How to protect your work-from-home employees from injuries that can drive up your workers’ comp costs – Sonoma Index-Tribune - Freelance Rack

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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

How to protect your work-from-home employees from injuries that can drive up your workers’ comp costs – Sonoma Index-Tribune

Often times, a claim may lead to a settlement the worker can deny.

Through recent reforms, an employee will receive up to $10,000 for treatment, no matter whether a company disputes the claim.

As well as medical care, claims provide benefits for temporary or permanent disability with a weekly stipend, job displacement and death. Those who file don’t have to be legal residents of the United States.

Understanding home setup

To avoid the scenario, workplace analysts, doctors and lawyers agree employers need to provide instructions on how their employees set up workstations at home — whether the arrangements are temporary or permanent.

“It’s important to ask employees who work from home: ‘Do you have an adequate workstation?’” said Dr. Babak Jamasbi, who specializes in workers compensation-related cases.

Jamasbi, whose practice operates in six Northern California locations including Rohnert Park, has seen blatant examples of workplace neglect by employers.

“I’ve seen it all,” he said, mentioning an insurance agent who sustained a cumulative back injury by sitting in a broken, tilted chair for too long.

Jamasbi emphasized that an employee who’s working with bad posture may have problems over time.

Workers compensation becomes a tricky challenge as companies doubt the validity of such a claim and negotiations between the employee and employer sour.

If a company shows genuine concern in protecting the health of that employee, the care goes a long way in the eyes of the worker. In some cases, a worker considering filing a claim may hedge on factors that are just as mental as physical.

“Sometimes it just comes down to whether you care. That’s very important,” Jamasbi said, while addressing employers. “Sometimes having anger toward an employer may contribute to an employee filing a claim if they feel they can hurt it.”

Once a worker files, employees are fully aware of the long, laborious process and don’t expect their employees to go to the trouble.

“Navigating the system is tough. That’s why the majority of the people who have an injury have an attorney,” he said.

Upon filing though, employees give up their rights to sue the employers in most cases.

Under a few circumstances including those impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, employees may even push themselves into filing a claim if they feel they’re injured but don’t believe their jobs are safe from being eliminated, an attorney with Mullen & Filippi Law noted.

“A large number of people want to work from home because of the positive mental aspects of that, and employees are influenced by that,” said Dana Miller, who represents companies in workers comp claims.

Miller suggested employers get their workers to send photos or establish videoconferences in which they can see the remote employees workstations.

In turn, a staffer should oblige.

“With such high unemployment rates, they want to keep their jobs. They won’t want to mess with that and upset the apple cart,” he said.

The flip side of that equation amounts to unhappy employees pressing forward with the legal claim if they have unpleasant feelings about their workplaces and whether their management teams care about them.

“One challenge for employers is if, in fact, claims are made regarding these injuries, how do you disprove that?” Miller said.

And along those lines, does an employer really want to alienate a good employee who could very well return healthy if they’re willing and taken care of?

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