Construction Job Site Cellphone Use Risks

Mobile technology is a valuable tool for the construction industry. However, construction workers are asked to leave their devices behind due to possible site risks.

 

Cellphones, a necessary method of communication on job sites, distract workers from potential hazards and recommended safety practices. Despite an absence of OSHA regulations pertaining exclusively to cellphones on the job site, OSHA can cite employers for violating the General Duty Clause, which states the requirement to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards. Cellphones fall into that category.

 

Minimizing Safety Risks
Employers in the construction industry should consider the following recommendations regarding cellphone use on construction sites:

    • Enact and enforce clear policies that prohibit texting and talking on a cellphone while operating any kind of motorized vehicle on-site.
    • Limit or prohibit cellphone use in specific areas where distractions could create employee hazards, regardless of whether the employees are operating motorized vehicles.
    • For company-issued cellphones, consider the use of applications that block internet access and texting functionality while in a moving vehicle.
    • Make construction sites cellphone-free zones, and post signs in designated areas to remind workers. Only allow workers access to their cellphones during break periods and in designated areas.

 

Insurance rates can be affected by job site cellphone use, also. As distracted employees may cause an increase in accidents, the cost of workers’ compensation and other insurance coverage is likely to increase.

 

Even without distractions from cellphones, construction sites can be hazardous. Enforcing safety practices and consistently holding workers accountable can prevent unnecessary workplace accidents and costly liability.

 

Contact Vensure Employer Services for more information on minimizing the risk of job site cellphone use or sign up for our next OSHA Construction Training program today!

Vensure’s Claims Department: the “front line” of managing client’s workers’ comp claims

Vensure’s Claims Department, a division of the Risk Management Department, acts as a liaison between the injured employee, the workers’ compensation carrier or third-party administrator, and the medical provider. Through managing workers’ comp claims, our goal is to increase communication and understanding while reducing the potential for litigation.

Our Claims Department is comprised of dedicated, experienced individuals who work together to help our client’s employees regain health and return to work as soon as possible. Teri Jacobs, Vensure Employer Services new Director of Claims, says that Vensure’s Claims Department is on the “front line” of managing client’s workers’ compensation claims. Vensure is known in the industry as being an advocate of introducing employees back into the workforce as soon as they are medically able to do so. “Vensure’s Workers’ Compensation Coordinators are dedicated specialists who are passionate about ensuring our injured workers are being offered the appropriate medical care and benefits to get back to their pre-injury status as soon as possible.” “We utilize one of our preferred providers, TriageNow, to triage claims immediately, providing recommendations for self-treatment whenever appropriate,” says Teri, “thereby reducing claim counts and resulting in immediate claim reporting. This is found to be an effective approach to prevent delays in claims management.”

Vensure Employer Services active role in the claims management process produces lower reserves and reduced disability time. Additionally, this approach improves the client’s loss history and experience modifier, ultimately resulting in lower premium costs. “Vensure’s Workers’ Compensation Coordinators take a proactive approach with return to work efforts,” says Teri. “If light duty is not available, we can reduce or eliminate indemnity benefits by utilizing our Alternative Light Duty Program which places injured workers with a non-profit organization.”

In our industry, we understand that fraudulent claims are going to happen. It’s what you do when one occurs that’s important. Identification and investigation are the keys to appropriate claims processing. Vensure’s Claims Department provides successful outcomes of these claims by giving each alleged incident individual attention. This dedication to managing workers’ comp claims helps reduce the potential for fraud. “Not only does our staff participate in continuous education on the growing trends in the industry,” says Teri, “they have consistent interaction with our clients, third-party administrators and carriers. They are committed to providing exceptional service and resolving problems throughout the entire claims process.”

Also critical are the reporting and analytics that help with coordination of claims between the clients and the adjustors. Chelsea Holden, Assistant Workers’ Compensation Claims Manager states “We take pride in being able to educate our clients fully on the entire claims process. We discuss possible scenarios and ways to handle each. This helps our clients to have the best outcomes for their employees’ workers’ compensation claims.” “I am excited to be working with the Claims Department,” says Teri, “because our team displays the personal drive, energy, and passion required to achieve the extraordinary.”

Managing workers’ comp claims come with the territory when you own a business. The process can be a very frustrating one. Having partners who specialize in the care and handling of these claims can make all the difference. Vensure is invested in taking a proactive approach to avoid claims altogether. However, if a claim does occur, our Claims Department has the expertise necessary to handle it within the letter of the law and return the employee back to work with as great an impact to the health and wellbeing of your employee and as little impact as possible to your bottom line.

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Workers’ Compensation Program Renewal

Dear Valued Client,

We are happy to announce our Workers’ Compensation program with Freestone Insurance Company f/k/a Dallas National Insurance Company has been renewed once again! The effective date is February 1, 2014.

