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XL Catlin Q3-2017 report identifies key factors for emerging risks

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Global insurance company XL Catlin issued their Q3 2017 October report, Emerging risks we’re watching and why, which highlights key factors in emerging risks presented by new state medical marijuana laws in the U.S. and the ongoing North American opioid epidemic.

Of particular note is the marked reduction of the North American workforce as a result of the opioid epidemic. The Federal Reserve has cited the epidemic as one factor negatively affecting the U.S. economy, as workers of “prime age” (mostly men) are either unable or unwilling to find work, and those who have found work but find themselves dependent upon opioids threaten the bottom lines of the companies that employ them.

According to a related study by Catlin:

  • Financial costs associated with current prescribing patterns are not negligible. At a cost of $1.4 billion annually, opioids have become one of the highest cost therapeutic drugs for workers’ compensation injuries. Employers report increasing work injuries, higher absence rates and lower productivity related to the misuse of opioids. Further, opioids and other painkillers raise concerns about safety at the job site and may potentially increase the risk of harm to other workers.
  • Medical marijuana presents a different challenge to HR professionals because of the disconnect between federal and state laws. The report states that ‘US companies and their insurers also face challenges dealing with company drug policies and the legal ramifications’ of employees who use medical marijuana’. An employee who consumes marijuana for medical purposes at his or her place of employment may be in violation of federal drug-free workplace mandates. While the report cites key concerns with legalized marijuana as increased auto claims, employee discrimination suits, and worker’s compensation, they say it is worth noting that there have recently been a number of courts ruling in favor of employee use of medical marijuana where necessary for medical reasons under state law.

The entire report can be found here.

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