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San Jose Workers' Compensation Blog

Avoiding chemical spills that could blast you into the hospital

Various industries in California use dangerous chemicals, and if your employer does not have established safety protocols for the storage of chemicals, you may be at risk of suffering severe consequences. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health have strict regulations, and compliance is vital for the protection of employee health and safety. Furthermore, negligence in the handling of chemicals can be detrimental to the whole community.

There is no doubt about the devastation that chemical accidents can cause to employees and those living in surrounding areas. Cal/OSHA's specifications list the elements for inclusion in the chemical safety standards of any plan.

Workers' compensation and the return-to-work supplement

There are many different aspects to workers' compensation benefits of which San Jose workers should be aware. In many instances, it goes beyond the most commonly understood basics such as payment of medical expenses and coverage for lost wages. One part of workers' compensation that might affect certain people is the return-to-work supplement program (RTWSP).

RTWSP is a program that the Department of Industrial Relations administers. It provides a one-time supplemental payment for workers who are facing a loss of earnings in a disproportionate way. But there are eligibility requirements for RTWSP. Those whose injury came about on or after January 1, 2013 and have gotten a Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit (SJDB) can get RTWSP. When applying, the application must be received within one year of being served the SJDB voucher or within one year from April 13, 2015, whichever came first.

Underreported injuries in the petroleum industry

Construction workers get a lot of attention for the risks of injuries on the job. Many unquestioningly accept that construction and farming are two of the most dangerous professions, with injuries that are often debilitating or fatal. However, analysis of data gathered from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration shows that another industry may far surpass these two in fatalities and injuries.

The petroleum industry, particularly upstream oil and gas, consistently reports high rates of injuries, and many believe these numbers to be low estimates. In fact, if you suffered injuries on the job at an oil or gas field, you may agree that the industry often advertises injury rates considerably lower than national averages to project a safe and low-risk image. However, OSHA data contradicts those reports.

Workers' compensation and supplemental job displacement benefits

Workers in California who are injured and permanently disabled may qualify to receive supplemental job displacement benefits through worker's compensation. This is a voucher that can be used to pay for the enhancement of skills or to be retrained. There are different rules for people who suffered their injuries between January 1, 2004 and December 31, 2012 and those who were injured on or after January 1, 2013.

If a worker was injured between January 1, 2004 and December 31, 2012, the injury led to permanent partial disability, and the person does not return to work within 60 days of the temporary disability benefits being terminated, and his or her employer has not given the opportunity for a suitable alternative or modified job within 30 days of the termination of temporary disability, SJDB is an alternative. The voucher must be used at a state-accredited or state-approved school. It can help pay for the costs of the school, including tuition, books and other expenses. Up to 10 percent of the voucher can be used for career counseling. The amount of the voucher ranges from $4,000 to $10,000 and hinges on the level of the permanent disability.

Workers' compensation and restrictions when returning to work

When a San Jose worker is injured on the job, it is possible that he or she will eventually recover sufficiently to return to work. However, there are often questions as to what kind of work can be done upon one's return. This is why knowing the rules in California for restrictions with regard to workers' compensation claims is important.

If the primary treating physician tells a worker that it is possible to return to work with restrictions, then the employer will need to give work that comply with those restrictions. For example, certain assignments might be altered, the amount of time to complete these assignments could change, or a worker can be given equipment to assist with doing the work. In some cases, the employer might not have available work. If that is the case, workers' compensation law says that the worker does not have to go back to work.

Falling down on safety could lead to increased chance of falls

There are various risks associated with working on a construction site. While the men and women who work in this field know that they face certain hazards every time they show up at work, that does not mean these individuals do not have the right to a reasonably safe work environment. 

If you are a California construction worker, you may know that one of the leading causes of work site injuries and accidents are falls. In fact, falls are the leading cause of death on construction projects. Employers, site managers and construction companies bear the responsibility of implementing safety measures and reducing unnecessary hazards as much as possible.

What can be done about denied claims after a workplace injury?

When a San Jose worker suffers workplace injuries or another issue related to the job that leaves them unable to work, there is an automatic belief that they will be free to use workers' compensation benefits as they are treated. However, there are times when a claim is denied. If there is a denial, it is due to the workers' compensation claims administrator believing that the injury is not covered. A worker can challenge the decision. It is important to note that there are deadlines for the challenge.

While the claim is underway, the administrator might also disagree with the reports from the treating physician regarding the injury itself or the treatment that is being provided. If that is the case, there can be an evaluation by a qualified medical evaluator (QME). A separate doctor called an agreed medical evaluator (AME) can resolve any dispute. If there is a disagreement regarding the medical treatment the treating physician recommends, it must be resolved by an independent medical review (IMR).

How is medical care handled in a workers' compensation claim?

A San Jose worker who is injured on the job or suffers a condition from the type of work he or she does and cannot work will need to consider workers' compensation. One integral aspect of workers' compensation benefits is medical care. There are frequently concerns as to who pays for it, what treatment is available, and if there are any limits on the type of treatment that can be received. Knowing the details of these factors can help a worker who is not receiving the medical care he or she is supposed to or if an employer is not paying the medical expenses as required under the law.

The employer is required to pay for medical care for a worker who was injured or became ill on the job. This is through workers' compensation insurance or self-insurance. The claims administrator will pay the bills. The worker should not receive any bills provided the claim was filed and the doctor knows that the issue stemmed from work. The doctor cannot bill a worker as a matter of law. Medical care after a workplace injury or illness is supposed to "cure or relieve" the effects of the injury. The guidelines doctors will follow in the state are based on the medical treatment utilization schedule (MTUS). This is a publication from the Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC). There are multiple guidelines in the MTUS and it is meant to help a doctor give the correct treatment based on the worker's issues.

What are TD benefits through workers' compensation?

When workers in San Jose and throughout California suffer an injury on the job or become ill because of the work they do, there might be a vague understanding that they can file workers' compensation claims. However, there are various aspects to workers' compensation that they might not be completely familiar with. For example, temporary disability benefits (TD) are available if the worker meets the necessary requirements. TD can be paid if the person has lost wages because the doctor providing treatment says that the worker cannot do his or her job for more than three days or is hospitalized overnight and the employer does not provide a different kind of work that pays the same wages during recovery.

There are two kinds of TD benefits. If the person is unable to do any kind of work during the recovery and there is temporary total disability (TTD) payments or if the person can do some work during the recovery and the employer offers this work, it is possible to receive temporary partial disability (TPD) if the wages are lower than the amount set by law. TD benefits will be two-thirds of the pre-tax wages the person received when working. By law, the worker cannot get more than a maximum amount per week or less than the minimum amount per week. There will be no taxes paid on TD benefits.

Things new employees should know about workplace injuries

Have you recently entered the workforce of California? You may feel anxious because there is so much to learn. You may not realize that the most important part of your training should cover the known and potential hazards of your job. Unfortunately, not all employers prioritize employee safety, and you might be a victim of a workplace injury sooner or later.

Fortunately, the workers' compensation insurance system of the state will cover you, and equipping yourself with the necessary information may prove valuable if you ever become a victim of an on-the-job injury. Knowing what procedures to follow in such an unfortunate event may serve to secure maximum benefits.

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