I hope the title got your attention. As a comp attorney for 39 years I learned of the hidden gems to be discovered in mining otherwise unreadable statutes. Best of all are the sections that are all but forgotten and all but little obeyed or enforced. That describes most sections of most laws.
Non-Workers Comp Laws That Assist Employers
What I was doing was locating sections of non-comp laws that encourage or require an employer to be proactive about employee illness or disability. These sections can be found in many laws where they are least expected, but the most important ones regulate employees in various dangerous jobs – and “dangerous” means not just dangerous to the workers but to the public as well.
How are these laws friendly to employers? They give the employer the power to perform medical exams of workers without running afoul of the work comp laws which severely restrict medical examinations and create hurdles that delay an exam by weeks, or even months.
OSHA & DOT Exams Are Most Common
Several years ago, OSHA began to be used by some employers to schedule medical exams of workers with uncertain causes of disability. This led to a surprising drop in the number of new filed comp claims. However, a large number of claims are filed only because of uncertainty, and an early exam can dispel much of the anxiety about cause, severity and duration of physical complaints.
Soon after that, the power of DOT exams was demonstrated in dealing with drivers of heavy vehicles. What was surprising was the number of employers, some quite large, that were unaware of the active role they could take in these exams.
But OSHA and DOT laws are most used by construction and transportation. What about other employers? It will vary from state to state but nearly every employer has some operation or workplace environment that would call for, or at least allow, an examination following any employee complaint. Furthermore, these exams can be done in that fleeting period after complaints begin but before a comp claim is alleged.
Most employers report that prior to a dubious comp claim being filed an employee began to report aches and pains. These are warning signs that a claim will surely follow. It is at this time that an exam will be of the most benefit.
Virtually All Businesses Can Use Regulations To Their Advantage
But how do you find a law to assist an employer? Only by doing a bit of intelligent searching. Virtually all business operations are covered in some way by the state and local public health laws. Specific businesses are subject to regulations regarding equipments and vehicles. Restaurants have a host of new laws regarding health of employees, as do nursing homes, schools and hospices. A good way to locate laws is to review how many potential inspections a business might face since nearly all inspections are done to limit potential disability.
An employer who sees regulations only as a threat of fines or worse has not yet seen the value of zealous compliance as a means to reduce interactions with the comp law.