How To Choose The Right Workers Compensation Codes for Manufacturing Companies

Workers Compensation Insurance provides protection for both the employer and employees. It’s smart for any business to carry workers comp coverage, but if your company is in New York State, it’s also the law. Every business with one or more employees must have insurance and if coverage is ignored or lapses, large fines and penalties can follow.

Different industries of course present different levels of risk so the premiums will be different for every business. The New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board, which we will refer to as the NYCIRB, sets classification codes for every type of job. These codes are divided into the following five categories: manufacturers, wholesalers, truckers, contractors, and retailers. Each of these groups has a list of job types that are divided into five levels. Level one job types are faced with the lowest risks and level five are faced with the highest risks. The higher the number codes results in higher premiums.

It’s a good idea for employers to evaluate their own employees before each mandatory audit. Audits are used to assess the workforce and readjust the estimated premium to the actual number of employees, job types, and hours worked. Since some workers may fit in to several different levels of codes when they do different work, the employer will benefit from detailed records. If there are no codes assigned at the time of the audit, the auditor will assign only the highest code which applied to a given employee.

There are codes set for different types of manufacturing and then codes set for different jobs done for specific industries. Let’s take a look at one industry; box manufacturing. There are seven sub-categories for box manufacturing: cigar-wood, folding paper-NOC, set up paper, set up paper MA, and wood frames. Each of these categories is assessed with a different rate. Of course box manufacturers may also have fork lift drivers, janitors, receptionists, and many other workers. Each worker must be given their own code or set of codes.

New York State Employers have three choices in dealing with the NYCRIB codes. They can allow the auditor to assign codes, but this may lead to higher premiums. They can sift through the 35 pages of codes by themselves. There is a third option, they can bring in experts who understand the intricacies of these regulations and will aid businesses in getting the best premium rate possible.

Rates for all class codes change from carrier to carrier. There are many professionals who are eligible for discounts if they know the right place to go.

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Workers’ Compensation Rights – Understanding Employers and Employees Workers’ Compensation Rights

Many of us put in our 40 hours, more or less, of work each week. Do we stop to think about what would happen if we had an accident while on the job? Many of our jobs do not require physical stamina but mishaps can still occur. Knowing what one’s Workers Compensation rights are before they are needed will benefit both the employer as well as the employee.

Every state has set into place a unique set of rights for both the employer as well as the employee if an event of bodily harm were to occur. Every employer is to provide a copy of these rights to their employee’s; usually the information is provided at the time of the hiring as well as posted where all employees can view them. It is not imperative that the rights are read, although they should be, it is a good idea to know that the workers compensation rights do exist and how to get proper assistance if needed.

In the event that bodily harm occurs during working hours and while on the clock, one’s immediate supervisor must be contacted as soon as possible. It is imperative that the employer knows of the incident. This may sound like a waste of time, especially if the harm is minor, but in reality it is not. The incident must be noted in the employees’ record for future reference, this is in case the injury becomes more serious and the appropriate medical care can be properly given per State workers compensation rights laws.

If an injury does occur and the assigned workers compensation doctor states that the employee must be off work for a certain amount of time, the employee can receive financial benefits. Financial payments that are generated are based upon the worker’s average weekly wages. For the State of Oklahoma and, the most current (year 2010) State of Oklahoma Permanent Partial Disability or PPD rate is computed at 70% up to a maximum of $323.00.

Oklahoma workers compensation rights are provided per the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Act which follows current state legislative and Court changes. If circumstances require additional funds or the funds are denied, the employee may submit an appeal. Depending upon the situation, legal counsel may be necessary for assistance in fully understanding the laws as well as the steps that may need to taken to appeal with the State.

Finding an attorney who is knowledgeable in both the common laws as well as the State’s workers compensation laws is important as this will make the appeal process go smooth within the Court system as well as it is more likely that the employee will receive a higher settlement than if appealed themselves.