With this renewal, Workers’ Compensation rates have been affected. You will be receiving a letter that was mailed out today with your new rates. The rates will become effective on the first payroll occurring after 30 days of this notice. Your Sales Agent also has an electronic copy.

We feel very fortunate to have a close working relationship with Freestone and look forward to working with them in the future.

We thank you for your loyalty to Vensure and look forward to continuing to serve you. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your Sales Agent.

Sincerely,
Vensure

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Claims Uncovered: Part II

In this interview, a continuation from last month’s article, Claims Uncovered Part 1, Ashley addresses common questions our clients have regarding claims reporting, processing, and unusual claims issues.

Q&A with Ashley Johnson, Claims Coordinator

What if a non-employee is at fault in a workers’ compensation claim? Will the liable party be handling the claim or will it still go through workers’ compensation insurance?

Our client company still needs to file a claim, even if the incident is someone else’s fault. The treatment of the claim goes through workers’ compensation insurance, and the claim will be reviewed for subrogation against the liable party in order to recover amounts paid on the claim. Subrogation is insurance jargon referring to the ability of the insurance carrier to take over some of the claimants’ rights of payment from a liable third party in order to recover amounts paid on a claim. For example, a claim with a liable party could be a motor vehicle claim where the other driver was at fault or any other type of claim caused by an outside party.

What if the claimant doesn’t want to pursue a workers’ compensation claim and wants to seek recovery through the third party claim?

The claim still needs to be filed, even if the employee maintains they want to pursue a claim against the liable party. We will need all of the claim forms in order to set up the claim, review, and keep it on file as a Report Only. Report Only means that a claim is kept on file and is not reported to the insurance carrier. In many cases, if the third party finds out the claim is work related, they will require the claimant to treat through workers’ compensation. In the event that the employee changes his/her mind and decides to pursue the workers’ compensation claim, we will have the information necessary to immediately start handling the claim.

Do clients have to report injuries they don’t think are work related?  

Any injury the employee states happened at work or is related to work must be reported. A non-work related injury that is not reported cannot be properly investigated and denied, which would result in unnecessary exposure for VenSure and our client. If the client feels the claim is not work related, clients should notify us when reporting the claim. There is a section on the Employer’s Report of Injury Form (within the Claim Reports Procedures Packet) for clients to write details as to why the client believes the claim is not work related. The claim will then need to be investigated for compensability. In addition, we will need all available information pertaining to the claim. If possible, the clinic where the claimant is sent for treatment should be notified of the questionability and reasons why, so the doctor is better prepared to address causation. Once enough information is gathered to support that the claim is not work related, the claim will be denied.

Where do we send an employee for treatment?

Employees should be sent to an occupational clinic or, if there’s not one in the area, to an urgent care. Only in EMERGENCY cases should clients send them to a hospital. For more details on where to send employees for treatment, please see Claims Uncovered Part 1.

What happens when an employee is sent to the clinic?

When an employee goes to the clinic, they should have a post-accident drug screen performed. This should be on the protocol at the clinic. However, if it is not yet set up in the protocol, the client will need to request the drug screen. The doctor will also diagnose and treat the employee for any injuries. Work status will be addressed, and the doctor will determine if the employee should be off of work, assigned to light duty, or is ok to put back on regular duty.

What happens after the employee goes to the doctor and is placed on light duty?

If an employee is placed on light duty status, then a light duty position needs to be provided. It doesn’t have to be a modification of their regular position; it can be a completely different position in the company. It can even be a made-up, temporary position with any reasonable tasks that are within the claimant’s restrictions. If our client company cannot find a light duty position that can accommodate the restrictions given by the doctor, your VenSure Claims Coordinator should be notified. We will then work with the client company to provide a light duty position through our Alternative Light Duty (ALD) program. For further information on the ALD program, please look for our upcoming article on this topic or email Gin Harper, Claims Liaison, at claims@vensure.com.

What happens if an employee is taken off of work?

An employee who is taken off of work by the accepted treating physician will be losing wages. Each state has a waiting period, a period of time where benefits are not due for wage loss. In most states, this waiting period is 3 to 7 days. If the employee goes past the state’s mandated waiting period, the employee is then eligible for benefits. To find out what your state’s mandated waiting period is, please contact your Claims Coordinator. You can also find these details on your state’s workers’ compensation website.

What if our employee has retained an attorney?

Our client company needs to notify us as soon as they become aware of an attorney or receives any paperwork from an attorney. VenSure will need copies of any forms  or notifications that were sent to the client.

Considering all this…

If a question or problem arises regarding workers’ compensation claims, please feel free to contact the Claims Department. We would love to work together to help our clients understand what to do in order to best impact each claim.


Ashley Johnson
, Claims Coordinator

Claims Uncovered: Part I

This series covers common questions our clients have regarding workers’ compensation claims.

