Ergonomics, Pre existing Conditions and Workers Compensation

It is time to address a topic about causal relation in a workers comp case. This case involves a teacher and school aid in a library, where the desktop computer is being replaced by a laptop. Soon after the switch, both employees begin to complain about neck pain since the height of the monitor on the laptop could not be adjusted from person to person, and extended use was causing some neck pain. The insured wondered if the change to a laptop was causing the neck problems and if these would be considered as workers compensation cases. We discuss the investigation of causal relation here.   

 
  1. What does the treating doctor say in the medical records?
The most important aspects of this case will be the causal relation statements the physician makes. If the two employees are of the same height and build, why are they complaining of pain, more importantly how is the laptop situated, and how is that causing neck pain? Prolonged sitting in a non-comfortable ergonomic position can lead to strains of the neck, but at a normal desk this should not cause neck pain. Is the laptop screen at eye level or situated down inside the actual top of the desk, where the employees are looking down at the screen? Or is the laptop mounted on top of something where the neck is in a constant extended position? Are other employees complaining of pain or having a hard time viewing the screen of the laptop?  WCxKit
 
It is important to remember in this situation that if an employee comes to an employer and complains of pain and wants to pursue a workers comp claim with supporting medical documentation stating a work injury is present, then it is the employer’s duty to call the claim in to the carrier. The adjuster will make the determination, if the claim is compensable. Certainly more than one employee complaining about the same issue can lead to a more convincing case, but it does not mean it will be automatically accepted. Take pictures of the desk and of these people sitting at the desk as they normally would and send those on to the adjuster as well, so the adjusters can see the setup of the work station and pass that information on to the physician. Being able to actually see the worker sitting as they normally would will help them arrive to the proper decision on the case.  
 
  1. Does either employee have a history of neck pain from another source?
One of the first questions the adjuster will ask is if either employee has a history of neck pain or prior surgery. This could predispose them to having pain if the neck is positioned in certain ways. Again it does not mean that the laptop setup itself is responsible for the pain. It could be pre-existing post-surgical pain that is the culprit. Prior auto accidents involving whiplash complaints can also contribute to neck pain in the future. Also the employees’ activities outside the workplace are unknown.  Maybe one or both of them are engaged in activities that fatigue the neck, and this laptop exacerbated that non-occupational pain.  A question about whether the injury could have another cause is part of a normal investigation in just about every workers compensation claim.
 
 
  1. Is the workstation adjustable or not?
If these employees are of different height, can the chair or workstation be adjusted to properly fit them? And if so, are they still complaining about pain? If nothing is adjustable, are other employees of similar builds complaining about the position of the laptop screen? Why or why not? Again, if no other employees are complaining about any problem with the laptop, then go back to these two employees. What is the relationship to each other? Do these two often hang out at the school? Are they in common positions and have similar duties? How long are they actually sitting at this computer and how often are they required to be moving up and around during the day? All of these questions are part of a normal investigation the adjuster will do, and as the employer, try and gather as much of this information as possible to help the adjuster make the proper determination on the claim.

At the same time the claim is investigated by the adjuster, the incidents should be reported to the safety director who should review the workstation design. Consider having an ergonomic consultant review the set up. Ask your TPA or insurance carrier what resources are available for ergonomic consulting. Consider what other equipment could be provided to make the work station more comfortable.

 
  1. Has the adjuster performed an IME or peer review yet?
Usually background searches have been completed for prior injuries, and the next thing is to gather all of the medical evidence and set an IME with a qualified physician or occupational medicine doctor to address the causal relation. Is there any objective evidence of degenerative arthritic conditions in the neck that can contribute to this pain? Was an MRI performed, and if so are there any objective results, and, if so, how can they relate to the ergonomics of the workstation? This should all be part of the normal investigation on the claim, and all of these questions should be included in the cover letter to the IME doctor, so that doctor can specifically address these questions with the correct answers, using objective medical evidence to back up the opinion.
 
