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Workers’ Compensation Key Takeaways

Wednesday, May 24, 2023
Workers’ Compensation Key Takeaways

The Horton Group recently hosted a webinar regarding workers’ compensation and the upcoming changes Minnesota is making toward premium calculations. During this webinar, we discussed best practices for maintaining a safe workplace and what kind of claims may arise.

Workers’ compensation provides benefits to employees that get injured or become ill due to their job. While workplace safety should be at the forefront of every employer’s mind, it may not be in the employees’ minds. Do your best to have a safe workplace and always be aware of the workplace environment.

Workplace Safety Rules

Having safety rules in place and enforcing them is paramount to workplace safety. Enforcement is necessary in defending a case; if a safety rule is violated, courts look to see if the employer was enforcing the rules. If an employee consistently violates safety rules and isn’t reprimanded, it is not uncommon for other employees to start making the same violations.

In the event of a workplace injury, courts will look to see if the following criteria are met:

  • Proof of enforcement and documentation of discipline.
  • Safety rules in writing. Whether in a handbook or something similar, safety rules should be written and distributed to every employee. Keep these materials up to date.
  • Management who can testify for violations and how they were handled.

Lastly, accurate job descriptions can go a long way in preventing injuries. When an employee knows what is expected of them, both parties can determine whether or not they’re a great fit.

Training Employees

Training is one of the most important things a business can do for its employees. Ensuring employees know the proper safety procedures and how to use equipment accurately reduces the chance of an injury occurring.

Claims related to a lack of training are unfortunately common. These claims can range from something minor, such as a tripping hazard, to a severe accident, such as amputation. If an incident occurs on camera, perhaps on a security camera, it is important to preserve the footage immediately.

Poor Performing Employees

Dealing with poor-performing employees can be a challenge. Such employees account for nearly 25% of workers’ comp claims. Do not let a problematic employee go unaddressed. If an employee violates workplace safety rules, a business cannot claim that they were eventually going to be fired as a defense. Poor performing employees are a red flag in workers’ comp; if they can sense they’re going to be fired or have had disciplinary action taken against them, they may feel compelled to file a claim.

Types of Workers Compensation Claims

There are three types of workers’ comp claims that we’ve highlighted below, all of which have varying degrees of complexity:

Specific Claims: such as a slip and fall, broken bones, lacerations, or twisted ankle.

Repetitive Trauma Claims: includes chronic pain, carpal tunnel, or back strains.

Mental Claims (Compensable Claims in MN): such as anxiety, stress, or PTSD.

Of the three, repetitive trauma claims, known as Gillette injuries in Minnesota, are the most challenging. Repetitive trauma claims are often made by older employees who have suffered from injuries years prior. For instance, an employee who played sports in their youth and got injured could see that injury resurface during their employment.

Choosing the right independent medical examiner is important in determining if these injuries occurred on the job. It is highly recommended that a company works with a specialist for knee and back injuries. Gathering prior medical records from the claim’s inception is also a good idea.

Two key ways an employer can combat repetitive trauma claims are pre-employment physicals and accurate job descriptions. Businesses can also make videos on how to perform a job properly; however, the person performing the job in the video must be similar in physical stature and fitness level to the employees doing the job.

If an employee works two jobs and suffers from an injury, it’s important to go to the claims adjuster and insurance company first. Be sure to get a statement from the employee and ask the right questions.

Handling a Claim

Getting a claim denied as quickly as possible is in the employer’s best interest. Three things employers should take immediate consideration of once a claim is filed are:

  • Location and condition of the injury
  • Any witnesses
  • Evidence of understanding the job being performed

For those filing a claim, making their social media accounts private is in their best interest. In today’s technology-driven world, social media has become an investigation tool, and this is no exception for claims.

Updates to Workers’ Comp in Minnesota

Minnesota is in the process of updating a key component of workers’ comp which, if passed, could go into effect after October 1, 2023. The changes are regarding the multiplier used when calculating permanent partial disability premiums. In Minnesota, monetary value is determined via a chart using percentage disability ratings and the multiplier. The change to the multiplier is significant, as it is nearly double what it once was.

Staying One Step Ahead

By following the above guidance, employers can stay one step ahead of a claim. Putting safety first is crucial in avoiding a workplace injury. Combing workplace rules, as well as enforcement of those rules, with employee training is a great start. Contact our Business Advisor team to learn more about how you can manage workers’ compensation.

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Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.