Q&A with Ashley Johnson, Claims Coordinator

How would you describe your job here at VenSure?

For the past 2 years, I have been a Claims Coordinator at VenSure Employer Services. I evaluate, process, and handle the workers’ comp claims for assigned clients. I work with the adjuster, the claimant, and clients to attain the best outcome for each claim. I also update claims, as necessary, answer inquiries, and bring claims toward resolution.

What do you do for fun when you’re not working?

Outside of work, my main passion is horseback riding. I am currently riding an Arabian Gelding and do mostly trail riding in the Arizona desert. When I am not horseback riding, I like to scrapbook and make cards. I love being creative and making things for other people.

Let’s dive into the world of claims and the commonly asked questions you hear from clients…

What is the claims reporting process, and what role does VenSure play in it?

The basic claims reporting process is:

  1. Our client company submits the required claims reporting forms via fax or email to 480-289-6220 or claims@vensure.com within 24 hours of their knowledge of the injury.
  2. The claims intake clerk uses the provided information and forms to fill out the First Report of Injury (FROI), a state form which is required in all states when reporting a workers’ comp claim.
  3. VenSure then submits the claim to Carl Warren and Company within 24-48 hours, as required.
  4. We do a 3-point-contact. We contact: (1) the employee, (2) the medical provider and (3) the client for any additional information. The 3-point-contact is made within 24 hours of the reported claim.

Who is Carl Warren? How do they relate to our clients, and why is there a 3rd party adjuster working on the claims?

We work with a third party vendor, Carl Warren and Company, to process state forms and issue claimants benefits according to each state’s requirements. We are extremely happy to have an excellent working relationship with Carl Warren.

What claims forms do our clients need to fill out and where can they find them?

Clients can go to the Client Center, located within our website, to download all forms they need to fill out. The Claim Reports Procedures Packet includes the three required forms: the Employee’s Report of Injury, Supervisor’s Report of Injury, and Employer’s Report of Injury. All reports need to be filled out thoroughly. We also have an Accident Investigation form that can be filled out. This is particularly helpful in the event of a severe accident, a questioned claim, or an incident caused by a non-Vensure employee. It is important that all employees sign the Consent for Release of Medical Information. This gives us the leverage to obtain the necessary medical information, especially if the employee goes to a hospital or has had previous injuries that we need to investigate. If there are witnesses, statements should be taken and submitted to VenSure. If the employee provides any medical documents, the medical documents will need to be submitted to claims@vensure.com for proper handling. The more information we have, the better prepared we will be to successfully handle the claim, bringing about the best outcome of the claim.

What if the injured employee does not want to be treated?

If an employee is injured and does not want to be treated, we have a Medical Refusal form that they can sign, declining the treatment. Our client company still needs to submit the claim reports and include the signed refusal to treat. We will then set the claim up as a Report Only and will keep the information on file in the event the employee decides to pursue a claim. An employee can pursue treatment even after signing a medical refusal form. Report Only means that a claim is kept on file and is not reported to the carrier.

What should our client do when they find out an employee has been injured?

In non-emergency cases, our client needs to ensure all required claim reporting forms are completed including the employee form. Next, the employee will be sent to an occupational clinic for medical treatment.

In urgent cases, where the employee needs to be treated at an occupational clinic prior to filling out forms, our client should fill out all of the forms and submit them to VenSure without the employee form to meet our 24 hour claim reporting requirement. The employee will need to complete their required forms as soon as they are able.

In the case of an emergency, the employee may need to be taken to the hospital and will not be in a condition to fill out their form. In this case, VenSure needs to know about the claim immediately. Our client should not wait to fill out the reporting forms. Our client should either call our workers’ comp line at 1-800-409-8958 or send us an email at claims@vensure.com. After a call or email is made notifying us of the claim, the client must submit the reporting forms in order to finalize the report.

What is First Aid? Do clients still have to submit the standard claims reports?

A First Aid claim is a claim that, due to a lack of severity, is reviewed by the Claims Manager and determined to be First Aid eligible. Claims are reviewed on a case by case basis to determine if they are First Aid. First Aid means that the client agrees to pay all of the bills related to the claim. After review, we contact the client to determine if they would like to keep the claim as First Aid. If so, the medical invoices can be reviewed to reduce our client’s out of pocket costs.

Considering all this…

VenSure views our relationship with each client as a team effort. We want to accomplish the same goals as our clients in regard to handling the claim properly, keeping costs down, and bringing the claim towards resolution. Our client can positively affect the claims process, especially at the beginning of the claim, by providing timely claim notification, along with details regarding the incident. VenSure works as a team with the adjusters, the claimants, and our clients to bring about the best outcome of each claim.

Stay tuned for Part II of Claims Uncovered…

In the meantime, should you have any questions regarding the claims process, please contact claims@vensure.com.


Ashley Johnson
, Claims Coordinator