  1. What is the decision–is this compensable or not?
This is the million-dollar question. There are cases like this where these are accepted injuries under workers comp and similar cases where coverage is denied for similar complaints. The lesson here is that no two cases are the same. Maybe one of these employees has no pre-existing condition, and the other one has a prior surgery. This could play a role in which case is compensable and which one is not. It will be up to the adjuster on the file to make a decision on the compensability. Even if the employer disagrees with the decision, there is little to do to swing the case the other way. Let the adjuster do a thorough investigation and stand by the decision. If the worker disagrees with the decision,  there are ways to appeal the decision and research to pursue that on their own. That is the choice of the worker. WCxKit
 
 
Summary
Ergonomic claims such as this one are going to happen at some point. The key thing to remember as the employer is to do a thorough investigation. Gather as much information as possible, even if it appears to not matter in the final outcome. The adjuster always prefers too much information rather than not enough. Take pictures, and assist the adjuster in any request they have. They will make the proper decision on the claim, since that is an adjuster’s job day in and day out. If, however, you disagree with the decision, make sure to talk this out with the adjuster and the claim supervisor.
 
 
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 
 
New 2012 WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT GUIDEBOOK:  www.WCManual.com
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Two New England Employers Cited for Injuries and Hazards

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Prolerized New England Co. LLC, doing business as Schnitzer Northeast, for 10 alleged serious violations of workplace safety standards at its Everett recycling facility, where two workers were injured. Proposed penalties total $70,000.
 
 
According to OSHA officials, the employees were performing maintenance work inside a large rotating drum used to sort scrap material for recycling when the drum activated, injuring them. OSHA's Andover Area Office conducted an inspection in response to the September incident and identified several serious deficiencies in the facility's hazardous energy control procedures, which should ensure machines are deactivated and their power sources locked out before employees perform maintenance work.(WCxKit)
 
 
In this case, the procedures were incomplete and not clearly communicated, training was inadequate, and the procedures were not reviewed to ensure that they were effective and understood by the employees.
 
 
The inspection also found that the employees were not trained to work in confined spaces, such as the drum, and were not provided a hot work permit for welding performed in the drum. Finally, the employees were exposed to the hazard of falling into the drum through an unguarded chute opening. OSHA assessed the maximum fine of $7,000 for each of the violations, for a total of $70,000 in fines. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
 
 
"The unexpected startup of machinery during maintenance can injure or kill workers in seconds," said Jeffrey Erskine, OSHA's area director for Essex and Middlesex counties. "Preventing this hazard requires a combination of effective hazard control procedures, training and diligence to ensure that the proper safeguards are in place, in use and understood by workers."(WCxKit)
 
 

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

 

 

OSHA Fines Connecticut Employer for Exposing Workers to Injury 

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited G.A. Denison & Sons Inc. for 14 alleged willful and serious violations of workplace safety standards at an Old Lyme work site. The New London contractor faces a total of $110,000 in proposed fines, according to an OSHA report.
 
OSHA's enforcement action follows an inspection opened June 7, when Denison & Sons employees were observed being exposed to falls from heights of 15–26 feet while working without protection on both a scaffold and the roof of a building located at 69 Lyme St. (WCxKit)
 
 
In addition, OSHA found employees exposed to fall hazards while improperly climbing ladders and climbing ladders while carrying materials on their shoulders, as well as to head injuries from working without hard hats. These conditions resulted in citations for five willful violations carrying $73,700 in fines. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
 
 
Nine serious violations, with $36,300 in fines, have been cited for several other hazardous conditions, including overloaded scaffolding, a lack of eye protection for employees using nail guns, inadequate scaffold access, a lack of protection against falling objects, and a failure to provide employees with fall protection, scaffold, and ladder training. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. (WCxKit)
 
 
OSHA has placed G.A. Denison & Sons in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He is an editor and contributor to Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 
 
 
 
 
 
WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT GUIDEBOOK:  www.WCManual.com
 
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Mine Safety MSHA Reports Results for Impact Inspections

The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration recently announced that federal inspectors issued 374 citations, orders and safeguards during special impact inspections conducted at 18 coal mines and two metal/nonmetal mines last month.

 
 
According to the agency’s report, the coal mines were issued 292 citations, 28 orders and one safeguard, while the metal/nonmetal operations were issued 52 citations and one order.(WCxKit)
 
 
Special impact inspections, which began in force in 2010 following the explosion at Upper Big Branch Mine, involve mines that merit increased agency attention and enforcement due to their poor compliance history or particular compliance concerns, including high numbers of violations or closure orders; indications of operator tactics, such as advance notification of inspections that prevent inspectors from observing violations; frequent hazard complaints or hotline calls; plan compliance issues; inadequate workplace examinations; a high number of accidents, injuries or illnesses; fatalities; and adverse conditions, such as increased methane liberation, faulty roof conditions and inadequate ventilation.
 
 
As an example from recent inspections, an impact inspection was conducted during the second shift at D & C Mining Corp.'s underground coal mine in Harlan County, Ky. Inspectors arrived at the mine and immediately captured and monitored the mine phone to prevent advance notification of their presence. The inspection resulted in seven 104(d)(2) withdrawal orders, one 107(a) imminent danger order and 11 104(a) citations, of which 16 were designated significant and substantial.
 
 
The imminent danger order was issued when the inspection team found a cigarette lighter near the continuous mining machine, marking the second time this year that smoking articles were found underground at this mine. This condition provided an ignition source in the presence of combustible materials, loose coal and coal dust accumulations in an area with inadequate rock dust to prevent an explosion. The impact inspection was the sixth conducted at the mine since April 2010.
 
 
Inspectors wrote two of the withdrawal orders for inadequate roof and rib supports at the face area of the mine where miners normally work and travel during their shift. Violations included loose, unsupported draw rock, as well as wide roof and rib bolt spacing, all of which created the potential for roof and rib collapses.
 
 
Additionally, inspectors found inadequate rock dusting, use of a non-permissible cap lamp, accumulations of combustible material, an inadequate smoke search program, inadequate pre-shift examinations, improperly working parking brakes on mobile equipment, nonworking self-contained self-rescuer units, a poorly maintained roof drill dust collection system and inadequate illumination on the mine surface areas.
 
 
"The closure order is still one of the most effective tools inspectors have to bring about compliance, even during impact inspections," said Joseph Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "We will not hesitate to use this and other enforcement tools to protect the nation's miners."
 
 
As a second example, MSHA conducted an impact inspection Sept. 12 to 16 at Robinson Nevada Mining Co.'s Robinson Operation, a large surface copper mine located in White Pine County, Nev. MSHA issued 34 citations during the inspection, including 25 citations to the mine operator and nine to independent contractors working on mine property.
 
 
Among the hazards inspectors cited were inadequate testing of electrical grounding systems, and unattended pieces of mobile equipment that were left with engines running and parked on a grade without properly blocking the wheels. In addition, approximately 30 compressed gas cylinders were stored without caps to prevent injury to the valves which, if damaged, could pose an explosion risk. Inspectors also found an open excavation hole that was not supported to prevent material from falling onto workers.(WCxKit)

 
 
Since April 2010, MSHA has conducted 347 impact inspections, which have resulted in 6,187 citations, 584 orders and 22 safeguards.
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 

Our WORKERS COMP BOOK:  www.WCManual.com
 
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact

What Insurance Agents Need to Know about Workers Compensation

 If you are going to sell business insurance  to the business community, you need a strong basic understanding of workers compensation insurance. While companies will be concerned about having insurance for their buildings, inventory, and vehicles, and will understand the need for various types of property insurance, the same companies will look at work comp insurance as a governmental mandated cost of doing business.
 
 
As their agent, you need to be able to explain to your client business the importance of workers compensation and how it works.
 
