Insurance companies that handle workers' compensation claims execute a number of protocols intended to keep their costs down. However, insurers tend to simultaneously neglect the true needs of workers when they engage in excessive cost-cutting programs. The controversial subject of prescribing opioid painkillers has become an issue in workers' compensation matters nationwide and in New York City.
Employers nationwide, including in New York City, will have to become compliant with the regulation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regarding electronic reporting of injuries by Dec. 1, 2017. The ability of OSHA to maintain data regarding the extent and occurrence of various injuries will theoretically help government entities to then strengthen the focus and efficiency of both safety rules and workers' compensation statutory frameworks. The regulation would require employers with more than 250 employees to submit data electronically regarding worker injuries.
The public perception is that the highest numbers of workplace injuries occur in the construction and manufacturing industries. In fact, although construction is high on the list, the highest rate of on-the-job injuries in New York City and nationwide occur in hospitals to health-care workers. Most of those workplace injuries to hospital workers are covered by workers' compensation insurance benefits.
When a worker in New York City is injured at work, the injuries suffered must be covered by workers' compensation benefits, which is a basic principle of coverage applicable in all states. What happens when the worker has two jobs and is injured when off duty for his or her main job? It depends on the facts, but every worker must be covered for workers' compensation benefits by each employer for whom he or she works.
For New York City construction workers and other workers in the city, chronic pain is a central aspect of many workplace injuries. A major workers' compensation insurer, Travelers, has initiated a predictive model that it asserts focuses more intensively on the worker's treatment needs sooner after the injury occurs. This allegedly results in a shorter recovery period and counters the use of opioids in the treatment of such pain.
An issue in all states concerns the plight of temporary workers. Temp workers usually are treated as second-class citizens regarding their rights to training, safety measures and the collection of workers' compensation benefits. Temp workers in New York City are often in the nonunion sector where workers are injured more often due to a lack of training and lesser safety protections.
When a worker is injured on the job in New York City, he or she will be eligible for workers' compensation benefits for any medical care necessary to recover from the injury. If the worker not only receives medical treatment but is also disabled and unable to go back to work for any period of time, then lost wages are paid as per state workers' compensation statutes. It often occurs that the worker remains disabled in the opinion of the treating physician, but in the opinion of the physician retained by the employer, the worker can go back to work immediately.
This is approaching the time of the year when outdoor work, including landscaping, will pick up. In the construction industry in New York City and elsewhere, landscaping may be a vital and critical activity employing many workers. As with any other work activity, the employer is responsible for workers' compensation benefits for every landscape worker that is injured at work.
New York City workers face the same problems that exist nationwide with respect to collecting benefits after a work-related injury occurs. Workers' compensation is a system that has worked better for employers than employees in many respects. Experts in the field, however, believe that it is time for the focus to switch more to the needs of injured workers.
Nowadays in New York or elsewhere, most people with jobs are simply glad they have one, whether their line of work is rather mundane, exciting or even dangerous. Since unemployment levels soared in recent years, many people are willing to do almost anything just to earn a regular income that helps make ends meet. Some people may not even realize the work they do can place them at risk for injuries. Of course, many jobs are inherently dangerous, and their risks are more obvious.