An Example of When Workers Compensation Insurance Can Be Useful

An Example of When Workers Compensation Insurance Can Be Useful

Recently here in the Santa Clarita Valley, 31 workers at an aerospace company were exposed to, and subsequently inhaled, an unknown chemical agent. Twenty-three workers were treated on the scene by emergency personnel and eight of them chose to go to a local hospital to receive further treatment. Of the eight who went to the hospital, none of them were in serious distress. The subject of workers compensation can brings to mind injuries like cuts, a broken bone, a sprain, etc. to a single worker, and it’s easy to see why. According to Insurance Journal, the most common injuries that appear on workers comp claims are strains and sprains (30% of claims), followed by cuts or punctures (at 19%). However, coverage isn’t necessarily limited to physical damage to an employee’s body. The real value of workers compensation insurance can be seen in situations like the one at the Santa Clarita aerospace company where several employees are exposed to noxious chemicals. Not only does it provide coverage for the employees’ medical bills, but also potentially for lost wages, rehabilitation, retraining, and it protects the employer from being sued. Illness and sickness that are suffered on the job – particularly from being exposed to hazardous chemicals – can easily effect more than one employee at a time, and depending on the chemical agent in question, can be extremely damaging to them. Luckily for the workers at the aerospace company, none of them appear to have suffered significant injury or illness from their exposure, and it wasn’t made clear in the media whether or not the exposure was due to human error or...
Workers Compensation Insurance Coverage Doesn’t End With the Shift

Workers Compensation Insurance Coverage Doesn’t End With the Shift

On the outside, workers compensation insurance is pretty simple: if you’re injured or become ill due to work-related activities, workers compensation insurance will kick in and provide coverage for medical and other qualifying costs. It would be nice if things were as cut-and-dry as that, but like many things in life, when workers compensation coverage is and isn’t available for employees is more nuanced. Employees are still entitled to workers compensation coverage if they’re injured doing something off the clock that their employer benefits from. For example, suppose an employee clocks out but before they can exit the building, a customer asks for assistance reaching something off of a high shelf. The employee helps the customer and, in the process of doing so, falls off the ladder and sprains their ankle. The employee would still be eligible for benefits because they were performing duties associated with their job that the employer would benefit from. Here are a few other areas where employees are eligible for workers compensation insurance that employers may not be aware of: Special Missions – When an employee is asked to do something by their employer on their way to or from work, such as stopping at the bank, they’re considered to be on a “special mission.” During these missions, employees are eligible for workers compensation insurance. Areas Outside the Workplace that are Controlled by the Employer – These areas are usually going to be sidewalks and parking lots. If an employee slips on the sidewalk controlled by the employer, or is struck in the parking lot, they are eligible for workers compensation benefits. On-Call –...
Reduce Your Workers Comp Costs With an EWP

Reduce Your Workers Comp Costs With an EWP

An EWP, or Employee Wellness Program, is a series of well-defined activities and policies designed to encourage health and wellness in your employees. The goal of the program isn’t to force your employees into an unwanted exercise or diet program, but to provide them with information about health they may not be aware of, allowing them to make better-informed choices regarding their own lifestyles, health, and safety. For an EWP to be effective, it should include the following three things: An overall health risk assessment questionnaire given to individual employees Biometric testing (blood pressure, glucose, BMI, etc.) should be provided to identify any existing or early warning signs of potentially dangerous diseases Behavior modification programs offered once testing is complete to assist those who are at higher risk The difference between healthy and unhealthy employees is significant. For example, employees who are at high risk of depression often cost a company 70% more than those who are not, while those at risk for high stress can cost a company 46% more than other employees. The greater expense doesn’t necessarily come from treating depression or stress but from production losses associated with these problems. Employees in these situations tend to lose focus often, have lower response times, and may exhibit risky behavior. When it comes to physical injuries, obese employees have an average recovery time 13 times longer than non-obese employees, and 11 times the indemnity cost. An effective EWP that helps employees live healthier, happier lives can seriously reduce your workmans compensation insurance costs due to the simple fact that they’re less likely to get injured or suffer from...
Workers Compensation Insurance – What Does it Cover?

