Republished with permission from ReduceYourWorkersComp.com
Carriers preach the importance of documentation in claim files using this pithy saying: ” If it is not documented, it did not happen.” The same should be true for every employer. Risk management or safety team members must properly document everything. This includes tracking numbers and incidents, recording safety problems, and keeping a close watch on injuries and incidents on the work floor.
Why record keeping is important
All workers arrive on the job with various physical issues related to their personal life. Perhaps the worker did a lot of yard work over the weekend and is sore. Maybe the employee fell shoveling snow and has a back injury. Maybe personal turmoil is affecting safety and work. Regardless of cause, it is important to keep proper records on everything heard on the job floor. No one can recall every single detail of a day, so writing it down is critical to document the situation.
When talking to employers, I ask the employer how aware they are of an employee’s personal life. Some answer that question by saying little to no social contact with employees. Other employers will report being friends with coworkers and socializing on a regular basis. Some are right in the middle, reporting casual exchanges in the hallway or break room but not really knowing the employee.
The medical worlds of insurance are interwoven between personal injuries and workers compensation injuries. Some workers have a good combination of both. Some workers never take any time off for a medical condition, whereas others will be off of work frequently for some reason or another.
Many HR people have access to personal medical leave papers. The importance of keeping records shows itself when the time comes and they are needed. If an employee had a knee surgery last year then suddenly claims to injure the same knee at work, a review of personnel files may show the alleged knee injury is not work related. But if the records do not exist, then there is no way to question the claim.
When filing the compensation claim for the knee injury, the adjuster calls and probes about any other past injuries. If the employer is only able to give a vague account of a past injury, the adjuster lacks information to judge the claims compensability. If the claimant does not bring it up to the adjuster, and there are no records as to the employee’s medical leave, there is no way to prove a pre-existing knee injury is present. So with any injury, it is important to keep proper records in every personnel file. No matter the reason for the medical leave, documentation with as much information as possible must be gathered at the time of medical leave. This will help in the future should an issue like the one described happen. The impact documentation has on a workers comp claim can be priceless, in that the employer may not pay workers comp benefits.
Document, document, document …. oh, and write it all down.
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing, publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. www.WCManual.com
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