According to The National Safety Council, an employee in the United States sustains a workplace injury about every seven seconds. Altogether, this adds up to about 4,600,000 work-related injuries a year, with the following circumstances accounting for the most injuries:
- Contact with objects and equipment
- Slips, trips, and falls
As an employer, you legally have to have a workers’ compensation insurance policy to cover any work-related injuries and illnesses. But what qualifies as work-related, and what injuries make employees eligible for workers compensation benefits?
Insurance laws vary by states, and workers’ comp won’t cover some extreme circumstances, for example, if an employee gets injured while committing a crime. In general, the insurance provider will offer compensation to an employee who experiences any of the following:
1. Onsite Injuries Caused by Accidents
Workers’ comp covers any accident-related employee injury that occurs onsite while the employee is on duty. Even if an employee causes the incident, they will receive benefits so long as they didn’t commit a crime or break company policy, resulting in the injury. For example, workers’ comp would not cover medical costs for an employee injured at work while intoxicated.
2. Offsite Injuries During Work-Sanctioned Activity
Work-related injuries that occur offsite often involve company vehicles. To establish safety protocols and communicate workers’ comp benefits to at-risk employees, business owners should hold frequent training for any employee who frequently has to drive to complete their work.
In some situations, workers’ comp will cover injuries that occur while an employee travels for business, even if they don’t operate a vehicle. By definition, workers’ comp insurance protects employees from paying out of pocket for any medical expense resulting from any work-sanctioned activity.
3. Work-Related Illnesses
In some industries, workplace conditions may put employees at risk of developing lasting illnesses or diseases. For example, people who work around harmful chemicals could develop life-long illnesses caused by exposure.
Should and employee develop such an illness, the business’ workers’ comp policy will cover the medical expenses and sometimes pay out a portion of lost wages.
4. Repetitive Stress Injuries
Often, on-the-job injuries aren’t the result of a single traumatic event. In many cases, repetitive movements cause long-term injuries. Also called repetitive stress, repetitive strain, or repetitive motion injuries, these injuries typically affect tendons and muscles.
Common repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, rotator cuff injuries, and bursitis. These injuries often result from frequent heavy lifting, remaining in the same position for long periods of time, and continuously repeating the same motions.
In more severe cases, on-the-job injuries may result in temporary or permanent disability. If an employee can no longer perform their job due to their injures, workers’ comp generally covers immediate and ongoing medical bills and replaces a percentage of the employee’s missed wages.
Workers’ Comp Employer Benefits
Workers’ compensation policies not only benefit employees, they protect employers as well. By purchasing workers’ comp, the employer ensures they won’t have to pay out of pocket for employee medical bills.
Also, when employees sign on to the policy, they forfeit the right to sue the employers for compensation. However, an employee can still reject the compensation package offered by the insurance provider, and the employer must negotiate a settlement with the injured employee. Some workers’ comp policies will cover the employer’s legal fees and help cover the settlement.
When it comes to insurance coverage, it’s up to the employer to find the right policy for their business. Whether you need workers’ comp for a new business venture or want to replace your current policy for better value, invest the time in assessing your company’s needs and researching your options. Before making any decisions, compare quotes, and consider asking trusted employees for their input. Especially in high-risk injuries, you want to ensure that your employees feel safe at work and can rest assured that insurance will provide for him if they ever do sustain a serious injury.