As an employer, you are no doubt well aware of the costs of serious work injuries. Missed workdays mean a smaller pool of available employees, which can have a significant impact upon productivity and, more importantly, your bottom line.
Employers in all settings are very familiar with work injuries. They are also familiar with the phenomenon of employees calling in sick, complaining of headaches, excessive fatigue, or stomach pains. As it turns out, researchers have determined that many times these symptoms are simply physical manifestations of excessive stress, and that employers can actually take relatively simple steps to help workers remain stress-free, healthy and, most importantly, present.
In our last post, we discussed the flood of California work comp claims coming from former and current NFL players for teams across the country. In many cases, NFL pros and former pros are filing these work comp claims claiming injury after years of cumulative trauma from bruising contact in the NFL. If any of these claim is successful, the player could receive up to $150,000 for the work-related injury and free medical care for life under California work comp laws.
Owners in the National Football League (NFL) are on the defensive as thousands of current and former professional football players who played in the NFL have filed worker's compensation claims in California's work comp system. Claims from decades of bruising hits in the NFL could escalate into hundreds of millions of dollars. NFL owners are now defending against work comp claims in the state from which they operate and California, too, in some cases.
Employee fraud -- particularly workers' compensation fraud -- is a constant threat to California employers. Specifically, it can cost them both time and money, two prized commodities in our unsteady economy. In addition, employees engaging in this type of fraudulent activity are committing a crime punishable by large fines, a permanent criminal record and even prison time.
In a previous post, our blog discussed a study by the Santa Monica-based RAND Corp., which determined that while the California Injury and Illness Prevention Program (CIIPP) has proven successful in reducing work injuries, accidents and hazards over the last 19 years, this success has been largely limited to those businesses that were cited for violating particular work safety mandates.
A recent workers' compensation defense case out of Arkansas addressed a very interesting issue: Whether an employer/work comp carrier can introduce photos of an employee consuming alcohol as evidence to deny the award of additional work comp benefits.
All employers -- regardless of size or sector -- must remain on the lookout for potentially fraudulent and frivolous work comp claims. In fact, one of the more common manifestations of employee fraud for which employers need to remain watchful is misrepresentations by an employee regarding the severity of their work injury.
As an employer, you expect your employees to be both safe and lucid while on the job. This means that employees must understand that intoxication of any kind -- whether from drugs or alcohol -- will not be tolerated and can perhaps lead to disqualification for work comp benefits in the event of a workplace accident. Interestingly enough, a recent workers' compensation defense case out of Louisiana actually awarded work comp benefits to an injured employee who tested positive for drugs.
In 1991, a new occupational safety program designed to drastically reduce the number of work injuries/accidents went into effect here in the Golden State. Called the California Injury and Illness Prevention Program (CIIPP), the groundbreaking program called for employers to do some of the following: