Every year, more than 100 million people are covered thanks to workers’ compensation laws. While not every one of these workers receives a check for workers compensation benefits, that money is available if they end up needing it.
As an employer, it’s vital to know what’s covered and what’s not under these laws.
Here is everything you need to know about workers compensation.
Why You Need These Benefits
Depending on the industry that you’re in, injuries at work don’t typically fall within a category that people can get first aid for. If someone is injured at work, they’re usually dealing with a severe problem that requires medical attention or prolonged treatment. While having a well-stocked medical kit and first-aid tools on hand is vital, it’s not usually the final solution.
If you just need a band-aid and don’t need medical attention, the injury doesn’t demand workers’ compensation. It’s when you have to fill out a report, call an ambulance, or make an appointment with a doctor that you need this assistance.
Small cuts and scrapes are painful but should heal within a day or two. A bad headache from a loud piece of equipment or from running into a low hanging object will hurt, but it’s not the end of the world.
However, if your employees are exposed to chemical waste that causes daily or persistent headaches, they could get workers’ compensation. Anything that could lead to a disease or chronic problem stemming from an occupation is enough to merit a strong claim.
Injured Outside the Office?
When you’re insured outside the office, you might not think you’re going to be covered. When people leave work for the day, they’re going to assume they are on their own. However, if you’re outside of work, you might still be able to be covered.
As more workplaces ask us to do more things outside the office that are still related to our work, we put strain on our bodies. We end up acting in the “course and scope” of our employment, doing our duties related to our jobs, in all kinds of places. If you’re required to do a task or a job and you get injured doing it, you might have a claim.
For anyone who works in a delivery truck, you could be hurt while moving equipment that you weren’t given moving tools for. You could end up being struck by a vehicle improperly parked on a hill. You could even be visiting a customer in another country and end up in an accident on your way to their office.
If your injury requires more than just a bandage, you could be eligible for a workers’ compensation claim. If you’re getting paid for doing something and get injured while you’re doing it, consider that grounds for a claim.
Not all workplaces are limited to the four walls of an office or warehouse. If someone was injured while on the job, they can make a claim.
Understand the Scope of Employment
While this line of “outside the workplace” thinking can go into some far-off places, there are limits. Commuting isn’t considered part of the course of anyone’s employment. While, of course, every employee needs to get to work, injuries sustained while riding the train or driving to work don’t necessarily qualify for claims.
Only in rare exceptions will a commuter be allowed to file a claim for workers compensation.
Those off the clock hours also don’t fall within the scope. When an employee is on their lunch break, they’re on their own. Injuries sustained at a restaurant during lunch, even for salaried employees, won’t have anything to do with workers’ compensation.
If employees are engaging in horseplay or end up in a fight, that has nothing to do with an employer. Riding on a forklift for fun or shoving someone out of their way doesn’t qualify an employee for any compensation. If injuries are committed because of alcohol or drug use, the employee could actually end up being sued by the employer.
Any of the injuries listed above here are not considered eligible for compensation.
Mental Health Is Part of It
Believe it or not, mental health is a part of a good work environment. An environment that’s unnecessarily abusive or aggressive to a given employee can be considered a hazardous one. When this is the case, employees can speak up and get compensation for the healthcare they need.
Mental health issues can be considered a workers compensation injury or an occupational disease just like the way physical conditions are. Most states will allow for an assessment to be done following psychiatric injuries that could follow a stressful event. PTSD is common when someone witnesses something shocking or violent at a workplace.
The person who is physically injured by a piece of equipment isn’t the only victim at a worksite. If someone witnesses that, they could suffer from depression and anxiety that may follow them for years.
Several states have now adopted serious regulations that talk about stress as a workers’ compensation claim that’s compensable. When people experience stress in their workplaces, they may have grounds for a claim if it’s become a chronic condition. While many workplaces are stressful, there are some that are more injurious than others.
Workers Compensation Benefits Are Essential
Even if you work in the safest workplace on the planet, any kind of accident that harms an employee could fall on your shoulders. Failure to fix a wall could result in a workers compensation benefits claim that you need to be ready for.
For more about when you need this insurance and why, check out our latest coverage.