 
While your clients, the companies, will think about their property insurance exposures, they will have a far higher frequency of workers compensation claims then property claims. Therefore, selling and servicing workers compensation insurance can be challenging for any agent, even experienced ones. The successful insurance agent will be the agent who can explain the advantages of all types of business insurance including workers compensation.(WCxKit)
 
 
A major part of the challenge of workers compensation insurance is the way it is different from the other various business lines. With property insurance, the cost of the claim can normally be ascertained fairly quickly and easily. The longer life of some work comp claims, along with the variables of medical treatment, income replacement, and a third party (the employee) who has a different perspective and different motivation, makes the evaluation of the cost of the work comp claim much more complex.
 
 
The complexity of work comp is what often keeps insurance agents from being as educated in workers comp as they are in the other insurance products they sell and service. However, learning the parameters of work comp is not nearly as difficult as you might think. To assist you in becoming more proficient in work comp, we have put together a guide that has become quite popular both with agents/brokers and with risk managers/corporate financial control management.
 
 
Our guide will assist agents in better understanding the entire work comp process which will assist you, the agent, in providing a higher level of service to your clients when they have a claim or even when they just want a better understanding of workers compensation. The chapters of the guide that will be of special interest to insurance agents include:

1. How an employer should assess their work comp program.

2. How the employer should structure their work comp team.

3. The forms and documents the employer will need to process/submit their work comp claims.

4. The training the employer will need in their work comp program.

5. The management and monitoring of the employer’s work comp program.

 
Additionally, as the agent, you will want to understand what is going on with the client’s work comp claims. Learning more about the claim progress will allow you to answer the questions your clients have about their claims. Knowing the differences between the way property and work comp claims are handled will allow you to better service your clients. Some of the topics that benefit insurance agents and allow for a better understanding of workers compensation include:
 
1. The role of the third party administrator in the work comp claim.
2. The differences between bundled and unbundled services.
3. The importance of proper account handling instructions.
4. The role of medical management in the claim.
5. The best practices of work comp claim handling.
6. The ability of the employer to control the selection of the medical providers.
7. The importance of a return to work program at the client.
8. The importance of a solid safety program.
9. How to fight fraudulent claims.  WCxKit
 
It is important that the agent can answer all of their client’s insurance questions including the questions on workers compensation. We encourage you to learn work comp to the point that you can answers all your client’s questions. If you want to know more about cost containment, learn more about our book Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%.
 
 
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Manage Your Workers Compensation: Reduce Costs 20-50% www.WCManual.com. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 

NEW 2012 WORKERS COMP BOOK:  www.WCManual.com
 
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

OSHA Finds Two Employers Exposed with Hazards

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports it cited American Railcar Industries. Inc., headquartered in Saint Charles, Mo., for 10 serious safety violations after an employee was electrocuted while performing repair work on a tanker-style railcar July 25 at the company's work site near Marmaduke, Ark.


"Exposing workers to electrocution hazards without proper safeguards and training is inexcusable," said Carlos Reynolds, the agency's area director in Little Rock. "It is the employer's responsibility to create a safe and healthful workplace where preventable hazards don't cost workers their lives."(WcxKitz)


Upon receiving a fatality report from the employer, OSHA's Little Rock Area Office initiated an investigation July 26 at the company's facility on Highway 34 East and found that workers were being exposed to electrical shocks from welding equipment.


The violations include failing to provide personal protection for employees conducting cutting and welding operations; properly mark the power supply and control boxes for voltage, current and wattage; use fixed wiring instead of flexible cords and protect the wiring from possible damage; remove defective electrical equipment from service; and inspect and mark web slings. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. Proposed penalties total $61,400


American Railcar Industries, which employs about 260 workers at the Marmaduke facility and about 1,500 workers nationwide, designs and manufactures railcars.(WcxKitz)


The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Little Rock or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

 

 

Pennsylvania Employer Fined for Exposing Workers to Hazards 

 

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited QG LLC for eight serious violations of the process safety management standards at its Atglen facility in response to an employee complaint. Proposed penalties total $54,000.

