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General Blog

Ever had to suffer the consequences of a bad hire?

A new study by finds that 69 percent of employers say bad hires lower productivity, affect worker morale and even result in legal issues.

Bad hires are also costly: 41 percent of companies estimate such hires cost them more than $25,000 individually, and a quarter put the cost at more than $50,000.

So, why make such a hire, you might ask? CareerBuilder found 38 percent of employers said they needed to fill the job quickly, 21 percent simply didn’t know enough about the employee before hiring him or her and 11 percent didn’t check references.

“The more thoroughly the candidates are vetted, the less likely they will be a poor match,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. (Was that a collective “Duh!” we just heard?).

In addition to the impact on productivity and employee morale, bad hires also can damage relationships with clients, according to 22 percent of respondents.

Finally, most bad hires have the same thing in common, according to more than 60 percent of respondents: They fail to produce quality work, they don’t work well with others, they don’t show up for work, and they simply have bad attitudes.

This is one of the newest synthetic products on the market sold or advertised as an “enhanced plant vitamin” with the “not-intended-for-human-consumption” label on the packaging. One of the primary ingredients in Pump-It is Geranamine, also known as Methylhexanamine, which is an amphetamine-related stimulant and decongestant found naturally in the geranium plant. Methylhexanamine hasn’t been widely studied and isn’t listed as an illegal substance under U.S. law. It’s unknown what exact components manufacturers are putting into synthetic drugs like Pump-It, which highlights once more the danger products like these pose to the general population.

Users have reported these products produce effects similar to other banned substances. More specifically, signs and symptoms associated with Pump-It use are consistent with effects seen in stimulant and hallucinogen drugs: Increased heart rate and body temperature, dilated pupils, sensory distortions and psychotic symptoms. The high this product produces will usually last 4-6 hours with some reports claiming highs lasting up to 12 hours, depending on the dosage taken. This product can be snorted, injected or smoked, and the onset of effects may be delayed which may lead to taking more of the contents and increasing the chances of negative effects. Pump-It has been sold at gas stations, convenience stores, novelty shops and on the Internet, and appears to be most popular in the Midwest states. Pump-It is usually packaged in a 500 mg or 1000 mg tin container and costs

Anti-energy drinks are products that produce the opposite effect of an energy drink, like Red Bull. These drinks may be suggestive of another homemade drink, which was popular in the southern U.S. among teens and young adults known as “Purple Drank,” a recreational drink mixture. Purple Drank was a mixture of cough syrup, Sprite and Jolly Ranchers candy. The codeine in the cough syrup was the underlying depressant and lure of the mixture. Commercial bottlers have now produced non-codeine based legal drinks like Sippin Syrup and other anti-energy drinks (e.g. Drank, Unwind, Mary Janes Relaxation Soda), which are sold at convenience stores and online and are often advertised as an “Extreme Relaxation Beverage.” These products contain sedating-type ingredients, such as melatonin, valerian root extract and kava kava.
Anti-energy drinks are typically sold as a dietary supplement rather than a beverage since ingredients like melatonin and kava kava aren’t FDA approved food additives. Users of such products have reported effects similar to alcohol intoxication or cold medication/syrup. Additionally, anti-energy drinks often carry warning labels with verbiage stating “This product may cause drowsiness … Not recommended more than 2 servings within a 24-hour period … avoid driving or operating heavy equipment after use.” The manufactures of Sippin Syrup also sell a dessert-style brownie called 1/2 Baked Brownzz. It contains the same ingredients as the Sippin Syrup drink. Although these products have no illegal ingredients, reports in the general population indicate they may be abused by young people in a manner similar to cough syrup or cold medicines.

“It became a love and, therefore, began to compete for my love with my wife and my daughters.”

George W. Bush on alcohol


Kids, from the mouth of the guy who once got so high he set himself on fire, these are just some examples of why you shouldn’t do drugs. Or go anywhere near elephants.

Richard Prior


Words are the most powerful drugs used by mankind.

Rudyard Kipling


The human mind is capable of excitement without the application of gross and violent stimulants; and he must have a very faint perception of its beauty and dignity who does not know this.

William Wordsworth


“Drugs are a waste of time. They destroy your memory and your self-respect and everything that goes along with your self-esteem.

