Labor Commissioner, Miguel R. Rivera, Sr. is proud to announce that the Indiana Department of Labor has awarded a pair of scholarships to the state’s annual conference on worker safety.
Commissioner Rivera stated, “The scholarship program is important because it allows companies that would not otherwise be able to afford to attend the conference the chance to experience what is available in their respective industry.”
The Dept. of Labor, in partnership with the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, offered two scholarships to attend the 2007 Health and Safety Conference and Exposition on February 13- 14, 2007.
The scholarships are offered through INSafe, a Division of the Indiana Department of Labor. INSafe will offer scholarships to Indiana’s small, minority-owned, or women-owned businesses to attend the 2007 Conference and Exposition at no cost. The scholarship will cover either a one or two day conference fee.
“INSafe’s goals are to assist businesses in becoming self sufficient in the implementation of their health and safety programs and to reduce workplace illnesses and injuries,” commented Rivera.
According to Rivera, the scholarships will increase Indiana worker safety and help small business owners. The Conference and Exposition scholarships are in addition to current scholarships that are offered as a partnership with the Indiana Department of Labor’s INSafe Division and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
Currently, scholarship opportunities exist to train employers and employees in General Industry and Construction. Courses that are being offered in conjunction with the scholarships include OSHA General Industry 10 and Forklift Safety.
Providing free onsite consultations, educational publications and training materials, along with group training, INSafe works to ensure Hoosier occupational safety and health. Deputy Commissioner—INSafe, Quindaro Cheatham remarked, “The training that is given during the conference is just the beginning of an effective safety and health program.”
Hoosier workplace safety and health is INSafe’s bottom line. Cheatham closed, “It is our hope that by using INSafe, employers can foster a safety culture and make their internal safety programs part of their daily activities.”
What exactly constitutes a first report of injury, and what exactly does the form look like for Indiana employers? I can hear you cynics out in the audience too, asking: “And why do we care about first reports of injury?” Well, wise guys and loyal readers alike, what we have here is one of the most basic forms in the workers’ comp system, one of the first used in any workers’ comp claim, and one of the most important—not just in Indiana, but in most states.
In some states, these first report of injury forms are filled out by the employees who were actually claiming to have gotten hurt at work, and in other states—like the state of Indiana—these forms are filled out by you, the employer. The type of information these forms include can best be demonstrated by taking a quick (but of course detailed) look at what the Indiana forms encompass. You wouldn’t anything less from me, right?
The Indiana first report of injury form starts by asking employers what the name of their insurance agent is, and what code they have. Each insurance agent has a different code, this is a friendly reminder to know you agent’s code, or at least have it on a form lying around somewhere easy to locate.
After that, the first report of injury form jumps right into important information about the employee, their job at your company, and the accident or injury itself. The forms asks that you fill in all about the equipment, machinery, chemicals, or any other materials that the employee was working with when they were injured or exposed. If the injury was a fall, for instance, here is where you would explain what the employee fell from, and onto what they fell. In another category, you have to explain where, if not at the company premises, that the injury occurred.
You’ll also have to input into the form when the employee’s disability started, who your claims administrator is, and what sort of employee they are—part time, full time, temporary, what have you.
What do you think happens when we move along those Midwestern states from Illinois to Indiana? Do you think the workers’ comp system from one state to the next is so different that we should talk about that new system? Yes? Great! I am glad you’re catching on, because, yes, we do have to cover the Indiana workers’ comp system because it is different than Illinois’ system, as well as the systems of every other state in the Union.
In Indiana, there is a Workers’ Compensation Board, whose job it is to run the workers’ comp program in the state. The Board sets the rates of compensation that injured workers receive—and their employers’ insurance has to pay—for each type of injury and disability. Usually, these rates get changed by the Board every July, though for the last four or five years—since 2002—these rates have stayed the same.
For instance, when it comes to what amount of money must be paid to workers for paychecks missed due to injury, the state rate is 66.66 percent of their wages. Their weekly payments cannot be less than $50, or the worker’s average wage. The most they can get per week is $588. Whatever they are receiving, they can get that amount for up to 500 weeks or up to $294,000.