 
"Process safety management prevents the unexpected release of toxic, reactive or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals," said Albert D'Imperio, OSHA's area director in Philadelphia. "It's vital that QG ensure safeguards are in place to protect the safety of workers at this facility." (WCxKit)
 

The serious citations issued for the process safety management standard violations include failing to provide information pertaining to the equipment being used, establish written operating procedures and safe work practices, conduct employee training, conduct a pre-start up safety review, implement written procedures for ongoing integrity, develop procedures for management of change, certify that compliance was evaluated at least every three years, and ensure that installations of equipment in hazardous locations were intrinsically safe or approved for the hazardous location.

 

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
 

OSHA's standards contain specific requirements for the management of hazards associated with processes using dangerous chemicals. Additional information is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/processsafetymanagement/index.html.
 

Headquartered in North Haven, Conn., QG LLC is a web offset printing company with approximately 240 employees at its Atglen site. (WCxKit)
 

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, ask for an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He is an editor and contributor to Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 
 
 
2012 NEW WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT GUIDEBOOK:  www.WCManual.com
 
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Australian and New Zealand Employer Fined after Worker Injury

New Zealand Employer Fined after Serious Injuries to Workers
 
Two companies from Taranaki, New Zealand have been fined a total of $71,500 after an employee suffered serious injuries when the hired machine he was operating rolled down a slope, pinning him underneath.
 

According to details 
from the Department of Labor, Taranaki Civil Construction Limited was fined $38,500 and ordered to pay $12,000 in reparation to its employee who suffered a compound fracture to his right arm and lacerations to his scalp and neck. (WCxKit) Graham Harris (2000) Limited, the company that hired out the roller, was fined $33,000 and ordered to pay $4,000 in reparation for failing to ensure the roller was safe to use.[WCx]
 

The New Plymouth 
District Court heard that the company was working on a project in New Plymouth to improve flood defenses in February this year.  The employee was using a roller to compact clay at the top of the stop bank.
 
The roller that the company hired was not fit for the operation as it did not have a roll over protective structure or a seat belt,” says the Department of Labour’s Taranaki Service Manager Jo Pugh. “This type of machinery is not appropriate to use on top of a narrow stop bank of clay and it put this employee at serious risk of harm,” says Pugh. 
 
 
 This accident could have been prevented had some basic safety steps been followed, saving this employee from a number of operations that were required due to his injuries.”A Kewdale, Australia, company engaged in designing and manufacturing semi-trailers has been fined $20,000 over an incident in which a worker was injured by a tanker that rolled off a stand, according to the Western Australia Department of Commerce.
 

Australian Employer Fined after Worker Injury
 
 
General Transport Equipment Pty., Ltd., pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the safety or health of a person not being an employee and was fined in the Perth Magistrates Court this winter. (WCxKit)
 
 
In July 2009, General Transport was holding a tri-axle tanker trailer in its workshop that had undergone welding repairs. During the time it was being held, the tanker was empty and remained supported by a semi-trailer jack stand fabricated by General Transport.
 
 
On July 7, a worker was directed to perform a hydrostatic test on the tanker, a process where each separate compartment of the tanker is filled with water in turn, then pressurized to test for leaks.
 
 
During the filling of the front compartment there was a component failure that caused the tanker to roll to its left. A man not employed by General Transport who was working at a bench to the left of the tanker was trapped between the tanker and the bench, suffering pelvic bruising.
 
 
WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said the case demonstrated that safe systems of work needed to be in place at all times. [WCx]
 
 
It was fortunate that this man was not more seriously injured — or even killed — in this incident,” McCulloch said. “The court found it would have been reasonable to expect that the tanker would have been supported using appropriately rated trestles or stands, or that the employees should not have been allowed to hydro test without the tanker being properly supported.

