Dec. 2, 2010

Accidents happen: Workers' compensation reminders

by Paula Van Brocklin

You wipe out in an icy parking lot and bang your knee. You wrench your back lifting a box of paper. It's not something we often think about, but workplace injuries and illnesses can happen. Iowa State has a procedure for reporting workplace mishaps, and human resource services staff want employees to be familiar with it.

Reporting is key

All employees -- merit, professional and scientific, faculty and even student employees -- must complete a first-report-of-injury form within 24 hours following a workplace incident, even if no medical treatment is necessary. If too much time passes between the actual injury and the claim filing, there's a chance the claim will not be paid, according to Greg Bolles, human resource specialist. Plus, if the initial injury or illness worsens, HRS needs to have the first-report-of-injury form on file to track when the injury occurred.

The form is available on AccessPlus. Click on the "Employee" tab and select "Work Injury" from the left column.

Treatment on campus

Employees who sustain non-life threatening illnesses or injuries while working should contact their supervisors immediately (employees who require emergency care should seek treatment right away). If minor treatment is necessary, employees may seek assistance from the occupational medicine staff, located at G11 TASF Building. If further treatment is needed, occupational medicine will refer employees to the McFarland Occupational Clinic. Employees who work outside of Ames can find a listing (PDF) of local workers' compensation providers on the HRS website.

How the process works

Staff in the employee/labor relations and workers' compensation office process all first-report-of-injury documents. A third-party provider, Sedgwick Claims Management, determines which workers' compensation claims are covered under Iowa's workers' compensation law. Once a claim is filed, a Sedgwick claims examiner will work with an employee throughout the process.

There are two types of workers' compensation claims -- medical-only and lost-time. With medical-only claims, an employee receives medical treatment for an injury or illness. Lost-time claims involve both medical treatment and weekly indemnity (compensation) payments to employees who are unable to work, or who have been given work restrictions that a department is unable to accommodate. Sedgwick pays all workers' compensation expenses approved under Iowa law.

For more information about Iowa State's workers' compensation policy, refer to the frequently asked questions (PDF) document on the HRS website.