Kurt Cobain


“Dope never helped anybody sing better or play music better or do anything better. All dope can do for you is kill you – and kill you the long, slow, hard way.”

Billy Holiday


Most of the shadows of life come from your own self blocking the sun.

James Pickett


In three words I can sum up everything I have learned about life: It goes on.

Robert Frost

A set back is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.

Henry Ford


I wish all teenagers can filter through songs instead of turning to drugs and alcohol.

Taylor Swift


“Once you’ve seen a solution to the disease that’s tearing you apart, relapsing is never fun.”

Anthony Kiedis


“There’s a phrase, “the elephant in the living room”, which purports to describe what it’s like to live with a drug addict, an alcoholic, an abuser. People outside such relationships will sometimes ask, “How could you let such a business go on for so many years? Didn’t you see the elephant in the living room?” And it’s so hard for anyone living in a more normal situation to understand the answer that comes closest to the truth; “I’m sorry, but it was there when I moved in. I didn’t know it was an elephant; I thought it was part of the furniture.” There comes an aha-moment for some folks – the lucky ones – when they suddenly recognize the difference.”

Stephen King


“I think if you were Satan and you were settin around tryin to think up somethin that would just bring the human race to its knees what you would probably come up with is narcotics.”

Cormac McCarthy, N


“O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains!”

William Shakespeare


“The idea that creative endeavor and mind-altering substances are entwined is one of the great pop-intellectual myths of our time.”

Stephen King


“Drugs, what a devil-inspired poison! It’s death on the installment plan.”

David Wilkerson


“When I look into your eyes all I can see is a soulless silhouette of a person who found happiness in being a pincushion.”

Michael Kloss


“Drug addicts are so funny that way. Just spinning around, lost in their own little world. Doing so much, accomplishing so little. How sad.”

James St. James


“Money is my drug of choice–and you can’t make money if you’re always stoned or high.

Trish Jackson


“Don’t kid yourself by saying that one time can’t make you addicted. It can. I believed it couldn’t too when I first tried meth. I was so, so wrong. The worst part about it is that you won’t realize what has happened immediately afterwards. Addiction is a gradual process and it doesn’t happen overnight. But trust me when I tell you that one time is all that it takes to set this into motion. It can and it will.”

Ashly Lorenzana


Preventing Drug Abuse among Children and Adolescents


These principles are intended to help parents, educators, and community come together on prevention programs in their community. It is important to realize that it takes a combination of effort from parents, schools, and the community to effectively keep children and adolescents drug-free. When followed, these principles are proven to drastically reduce the chances of children and adolescents getting involved with substance abuse.



Risk Factors and Protective Factors

PRINCIPLE 1 – Prevention programs should enhance protective factors and reverse or reduce risk factors.

  • The risk of becoming a drug abuser is affected by risk factors (such as deviant attitudes and behaviors, exposure to drug use, and dysfunctional families) and protective factors (such as parental support, academic success, and anti-drug education).
  • Risk and protective factors change with age. For example, risk factors within the family have greater impact on a younger child, while association with drug-abusing peers may be a more significant risk factor for an adolescent.
  • Addressing risk factors (such as aggressive behavior and poor self-control) early is much more successful than having to re-direct a child away from problems and toward positive behaviors later in life.
  • Risk and protective factors have a different effect depending on a person’s age, gender, ethnicity, culture, and environment.


PRINCIPLE 2 – You need to talk to kids about all forms of drug abuse, including the underage use of legal drugs (such as tobacco or alcohol); the use of illegal drugs (such as marijuana or heroin); and the inappropriate use of legally obtained substances (such as inhalants), prescription medications, or over-the-counter drugs.

PRINCIPLE 3 – You need to talk to kids about the types of drug abuse problems in the local community, try to reduce risk factors (such as helping to get drug dealers off the streets), and try to strengthen protective factors (such as community programs).

PRINCIPLE 4 – Try to help your community focus prevention programs on risks specific to your community’s population, such as age, gender, and ethnicity – it doesn’t help to focus efforts on middle aged users if most of the drug problem in your community is among teenagers.