This employer failed to take any practicable measures to ensure this task was performed in a safe manner, and the case should serve as a reminder to ensure that safe systems of work are in place at all times,” he said.

Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He is an editor and contributor to Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 
 
WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT GUIDEBOOK:  www.WCManual.com
 
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contactInfo@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

WC Basics 101 – Kansas Workers Compensation

Workers Compensation Laws change frequently. This is only a summary; a complete copy of the most up-to-date version can be found at: www.WorkCompResearch.com , an excellent service.

In Kansas workers compensation coverage is compulsory as to all employment, including corporate executives and employees of charitable organizations.  Coverage is elective for individuals, partners or the self-employed.   There are some exceptions.  Real estate brokers and real estate salespeople on commission are excluded from the compulsory requirements.  Also, farm labor and employees of any employer whose gross annual payroll is $20,000 or less are excluded from compulsory coverage.

 
Obtaining Coverage
To obtain workers compensation coverage in Kansas, the employer has three options which are
 
  • purchasing a workers compensation insurance policy from a state approved insurance company
  • applying to and being approved for self-insurance status with the Kansas Department of Labor.
  • being a part of a group-funded self-insurance plan that has been approved by the Kansas Department of Labor

Claim Reporting
The employee must provide notice of the injury to the employer with 10 days and up to 75 days with just cause.  The actual claim of the employee must be served on the employer within 200 days after the accident, or last payment, or within 1 year of the employee’s death with death occurring within 5 years after the date of the accident.  WCxKit
 

Medical Benefits
In Kansas, the employer selects the medical provider for workers compensation claims.  The employer is required to provide all reasonable and necessary medical care free of any charges to the employee. The employer is also liable for up to $500 of employee incurred medical bills at a non-authorized doctor.  The employee can also apply to the Director of Workers Compensation for a change of doctors. The employee is entitled to all medical treatment needed to cure or relieve the effects of the injury.  Prayer or spiritual treatment is permitted by agreement.
 

Temporary Total Disability Benefits
The temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are calculated as two-thirds of the employee's average weekly.  The maximum amount of TTD benefits that can be paid is $555.00 per week.  The state maximum is subject to annual increase/decrease each July 1st, based on the state’s average weekly wage.  The state minimum weekly benefit is $25.
The first 7 days of disability (the waiting period) is not paid to the injured employee unless the employee is disabled for more than 21 days.  TTD benefits can be paid until a cap of $100,000 has been reached.
 

Temporary Partial Disability Benefits
In Kansas if the employee is able to return to any type of work, but at a lesser rate of pay then the amount the employee was earning prior to the injury, the employee is entitled to temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits.  The TPD benefits are paid at two-thirds of the difference between the pre-injury wage and the post-injury wage.  The TPD benefits are paid for up to a maximum of $100,000.  The TPD benefits plus the post-injury pay rate cannot exceed the state's maximum indemnity benefits rate.
 

Permanent Partial Scheduled Disability
Kansas uses a Schedule to establish the value of an injury to all extremities, the shoulders, eyes and hearing.  Each body part has a set number of weeks it is worth with a shoulder being worth 225 weeks of compensation and the number of weeks decreasing with other extremity body parts having lesser value down to a toe, other than a big toe, being worth 10 weeks of compensation.   A 20% loss of use of the arm, which is scheduled at 210 weeks, would result in a permanent partial scheduled disability award of 42 weeks (210 weeks X 20%).

Permanent Partial General Disability

When the employee sustains a permanent partial general disability of a body part not listed on the Kansas Scheduled Injuries list and the employee is not permanent totally disabled, the employee receives permanent partial general disability. If the employee is able to return to work and is earning at least 90% of the average weekly wage, the employee is given a percentage of the whole body impairment based on the AMA Guidelines, Fourth Edition.  The maximum in weeks is 415 weeks.  An employee with a 10% rating would get an award of 41.5 weeks of compensation.  The maximum an employee can collect for permanent partial disability is $100,000.
 

