Posts Tagged ‘Worker’s Compensation Act’

Drug Testing Can Greatly Reduce Workers’ Compensation Costs

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

According to CAI’s most recent Policies and Benefits survey, 30% of employers are not conducting drug tests.  Besides the obvious benefits of having a drug-free workplace, another side benefit from drug testing is that it may reduce your workers compensation costs.  On the one hand, employees who are under the influence are more likely to experience injuries to themselves or others.  So the knowledge that you conduct post-accident drug and alcohol testing will dissuade most employees and therefore reduce accidents and costs.drugfreezone

Also, under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, no compensation will be paid for a workplace injury or death if it was proximately caused by, among other things, the employee’s intoxication, provided the intoxicant was not supplied by the employer (company social event) or being under the influence of a controlled substance listed in the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act (G.S. 90-86) unless it was prescribed by a doctor and the prescribed dosages were being followed.  Note, there isn’t an automatic denial of claims due to intoxication but odds are in the employer’s favor unless it can be proven the accident was in no way related to the “altered state” so to speak.

The best way to increase the odds that such claims will be denied is to incorporate a comprehensive drug and alcohol testing policy. Without such a policy, denial of workers compensation claims due to being under the influence may be harder to achieve.

North Carolina employers who drug test are required to comply with the NC Controlled Substances Examination Regulation Act which regulates notice requirements to examinees, requires approved laboratories and chain of custody safeguards, specifies conditions for applicant and employee testing, requires confirmation tests on positive samples, and entitles an employee who tests positive to have a retest, if requested, of the same sample at the employee’s expense.

Many states have a provision in their Workers’ Compensation law disqualifying an employee for compensation if the injury was caused by being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  A number of states also give discounts on Workers’ Compensation premiums (generally 5-7%) for implementing a Drug-Free Workplace Program.  CCH, the Members-only resource, provides State Law Summaries on Workers’ Compensation laws.

The US Department of Labor has resources for developing a drug-free workplace program.  While this is a requirement for federal contractors, the resources are helpful to all employers.  Consult the state law for specific requirements in other states.  Our drug-testing partner, PDSS, is also a resource for policy development, testing, and in-depth expertise in this area.

CAI encourages drug-free workplaces. Learn how drug testing programs can increase the efficiency and productivity of your organization at CAI.

Six Things N.C. Employers Need to Know About Workers’ Compensation

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Michael Sigmon of the law firm Brooks, Stevens and Pope, P.A. recently provided CAI members with insight on the fundamentals of workers’ compensation benefits and claims in North Carolina. Some of the key points from the presentation include the following:

1)      Basic Facts. Recovery under North Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act is an employee’s exclusive remedy for work-related injuries or diseases, except in the case of an injury resulting from the intentional misconduct of the employer.  Absent an intentional injury, an employee cannot sue his employer outside of workers’ compensation for damages resulting from occupational injuries caused by the employer’s negligence.  The employer in turn cannot avoid a workers’ compensation claim by showing that the employee’s negligence caused the injury or disease.

2)      Coverage. All employers in the State with three or more employees must provide workers’ compensation coverage.  Employers can obtain workers’ compensation insurance through an insurance carrier or be self-insured upon meeting certain requirements established by the Commission.

3)      Injuries in General. Except in the case of back injuries and hernias, an injury is compensable under the N.C. Workers’ Compensation Act if the injury was caused by accident, arose out of the employment, and was sustained in the course of employment.  The Act specifically provides that an “accident” shall not include “a series of events in employment occurring regularly, continuously, or at frequent intervals.”  The courts have defined the term “accident” to mean a separate, “unlooked for and untoward event which is not expected or designed by the injured employee,” such as a slip, trip, fall or other unexpected event that interrupts the usual work routine.

4)      Back Injuries. As noted in #3 above, a limited exception to the “injury by accident” requirement is made for back injuries.  To be compensable, back injuries need only to arise out of and in the course of employment and be a direct result of a specific incident.

5)      Routine Events. Injuries that occur during the performance of events that occur regularly during employment are generally not compensable under the Act.  For example, if an employee routinely performs heavy lifting and he or she injures his or her shoulder while performing their regular duties, the injury may not meet the definition of an “accident” as defined in bullet #3 above.

6)      Occupational Diseases. North Carolina General Statutes contain a list of recognized occupational diseases that are compensable under the Act.  However, any disease, other than hearing loss covered elsewhere in the Act, which is proven to have originated from employment or due to a particular trade and not as a result of a risk shared by the general public may be compensable.

It is unlawful for an employer to inhibit an employee from exercising their rights under the Workers’ Compensation Act or to retaliate against an employee for filing or collecting a workers’ compensation claim.  When in doubt, an employer should contact their workers’ compensation insurance carrier and seek advice regarding claim filing and management.

If you have questions in regard to workers’ compensation issues, please contact a member of the CAI Advice and Counsel team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Jeff Kubina