The Weekly Wrap

Small businesses are “under the influence,” a former NY workers comp boss moves companies and a major insurer head retires.

Workers Comp


One in 10 small business employees worked while “under the influence” last year, according to a new study from workers compensation carrier EMPLOYERS.  

Alcohol, marijuana and prescription painkillers were among the most commonly abused substances, with alcohol viewed as the “most dangerous” substance by small business employers. However, to EMPLOYERS Chief Operating Officer Stephen Festa, prescription painkillers may be the bigger issue.

“To those of us in the workers’ compensation insurance industry, prescription opioid abuse is of particular concern,” Festa said. “The Centers for Disease Control has reported that more people die from prescription painkillers than from heroin or cocaine. Opioid addiction has been linked to decreased worker productivity, as well as making workplaces less safe, prolonging disability claims and increasing the risk of death from overdoses.”

Allianz’s chief general manager of sales and distribution Jonathan Poole will retire December 31, after 14 years with the insurer.

Poole was originally hired to develop the organization’s e-business capabilities but his role quickly expanded to assume responsibility for the financial institutions division and ultimately sales and distribution activities for the company.

Commenting on Poole’s intention to retire, managing director Niran Peiris said: “Jonathan has made a significant contribution to the success of the Allianz business. Jonathan’s professionalism, drive and deep understanding of the complexities of the insurance business is widely recognized and respected across the insurance industry.”

Former Chief Auditor of the New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board, Gary Sanford, joined SMP Consulting Group this week. He will serve as director of premium audit for the consulting firm.

“Gary Sandford adds enormous value to the firm and our clients,” said SMP Consulting Group Edward Kelly. “He was a senior official with one of the most important official boards to our business, setting ratings that determine workers’ compensation premiums in one of the largest states in the nation.”

During his 34-year career with NYCIRB, Sandford oversaw all workers’ compensation statistics, which were compiled and evaluated to propose rate changes for the state.

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