Permanent total disability
Kansas permits the employee to collect a maximum of 415 weeks of indemnity benefits for all types of indemnity combined, but the total amount of benefits collected for permanent total disability is $125,000 instead of $100,000 (the amount of TTD benefits paid to the employee is included in the $125,000 indemnity benefit cap).
 

Death Benefits
The burial expenses in Kansas are covered for a work-related death up to $5,000.  The death benefits for a dependent spouse and children follow the same guidelines as TTD benefits – two-thirds of the average weekly wage – currently a maximum of $555 week, and a minimum survivor’s benefit of $370 per week, except there is a dollar maximum for death benefits in the amount of $250,000 with children, or $200,000 without children.  If there is no spouse and no dependents, the death benefit is reduced to $25,000.  WCxKit
 

Vocational Benefits
Vocational Rehabilitation is on a voluntary basis in Kansas. However, once it is started, it cannot be terminated without the agreement of the employee.  The vendor of the vocational rehabilitation may be changed for good cause supported by substantial evidence.  If so, the employee may select the replacement vendor from a list of three qualified vendors provided by the employer.
 

Author Rebecca Shafer
, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Manage Your Workers Compensation: Reduce Costs 20-50% www.WCManual.com. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 

NEW 2012 WORKERS COMP BOOK:  www.WCManual.com
 
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Texas Man and Maryland Woman Sentenced on Workers Comp Fraud Charges

Texas Mutual Insurance Company reported recently that a Travis County district court sentenced Thomas Mikulenka of League City, Texas on workers compensation fraud-related charges.
 
 
The court sentenced Mikulenka to three years deferred adjudication and 100 hours of community service. Mikulenka was also ordered to pay $7,221 in restitution to Texas Mutual. (WCxKit)
 
 
Mikulenka reported a job-related injury while working as an electrician for IGC Construction, Inc. in Houston. He claimed he was unable to work as a result of the injury, and Texas Mutual began paying income benefits to him.
 
 
Meanwhile, Texas Mutual uncovered evidence that Mikulenka was working as a laborer while receiving income benefits.
 
 
Investigators call this type of scam double-dipping because claimants collect benefits for being too injured to work when, in fact, they are gainfully employed. Texas law requires claimants to contact their workers comp carrier when they return to work. (WCxKit)
 
 
Left unchecked, double-dipping and other workers comp fraud can lead to higher premiums for all Texas employers.
 

 

Maryland Woman Sentenced in Nevada Workers Comp Fraud Case 

A Maryland woman has been sentenced to 2 ½ years in a Nevada state prison for attempting to defraud her employer’s workers compensation insurer of $20,000 while at a professional conference at the Las Vegas Hilton, according to Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto’s office.

 
 
Tamara Thompson-Johnson, 45, was ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution, $4,000 in extradition costs and serve 2 ½ years in a Nevada prison after pleading guilty to making false statements to obtain workers comp benefits from her employer, officials say. (WCxKit)
 
 
According to officials, Thompson-Johnson claimed she was injured at the Las Vegas Hilton when a vase, dislodged by an intoxicated person, fell from its pedestal. Although she refused medical treatment at the scene, she reported to security that she had been struck by the vase and checked herself into a hospital.
 
 
The Nevada General Attorney’s office says Thompson-Johnson hired a lawyer and requested a claim for compensation from the Las Vegas Hilton. Her claim was turned down when surveillance footage of the incident surfaced showing that the vase narrowly missed Thompson-Johnson.
 
 
Although her lawyer ceased representing her Thompson-Johnson filed another claim through her employer’s workers comp carrier Travelers Insurance, claiming the vase hit her on the back of her head, neck and back, leaving her disabled. As a result she was paid $20,000 on her fraudulent claim.
 
 
According to the Nevada Attorney General’s office, Thompson-Johnson was extradited from Maryland when she did not appear for court hearings in Las Vegas.
 