Prevention Planning


Family Involvement

PRINCIPLE 5 – Enhancing family bonding and relationships is a strong substance abuse preventive measure.  Improving parenting skills also helps keep kids drug-free. Being supportive of your children can go a long way toward improving their self image, which will also help them stay drug-free.  Parents need to develop, discuss, and enforce family policies on substance abuse.  They also need to become educated about drugs and drug abuse and pass this information on to their kids. This can open opportunities for family discussions about legal and illegal drugs. Parents need to take the time to monitor what their kids are doing.  They need to set reasonable rules and watch to see that they are followed.  They need to praise good behavior and provide moderate, consistent discipline, when needed, to enforce the rules.

School Programs

PRINCIPLE 6 – Check to see if your child’s preschool addresses risk factors for drug abuse, such as aggressive behavior, poor social skills, and academic difficulties. Also, pre-school aged children should hear an initial anti-drug message. It’s never to early to start addressing both sides of this issue.

PRINCIPLE 7 – Check to see if your child’s elementary school is taking steps to improve academic and social-emotional learning, addressing risk factors such as early aggression, academic failure, and school dropout. The school should help children develop self-control, emotional awareness, communication skills, and social problem-solving skills. They should also provide academic support, especially in reading.


PRINCIPLE 8 – Check to see if your child’s Middle School and High School is helping students increase academic and social competence.  The school should help children develop good study habits, communication, peer relationships, and drug resistance skills. They should continue to provide academic support as needed, teach children to be self-sufficient and assertive in resisting drugs, reinforce anti-drug attitudes, and help children strengthen their personal commitment against drugs.



Community Programs

PRINCIPLE 9 – Encourage your child’s Middle School and High School to provide targeted prevention programs for 6th and 9th grade students. Prevention programs in these critical transition periods can produce beneficial effects even among high-risk families and children. Such programs do not single out risk populations, so they reduce labeling and encourage bonding to school and community.

PRINCIPLE 10 – Educate yourself and provide a similar message to your children in these transition periods. Prevention programs that combine two or more effective programs, such as family-based and school-based programs, are more effective than a single program alone.

PRINCIPLE 11 – Help your community to coordinate their efforts to provide the same types of messages in different settings, such as in schools, clubs, faith-based organizations, and the media. Anti-drug efforts are most effective when they present consistent, fact-based messages throughout the community.


Prevention Program Delivery

PRINCIPLE 12 – Although it is recommended that communities tailor drug prevention programs to match the needs and threats in that community, it is critical to retain the core elements of the drug prevention program. These include the structure (how the program is organized and constructed), the content (the information, skills, and strategies of the program), and the delivery (how the program is adapted, implemented, and evaluated).


PRINCIPLE 13 – Prevention programs must be an on-going effort, with repeated exposure and education to reinforce the original prevention message. Research shows that the benefits from elementary school and middle school prevention programs diminish without follow-up programs in middle school and high school, respecitvely.

PRINCIPLE 14 – Prevention programs should include teacher training on good classroom management practices, such as rewarding appropriate student behavior. Such techniques help to foster students’ positive behavior, achievement, academic motivation, and school bonding.

PRINCIPLE 15 – Prevention programs are most effective when they employ interactive techniques, such as peer discussion groups and parent role-playing, that allow for active involvement in learning about drug abuse and reinforcing skills.

PRINCIPLE 16 – Research-based prevention programs can be cost-effective. Similar to earlier research, recent research shows that for each dollar invested in prevention, a savings of up to $10 in treatment for alcohol or other substance abuse can be seen.




Note: This is a highly abbreviated version of the original text for “Preventing Drug Abuse among Children and Adolescents”.  The original document, with explanations, charts, references and suggested resources, is more technical and goes on for over 20 pages.  If you would like to look at the full document, go to the web site below and follow the links.

Statement on recent Marijuana Legalization Ballot Initiative


Recently, Colorado and Washington state voters passed historic measures to legalize marijuana for recreational use by adults.

By approving Amendment 64, Colorado became the first state to end marijuana prohibition in the United States. Amendment 64 was passed with a 53 to 47 percent margin. The ramifications will be closely watched throughout the country as federal law remains unchanged defining marijuana as an illegal drug.


Meanwhile, Washington state voters passed Initiative 502 which regulates and taxes sales of small amounts of marijuana for adults. Under the soon-to-be implemented Washington state law, adults in the state may now possess up to an ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana products and 72 ounces of liquid infused marijuana products. The initiative passed with a 55 to 45 percent margin.