On the other hand, when it comes to Temporary Total Disability—a short term injury that prevents employees from coming back to work in the near term—they can receive full medical benefits from the workers’ comp, and there are no limits to the money they receive and the amount of time they can receive it in.
As in most other states that we’ve looked at, employers have little choice when it comes to workers’ comp insurance. They must have it. In Indiana, no waivers are allowed. And there is no break for employers with only a few employees. All employers can get their needed coverage from private insurance carriers, whereas in some other states, there is a state run insurance fund that employers can buy from.
I think it is interesting to note that Indiana does not have any laws on the books specifically related lunches and breaks, except those pertaining to minors.
Indiana law requires that minors under age 18 must be given one or two uninterrupted meal or rest period of 30 minutes if they have been scheduled to work six hours or more. The state law does exempt several professions from this requirement. These include: farm laborers, domestic service workers, golf cadies, and newspaper carriers. Employees under 18 who have withdrawn from school or completed a vocational program are also exempt.
Although Indiana does not have a lunch and break law for those persons 18 and over, there are applicable federal rules for Indiana citizens. While Federal Law does not mandate specific breaks or meal periods, it does give guidance as to whether or not an employee should be paid during these times. Short breaks are usually 20 minutes or less, and should be counted as hours worked. Genuine “meal periods” are usually 30 minutes or more, and do not need to be compensated as work time. For this to be the case, however, the worker must be completely relieved of his or her duties during the meal break. If the employee is still required to do any duties (even minor duties such as answering a phone), it can’t be considered a meal or lunch period and must be paid.
Federal law also contains other provisions related to employee pay during times of waiting, sleeping and traveling. Whether or not waiting time needs to be considered paid work hours depends on the situation. If an employee is allowed to do something of his or her choosing while waiting for another task to be finished or while waiting at the workplace for his or her services to be called upon, it is generally considered work time. On the other hand, if an employee is waiting to be called upon, but has great freedom to do what he or she wishes while on call (and has plenty of time to respond to the call), it is not generally considered paid work time.
Another issue I find comes up in the area of work hours is the issue of travel time. The general rule of thumb is that time spent in the normal day’s commute to and from work is not considered paid working time. However, if an employee is traveling in the course of a days work, it must be considered paid work time.
When it comes to sleeping time, an employee required to be on duty less than 24 hours is considered to be “working” even if he or she is permitted to sleep during some of those hours when not busy. If an employee is on duty more than 24 hours, a sleeping period of no more than eight hours may be deducted from work hours. However, this can only be done if sleeping quarters are provided and at least five hours of uninterrupted sleep may be achieved by the employee.
Up-to-date information on the laws related to lunches, breaks and other pertinent labor issues can be found on the Indiana Complete Labor Law Poster.
Indiana requires that employers provide worker’s compensation insurance for their employees. Worker’s compensation insurance may be provided through a private insurance carrier, or employers may self-insure.
Employees are not required to contribute anything for this compensation. Some exceptions to the coverage rule include employers of agricultural workers and domestic servants.
My research reveals that any employee who is injured while at work must report the injury immediately to their supervisor, employer, or designated representative.
- Full medical benefits are provided to employees entitled to worker’s compensation benefits, with no time or monetary limits. The employer selects the physician who will provide care.
- Disability payments are made for temporary total disability in an amount determined by a percentage of the worker’s wage, subject to a weekly maximum payment amount. Payments may continue for up to 500 weeks, subject to a cap on the total payment received.
- I understand that payments are made for permanent total disability based on a percentage of the worker’s wage, subject to a weekly maximum payment amount. Payments may continue for up to 500 weeks.
- Payments for permanent partial disability are made based upon a percentage of the worker’s wage, subject to a weekly maximum payment.
- Benefits may be available for permanent disfigurement which impairs the future usefulness of opportunities of the employee. Physical and vocational rehabilitation benefits are available. With certain constraints and filing deadlines, occupational hearing losses may be covered.
- Death benefits are payable to an employee’s surviving spouse, or spouse and children, based upon a percentage of the employee’s wages, subject to a cap.
I read that employers must post a notice of their compliance, and list their preferred physicians, in their place of business.