 
She pleaded guilty to one felony count of making false statements or representations to garner benefits and was sentenced in November. (WCxKit)
 
 
Along with a 2 ½ year jail sentence, she was ordered to pay $20,435 in full restitution to Travelers Insurance, $4,005 in extradition costs and to reimburse the state $1,000 for costs in connection to the case and was ordered to disclose her conviction to present and future employers and insurers.
 
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

NEW 2012 WORKERS COMP BOOK:  www.WCManual.com
 
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

CANADA Work Comp Board Noted as Top Employer for 2012

The Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba (WCB), Canada was recently noted as one of Manitoba's Top 25 Employers for 2012, according to the agency. Congratulations!
 

The WCB was chosen for this list based on an extensive entry submitted to Mediacorp Canada, Inc. A blue-ribbon panel, comprised of human resource academics from across Canada, judged each entry on the workplace programs and initiatives outlined in submissions.[WCx]


"Inclusion in this list confirmed what so many of us already knew — the WCB is a great place to work, whether you are starting your career or are a seasoned professional with years of experience," said WCB President and CEO Doug Sexsmith.


Sexsmith added the WCB places a high value on satisfying work experiences for its staff, based on the four pillars of its recruitment and retention brand, WCB Does: security, wellness, engagement and growth. "Those four factors are our strengths as an employer of choice," Sexsmith said.


The benefits of working at the WCB are reflected in the organization's low voluntary turnover rate of 1.4 percent. Successful staff retention and recruitment can be attributed to a number of factors, including an attractive benefit package, progressive work/life balance initiatives, fitness programs, staff feedback mechanisms, opportunities for professional growth and challenging work. [WCx]


"Our management and union have worked together for many years to build a workplace that not only benefits our workers but our stakeholders as well," Sexsmith said. "Our staff does very important work in Manitoba and we want to create an atmosphere that helps them succeed. After all, how our employees feel is also how our customers will feel."
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He is an editor and contributor to Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 
 
WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT GUIDEBOOK:  www.WCManual.com

WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Why Are Half of British Workers Treated Poorly

According to new research conducted by a team from Cardiff University (Wales), half of those British workers surveyed have been ill-treated in the last two years.

 
 
The survey reports 4.9 percent of workers were victims of violence while 22.3 percent said they were treated in a disrespectful or rude way. Twenty-seven percent said they felt ignored. The study used data from face-to-face interviews with 3,979 workers, and the data, provided for the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), was to be presented at a London conference.(WCxKit)


The report
, "Insight into ill-treatment in the workplace: patterns, causes and solutions," was written by academics from Cardiff University's School of Social Sciences and Prof Duncan Lewis at the University of Plymouth Business School. It is based on data from the British Workplace Behaviour Survey, obtained in 2008 from interviews by the market research company TNS Global.
 

The team also looked in-depth at four large employers, using them as case studies. Workers in the public sector were reported to be "particularly at risk" of rudeness, disrespect, violence and injury. (WCxKit)

 
 
The majority of attackers involved in violent incidents were said to be from outside the workplace, with 72% of assailants being customers, clients or members of the public. Workers in health, social work, education, public administration and defense faced the highest risk.
 

Meantime, staff in the private sector was more likely to suffer assaults by colleagues, while disabled employees, those with long-term health problems and younger staff are all more likely to experience ill treatment at work, as were lesbian, gay and bisexual workers.

The survey found that permanent staff with managerial responsibilities is more likely to experience what was described as "unreasonable treatment" and violence in the workplace.(WCxKit)

The report notes some 7,000,000 to 8,000,000 British workers suffer from "impossible workloads" and "not being listened to". Managers and supervisors were blamed for two-thirds of incidents of unreasonable behavior but could also be victims of the same treatment.


Author Robert Elliott
, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 

NEW 2012 WORKERS COMP BOOK:  www.WCManual.com
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

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