Because of the obvious conflict between the federal Controlled Substance Abuse Act and the new Washington and Colorado laws, we can expect more developments shortly as these newly authorized state-regulated marijuana markets begin to take shape. Although the Administration (e.g., the Attorney General, etc.) remained silent on the marijuana-legalization initiative throughout the election cycle, it has opposed legalization in the past.

A legal challenge to the Washington and Colorado laws is expected.


How does this affect employers? Neither initiative changes the ability of employers to maintain their current employment policies, nor does it prevent them from creating whatever policies they see fit. If employers do not currently allow off-site marijuana use by employees, they can continue to prohibit it. Neither requires employers to accommodate the use of marijuana by their employees.  A recent Washington State Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Teletech, clearly stated that Washington State employers didn’t even have to accommodate workers with a doctor’s authorization to use marijuana under Washington’s Medical Use of Marijuana Act (MUMA).


Does this affect your current drug testing policy? No. The drug testing that your company and millions of employers around the world have been doing for decades was never based on the assumption that the user was doing something illegal under a criminal law – instead it has always been based on SAFETY and the efficiency of your workforce. No one who has failed an employment drug test has been reported to the police or charged criminally. Nothing changes after I-502 or Amendment 64 as far as workplace drug testing. You may be interested in reading this synopsis and legal review “Don’t Fear The Reefer: Legalization of Marijuana To Have Little Effect on WA Employers


Here are some additional reasons why you should continue prohibiting the use of marijuana and continue drug testing for marijuana (THC):

1. If you are subject to the federal drug testing requirements – nothing has changed. The Dept. of Transportation, Department of Defense, Department of Energy drug testing programs still require that you prohibit the use of marijuana and continue to test for marijuana.

2. If you have or want to be eligible to receive federal contracts or grants, the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 still applies to you – and this includes most state and local government agencies, school districts, etc. This Act requires that your written policy must prohibit ALL illicit drug use as defined by the federal Controlled Substance Act. There is no exception for “medical marijuana” or any other marijuana use. The Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989, declares that colleges or schools that allow illegal drugs on campus face the possibility of losing federal funding. Many different states have similar laws which will apply to you if you want to work or do business in those states.

3. Smoking pot doubles the risk of serious crashes.“Cannabis consumption – Motor Vehicle Collision Risk”

4. Because you are concerned about liability and risk management, you are probably aware of various courts and Supreme Court decisions that say an “employer can be held liable in such cases if it failed a duty to prevent foreseeable injury”.  So, since everyone knows that marijuana use can severely impair, if you allow these people to work at your company or on your job sites, expect to be held responsible for injuries, accidents, and deaths that they cause – basically it’s the same logic as to why you don’t let someone work under the influence of alcohol, even though alcohol is a legal drug.

There’s a reason that prescription drugs are intended to be taken under the direction of a doctor: if used improperly they can be dangerous. Teens are making the decision to abuse prescription medicines based on misinformation. In fact, many people think that abusing prescription drugs is safer than abusing illicit drugs. As the facts will tell you, prescription drugs can have dangerous short- and long-term health consequences when used incorrectly or by someone other than for whom they were intended.

Prescription drug abuse is when someone takes a medication that was prescribed for someone else or takes their own prescription in a manner or dosage other than what was prescribed. Abuse can include taking a friend’s or relative’s prescription to get high, to treat pain, or because you think it will help with studying.

Opioids (such as the pain relievers OxyContin and Vicodin), central nervous system depressants (e.g., Xanax, Valium), and stimulants (e.g., Concerta, Adderall) are the most commonly abused prescription drugs. Drugs available without a prescription—also known as over-the-counter drugs—can also be abused. DXM (dextromethorphan), the active cough suppressant found in many over-the-counter cough and cold medications, is one example. It is sometimes abused to get high, which requires large doses (more than what is on the package instructions) that can be dangerous.

Among youth who are 12 to 17 years old, 7.4 percent reported past-year nonmedical use of prescription medications. According to the 2011 Monitoring the Future survey, prescription and over-the-counter drugs are among the most commonly abused drugs by 12th graders, after alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco. Youth who abuse prescription medications are also more likely to report use of other drugs.