Workers Compensation Insurance – What Does it Cover?

In the State of California, any business with at least one employee who is not the sole proprietor must provide workers compensation insurance. The coverage is designed to provide financial protection for employees who are injured while performing their duties in the workplace, and protect business owners from getting sued by their employees. Most of the protection provided by workers compensation insurance falls into one of four categories: medical treatment, disability, rehabilitation, and death and funeral services. Medical Treatment Medical treatment coverage provided by workers compensation insurance can be used to pay for doctor visits, hospital stays, emergency room visits, medications, therapy, and rehabilitation treatments. Coverage amounts will vary pretty widely depending on which plan a business owner chooses to buy, but most of them include coverage for additional equipment like crutches and wheelchairs. Disability Workers compensation can help cover a worker’s wages while they’re unable to attend due to their covered injury. The amount of coverage given will depend on the severity of the injury sustained. Insurance companies will classify covered injuries into one of four categories: temporary partial, temporary total, permanent partial and permanent total. Rehabilitation With some injuries, simply getting medical attention isn’t going to be enough. If someone sustains significant damage to one or more limbs, or are off their feet for an extended period of time, they may need to attend rehab to restore their ability to move freely. Workers compensation insurance provides coverage for physical and/or cognitive therapy as well as vocational rehabilitation to help an employee learn new skills if they will be unable to perform their old job after their injury....
Penalties for Not Buying Workers Compensation Insurance

Penalties for Not Buying Workers Compensation Insurance

Workers compensation insurance is required by the State of California for all businesses that have at least one employee. Those who own a sole proprietorship and therefore only employ themselves are exempt from the requirement, but if they hire anyone else to do anything, they’ll need to buy workers compensation insurance or face some stiff penalties. If the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement becomes aware that a business owner who meets the requirement is operating without workers compensation insurance, the first thing that will happen is that a stop order will be issued to the business. The stop order requires that the business owner cease using employee labor until workers compensation coverage is obtained. Ignoring or refusing to comply with the stop order is a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and/or fines of up to $10,000. When an employee is injured and files a workers compensation claim before the business owner buys workers compensation insurance, the business owner faces a fine of $10,000 per employee that was on the payroll at the time the injury took place. The $10,000 fine is only if the claim is determined to be compensable, if it isn’t, the fine is reduced to $2,000 per employee on the payroll at the time the injury took place. Last but not least, failing to obtain workers compensation insurance prior to hiring employees is in itself a misdemeanor offense. It’s punishable by up to 1 year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. As you can see, not having workers compensation insurance is always going to cost more...
Workers Compensation Insurance Tips for the Small Business Owner

Workers Compensation Insurance Tips for the Small Business Owner

Making the leap from a self-run small business to one that employs other people might seem relatively simple from the outside, but hiring a member of the public to work for you is a big deal. Before you even think of placing an ad regarding your open position(s), you’re going to need to get workers compensation insurance, a.k.a. workers comp. It’s mandatory in California, and the penalty for hiring people without it is steep. For those who aren’t familiar with workers compensation insurance, here are a few tips to help you keep yourself covered in the event of a claim. Train any and all employees properly for the job they will be doing, and get them to sign off on it. One of the easiest ways to avoid injury in the workplace is to know what you’re doing. Make sure your employees do, too. Ensure your employees have adequate equipment to perform their duties. Providing work gloves to landscapers or hard hats for construction may seem like a no-brainer, but a job that requires physical labor isn’t the only kind where workplace injuries can occur. If your employees’ job is to sit at a desk and type, they’re at risk for cumulative trauma – that is, an injury that occurs as a result of repeated use of one or more parts of the body. The most prominent of cumulative trauma injuries is carpal tunnel syndrome, an injury that results from pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. Workers comp insurance claims regarding this are growing fast. If an employee does get injured on the job, keep a channel...