Friday, January 16, 2015


CAVU - ceiling and visibility unlimited.

To a pilot that means two things: unbelievable views and probably a little bit of turbulence.

CAVU means the winds aloft are strong enough to push away any clouds and the moisture that forms them.

In California we get more than our fair share of CAVU days, particularly in the fall and winter when Santana winds originate from high pressure in the Great Basin to bring cold dry air to the region.

Yesterday was CAVU. Climbing off of runway 7, where there's not a lot of room to gain altitude before hitting Camarillo's airspace, I was seeing climb rates of 1,300 to 1,500 feet per minute on the Vertical Speed Indicator - a very healthy rate of climb in a Bonanza A36 with a normally aspirated Continental IO 520 engine! I was well clear of Camarillo Class Delta altitude before I reached the edge of that airspace.

We did a little tail wagging getting to cruise altitude, but nothing out of the ordinary. And cruising through the San Fernando Valley at 5,500 feet was nonchalant.

On the Coastal Route through Los Angeles Class Bravo space, between Santa Monica and Los Angeles airports, though, we had a shake or two. Nothing violent, and certainly predictable given the atmospheric conditions, but enough to wake you up!

The view, however, was astounding. All of the Los Angeles Basin was clear and detailed. And it stretch all the way to the mountains where a white, snow capped Mt. Baldy accentuated the scene.
CAVU yesterday
Once out of Bravo and heading south again the Mexican border and Tijuana was clearly visible, war ships were lined up to get into Long Beach Harbor, and a bit more aerial dancing was experienced passing by the Santa Ana Mountains.

And yesterday the Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California issued a study that, again, reports claims frequency is growing and that Southern California and Greater Los Angeles is the geographic anomaly that is the culprit.

The rest of the nation, and Northern California, continue to see frequency rates (how many work injury claims are filed per 1,000 employees) go down.

California went up zero point nine percent. The rest of the nation (National Council on Compensation Insurance statistics) went down two percent.

The report states that 16.3 out of every 1,000 workers in California filed a workers’ compensation claim in the first nine months of 2014. When frequency is measured per $100 million of exposure, the Los Angeles area saw a 3% increase last year (27.48), while the Bay Area posted a 1.8% reduction in frequency and the rest of the state’s rate fell by 0.6% (13.78).

The theories abound about why this is: more low wage workers in the LA area, economic growth, young workers coming into employment, etc.

Some of the blame is being hurled at the type of claims - cumulative trauma - and those types of claims involve more litigation which means they're more expensive.

From 2007-2010, 72% of cumulative trauma applicants sought legal representation, but from 2012-2013, 80% did.

In 2012, claims payers denied all body parts in 57% of all cumulative trauma claims, compared with a 66% denial rate the next year. In 2012, 37% of those claims were filed post-termination, but in 2013 that number rose to 41%.

The WCIRB’s research shows that higher-risk industries, such as construction and agriculture, have seen marked increases in claim frequency since 2010, while industries like professional services and finance have seen reduced frequency. The bureau estimated that industry mix drove up frequency 1.1% in 2013.

And those who have been on the job for less than two years, where the greatest employment gains have been seen in the economic recovery from the Great Recession, made up 49% of claims in the 2014 accident year, up from 41% in 2010. During the same timeframe, injured workers who had been on the job for two to six years fell from 30% of claims to 21%.

Am I concerned? The statistics might be alarming, but then again, maybe not. In the end, the employer pays the insurance bill, and it's a matter of whether the risk of doing business in Los Angeles is worth the benefit of ceiling and visibility unlimited conditions. The employer community will tell us that eventually; whether or not this leads to some "reform" down the road will depend on how long those conditions last.

There's been a lot of press about Southern California claims ruining the rest of the state's statistics, and when there's enough noise then people get anxious and seek to remedy a perceived problem that is not understood.

We've been through this before many times with psychiatric claims, with physician dispensing, with medical legal mills, etc. In each instance a reform was put through only to open up other, more creative, ways to seek benefits, and other, more creative, ways to deny claims.

At the end of the day, though, we don't really know why, and ergo, don't know how.

In other words, CAVU in workers' compensation means Claims And Vindications Unknown. And like aviation there's turbulence in clear air that you can't see but you know is there, somewhere.

So let's take a moment, stay calm, and chive on (acknowledgement to clothing company theChivery for their trademark phrase). No more reforms please. Not yet.

No comments:

Post a Comment