Many people think that abusing prescription drugs is safer than abusing illicit drugs like heroin because the manufacturing of prescription drugs is regulated or because they are prescribed by doctors. That’s true, but it doesn’t mean that these drugs are safe for someone who was not prescribed the drug or when they are taken in ways other than as prescribed.

Prescription drugs can have powerful effects in the brain and body, and they act on the same brain sites as illicit drugs. Opioid painkillers act on the same sites in the brain as heroin; prescription stimulants have effects in common with cocaine. And people sometimes take the medications in ways that can be very dangerous in both the short and long term (e.g., crushing pills and snorting or injecting the contents). Also, abusing prescription drugs is illegal—and that includes sharing prescriptions with friends.

Originally published by Seacrest Partners


Employers be warned: big changes in workers compensation premiums are coming in 2013. This pending change has been a topic of discussion for months in the insurance community and most agree it is probably the most significant event in workers’ compensation in the last 20 years.

So what’s the big change and who will it impact? First, let’s define the change, then we’ll look at who it will impact.

Defining the Change

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) is revising the formula to calculate experience modifiers, one of the key components in determining workers compensation premiums for most employers. Any employer with at least $10,000 in workers compensation premiums for one policy period or $5,000 for two consecutive policy periods qualifies for an experience modifer. Insurance companies use your experience “mod” as a benchmark to compare your claims experience to that of your industry.

Changing the Split Point

The upcoming formula change involves an increase in the primary loss limit, or “split point”, for each individual claim. One hundred percent of primary losses are used to calculate your experience mod while only a small percentage of the claim costs in excess of the primary amount are included in the calculation. Changing the split point can have a dramatic effect on some mods.

The current primary limit for each claim is $5,000; the new primary limit will be raised to $10,000 in 2013, $13,500 in 2014 and an estimated $17,500 in 2015. Beginning in 2015, the primary limit will be adjusted for claims inflation, retroactive to 2013. In short, your “split point” will more than triple within a three year period.

To put claims dollars in perspective, the average workers compensation claim cost is $8,787. As more claims expenses are included in your mod calculation, the more likely your experience mod will climb and the more you will pay for workers compensation coverage.

The experience mod formula continues to put more emphasis on frequency of claims rather than severity under the premise that re-occurring accidents can be minimized or prevented. Determining how the new formula will affect your company depends on your specific claims experience. Analysts are predicting debit mods (those over 1.0) to increase while credit mods (those under 1.0) will decrease. If many of your claims exceed $5,000, you should prepare for an increase in your mod.

Budgeting for 2013

From a budgeting standpoint, forecasting your 2013 workers compensation costs might be somewhat difficult as the 2013 mods in most states will not be published until sometime this fall.

You can access your experience rating worksheets 60 days prior to your rating effective date at Your insurance broker can help you access this information and project how the new formula will impact your experience mod and future workers compensation premiums.

So what’s the big deal you may be wondering? A higher experience modifier can significantly change your company’s ability to obtain, or even renew, workers compensation coverage. Also, for those in the construction industry or those who contract services to government entities or large corporations, an experience modifier in excess of 1.0 may disqualify your company for future project opportunities. High mods are no laughing matter.

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do in the short term to have a positive impact on your new experience mod as the calculations are based on claims incurred during the 2011, 2010, and 2009 policy years (not 2012).

In the long-term; however, you can have a positive impact on your experience modifier by paying attention to some basic risk management principles:

  • Review your hiring policies to make sure you recruit the best possible employees for the position.
  • Work with your insurer to create a qualified physicians panel.
  • Study your claims trends to identify areas where safety procedures can be improved.
  • Conduct post-accident investigations to prevent/minimize re-occurrences.
  • Implement a return-to-work program for injured employees.
  • Work with adjusters to close claims as quickly as possible.

Talk with your insurance broker to find out how the new experience rating formula will impact your firm in 2013. Do the math and be prepared for changes in 2013.

The NCCI Experience Modification (E-mod) formula is being changed for the first time since 1992. This change will affect every account a bit differently. In a nutshell, the financial stakes for managing your E-mod have been tripled. Until now, the first $5,000 of each claim hurt you the most. It is quickly being transitioned to the first $15,000 of each claim will hurt at that same rate of an average penalty of $2.50 for each dollar of claim going into your formula up to the first $15,000. So, a $15,000 claim will increase your Worker’s Compensation costs by $37,500 over the 3 years it affects your mod.