A statement certifying under penalty of perjury that the agency did not use the determination as a substitute for the disciplinary process.
- A finding indicating the member’s substantial incapacitation from the performance of their usual duties.
- A statement confirming whether the member filed a Workers’ Compensation claim for their disabling condition(s), and if so, a statement as to whether the claim was accepted.
- A finding by the agency as to whether the member’s incapacity is industrial.
- A statement documenting the member’s last day on payroll.
- A statement as to whether there is the possibility of third-party liability.
- A statement identifying the disability condition(s)/body parts.
- A statement supported by competent medical evidence that the duration of the disabling condition is expected to be permanent, last at least 12 consecutive months, or result in death.
- A statement identifying the monthly amount and beginning date of Advanced Disability Payments, if they have been or will be paid to the member.
Now, in addition to the above requirements, agencies must provide more information to CalPERS regarding the member’s job duties and the medical support for the agency’s decision. For example, agencies must complete a form detailing how often the member performs various physical activities such as interacting with others, lifting weight, sitting, standing, kneeling, and climbing in the course of their employment. The form also requires agencies to indicate if the member has been through the reasonable accommodation process, and if so, requires the agency to submit the reasonable accommodation documentation to CalPERS.
Agencies must also submit a form, signed by a physician, that includes the physician’s findings and diagnosis and answers specific questions regarding whether the member is substantially incapacitated. If the member is found substantially incapacitated, the physician must list the specific job duties the member is unable to perform due to incapacity, and whether the incapacity is permanent or will last longer than 12 months.
In order for CalPERS to process the application, agencies must provide the following forms and documentation:
- Physical Requirements of Position/Occupational Title (Local Safety) form.
- Job duty statement.
- Physician’s Report on Disability (Local Safety) form.
- Worker’s Compensation Carrier Request (Local Safety) form.
- All medical reports used in making the medical determination for Disability Retirement/Industrial Disability Retirement benefits including reevaluation.
- The determination resolution or certification.
All of these requirements are new, except for the determination resolution or certification. The determination resolution or certification must still include the previously required information described in items No. 1-10 above. See the Circular Letter for the required CalPERS forms.
CalPERS states in the Circular Letter that this additional information is necessary to ensure that disability retirement and industrial disability retirement benefits are provided only to eligible members. Additionally, CalPERS notes that the new requirements are necessary to adhere to Government Code sections 21232 and 21233, which in part, provide limitations on employment while a retiree is receiving disability retirement or industrial disability retirement benefits.
CalPERS cites Government Code sections 20221 and 21028 as its authority for implementing these changes. Government Code section 20221 requires agencies provide to CalPERS any information concerning its members that CalPERS may require in the administration of its system. Government Code section 20128 requires that members or beneficiaries provide information that CalPERS deems necessary to determine its liability with respect to an individuals’ entitlement to benefits.
Take-Away for Agencies
Although it is not yet clear how CalPERS intends to use the additional information, CalPERS appears to require this additional information to more closely scrutinize contracting agencies’ decisions regarding local safety members’ disability retirement and industrial disability retirement applications. For example, many agencies rely solely on workers’ compensation reports, which may contain presumptions or prophylactic work restrictions that are inapplicable under the Public Employees’ Retirement Law. Government Code section 21154 provides that contracting agencies, rather than CalPERS, are responsible for determining whether local safety members (other than school safety members) are incapacitated from their duties. It is uncertain if these new requirements will change who decides whether an application is granted or how applications are processed. However, agencies will have to provide additional documentation to CalPERS supporting the underlying application and may have to obtain more independent medical examinations as a result of the changes.Print Article