I spent part of a “nearly summer-like” Sunday putting up Christmas decorations last weekend, so it’s time to talk about some holiday season workers’ compensation topics.
More falls when you fallback? If you are like me, you probably feel a little off the Monday after a time change. But does feeling a little off lead to more work injuries or accidents?. Studies say that while losing an hour of sleep during the spring ahead leads to more injuries, falling back in the fall doesn’t lead to more injuries. Experts believe this is because the fallback means people don’t lose sleep. (Parents of young children and pets may beg to differ about an extra hour of sleep)
But studies also indicate that more car accidents take place at sunset and more take place in the autumn than in the spring. I will often travel to points in central and western Nebraska from Lincoln during afternoon and night hours. I am glad I don’t have any road trips planned this week.
Holiday job injuries – While statistics may not bear out a correlation between the fall time change and work injuries, statistics do show new employees are more vulnerable to work injuries. During the holidays many people take on holiday jobs. Holiday jobs are increasingly delivery and warehousing jobs that have a higher injury rate than traditional retail jobs. So in short, many workers may be more vulnerable to work injuries over the holiday season. Unfortunately, workers hurt doing a part-time or second job are limited to disability benefits based on those wages rather than on any income loss at their main or full-time job.
Voluntold workers – I saw and heard my first Salvation Army bell ringer today. Last year I wrote about how The Salvation Army partners with insurers and employers to employ injured workers as “volunteer” bell ringers. These assignments are particularly popular with employers that lack light or alternative duty programs.
I would imagine that these programs could become more popular due to business concerns over alleged labor shortages. If you can’t find workers to do jobs, you can always try coercing injured workers with the prospect of losing their workers’ compensation benefits and their job for refusing a volunteer assignment.
I went off on these arrangements last year. In short, their benefits are oversold and they create lots of practical problems for injured employees. They also re-enforce the power imbalance between injured workers and employers.