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Study Says Big Employers Must Provide Better Workplace Safety DataThe Center for Safety and Health Sustainability recently released a study claiming that the world's top employers should be held to more rigorous standards in reporting workplace safety data. Rating organizations track how corporations perform on and comply with occupational health and safety standards. Many corporations voluntarily provide the data, but the study states that the self-reported data is inconsistent in its participation and accuracy. CSHS believes that OHS standards should be part of a business' sustainability plan because occupational hazards can cause work-related injuries and medical conditions that may require worker's compensation.

The Study

CSHS' study focused on employers that were listed in Corporate Knights' “Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations.” Researchers looked at OHS data from June to December 2016 that corporations had voluntarily posted on their websites. OHS data analysts consider several safety indicators, such as:

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Receiving Workers' Compensation After TerminationAn Illinois employer's responsibility for workers' compensation benefits can continue even after firing the employee for cause. The 2010 Illinois Supreme Court ruling on Interstate Scaffolding Inc. v. the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission said that a terminated employee was entitled to continued temporary total disability benefits until his medical condition had stabilized. The decision established protections for workers' compensation recipients who are fired for reasons unrelated to their injuries. However, a recent Illinois appellate court decision shows that there are situations when that ruling may not apply.

The Case

In Holocker v. the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, the claimant had been injured while operating a crane on the job. As a result of the incident, he suffered:

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Posted on in BGL Law
Work Factors That Cause Mental IllnessMental health injuries resulting from work are more difficult to identify than physical injuries, but that does not make them any less debilitating. Mental illness can prevent you from focusing on work and handling the stresses that come with your job. In order to treat the illness, you need time off from work and therapy from a mental health professional. Whether your job-related injuries are mental or physical, you can be entitled to workers' compensation benefits to pay for medical expenses and lost wages. Your employer and its insurer are likely to fight you on a physical injury claim. Mental illness claims are met with even more skepticism because:

  • Unlike a physical injury, a mental illness may not have visible symptoms;
  • A societal prejudice persists against people with mental illnesses;
  • The workplace factors that create mental illness can be difficult to identify; and
  • An insurer may question why other employees working in the same environment are not filing mental illness claims.

To receive workers' compensation benefits for a mental illness, you must prove how your job caused psychological damage and why you were uniquely affected. There are several job-related factors that can lead to a mental illness:

  1. Traumatic Event: A person who witnesses a violent or disturbing event while working may suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or other illnesses. This most commonly occurs with first responders to emergency situations but is possible at any job. Traumatic events are helpful evidence when filing a workers' compensation claim because you can point to a specific instance that caused your illness.
  2. Demanding Job: Stress is a common workplace problem that can cause depression, anxiety and emotional breakdowns. Because of its commonality, citing stress may not be enough to receive workers' compensation benefits. You need to explain how your job is uniquely stressful as compared to other jobs or your fellow employees. For instance, your employer may be excessively demanding or hold you to unfair standards as compared to your coworkers.
  3. Workplace Harassment: It may not be a single event, but continued harassment at your job can chip away at your mental health. Your coworkers or your supervisors may act abusively or discriminate against you. If this behavior continues despite your reasonable efforts to stop it, you may be entitled to compensation for expenses related to your mental suffering.

Mental Health Claims

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Proving Your Permanent Total DisabilitySome employees who are injured as a result of their work must seek disability benefits because they are no longer able to perform their jobs. The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission uses several classifications to determine the severity of the disability:

  • A temporary disability will gradually improve to the point that the worker can fully function;
  • A permanent disability is not expected to ever improve;
  • A partial disability limits the work the employee can do, in level of performance and duration; and
  • A total disability means the employee cannot do any work.

The most severe classification is permanent total disability, which will likely prevent the employee from ever working again. An employee who qualifies for PTD can receive benefit payments for the rest of his or her life. Because the employer will be responsible for the payments, it will likely contest whether the employee qualifies for the benefits. In order to receive PTD benefits, you need to prove that you are unable to work or obtain employment.

What is PTD?

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Illinois May Create Non-Profit Workers' Compensation InsurerThe cost of workers' compensation insurance is a hot-button issue in Illinois. Some politicians, including Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, have proposed limiting the qualifying conditions for workers' compensation and capping the compensation claimants can receive. Opposing politicians believe insurers are driving up premiums for their own profits. A group of Illinois lawmakers want to create a non-profit insurance provider called the Illinois Employers Mutual Insurance Company, which would offer competitive workers' compensation coverage for small- and medium-size businesses. A bill has already passed the Illinois House of Representatives but will need to get through the Illinois Senate and Rauner. If the bill is passed, the new insurance company would affect some Illinois residents seeking workers' compensation.

How It Works

More than 20 states have created non-profit insurance companies similar to what Illinois is proposing. The Illinois Employers Mutual Insurance Company's mission would be to offer workers' compensation policies to local businesses at affordable prices. While it would not be a state-run organization, it would have connections to the state:

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