Not being able to work due to an injury that occurred while on the job is not what any employee or employer wants to happen. Understanding one’s workers compensation rights is beneficial so that in the event that a mishap does occur, the financial compensation process will be less stressful and move at a quicker pace. Having an attorney, if needed, who can help with getting the most from workers compensation rights for either the employee or employer is key to a successful case for everyone.

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Read Before Settling Your Worker’s Compensation Claim

Worker’s compensation insurance is beneficial for both the employer and the employee. This is because while it denies the employee the right to sue the employer in the case of work related injury, illness or disability caused by the employer’s negligence, it entitles the employees to compensation in case of such injuries regardless of who is at fault. The amount to be received by an individual is not determined by the cause if the accident whether or not it was the workers own fault. The right to worker’s compensation is, however, lost if the injury is caused as a result of intoxication or where there is intention to cause injury.

The need to settle

The payment of worker’s compensation may lead to some disputes. In this case the claim is not paid till the dispute is solved. In case of a dispute, the parties may need to seek the aid of the state worker’s compensation board, and more often there will be the need to settle. While settlement may be a good idea as it saves on time and prevents the severing of the worker- employer relationship, there are a few things that one needs to know before agreeing to settle.

What happens in case of a settlement?

In most situations, when the worker’s compensation case is ongoing the employee receives weekly benefits for the injury. When the employee agrees to settle however, he or she cannot receive these weekly benefits.

Depending on the state, the medical payments may or may not continue. Some states require the insurer to pay the medical benefits even after the settlement of the case. In most cases after a settlement however the insurer is never willing to continue with the medical payments. This may lead to the need for a claim to be filed with the board, forcing the insurer to make the medical payments.

Considerations to make before settling

Settling may at times seem to be the best decision but before you agree to settle there are a few considerations that one needs to make.

First the settlement has to be approved by the State Worker’s Compensation Agency. Once the proposal to settle is submitted to the agency, a hearing is held and the proposal is reviewed. A judge has to be satisfied that the agreement to settle was voluntary and that the terms of the settlement are favorable to the employee otherwise the proposal is denied.

In determining the amount of workers compensation settlement the amount of workers’ compensation benefits that one might be entitled to in the future and the likelihood of actually receiving those benefits are taken into consideration.

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Becoming a Light Worker in the Business World

Light workers are often times working two jobs. They hope to leave the “real” job but need their light worker job to create more income first. Let’s face it; light workers bring a renewed and refreshing set of services to humanity and our Mother Earth at this critical period. And, they struggle many times to make ends meet financially. This can be cured by assembling a periodic outreach plan that is methodical in approach. No one can promise overnight results but given a steady effort, new clients and customers will manifest. To make a leap from the “real” job requires faith and a tangible marketing effort.

Some people have a real phobia about marketing or outreach. There is a thinking pattern that if they are good enough then people will just show up. While that is a very praise worthy approach, it just doesn’t pan out in this three dimensional world. Think about it. The only reason you have your car, or got your home, or have your favorite recipes is because someone shared them with you or put an ad out there that you saw. You must be able to walk past that phobia if you are serious about having your own business and helping people to your full extent.

Most light workers lack the understanding of a quality outreach plan. The first and most crucial step is putting the Law of Attraction to work in your business. That is to say, what you focus your attention upon will manifest. When you focus on all the reasons and logic for why you don’t have a thriving business then those will appear. Hence the need for an outreach plan. It will be the details that you can focus your mind upon to manifest beneficial results: positive cash flow, new clients, and new opportunities to build your exposure.

A threefold strategy in your outreach is easy to implement and sustain. There are many ways and actions to take that will help you build you business. A few strategies include the following:

1. Provide a free call on periodic basis to offer your support.

Host a conference call or web meeting on a regular basis to inform folks. It’s a way to reach potential clients and to keep connected with current clients. Have a planned agenda for the call. Start with an innovation. Answer 10 common questions and how you can help solve them. Close with a blessing.

2. Educate potential clients and apply what you do to the world.

Set up a free newsletter to highlight what you are providing. You can use email and social media as distribution channels. If you are terrible writing newsletter than hire someone. How many new clients do you need to cover that cost – one or two a month? That is a well spent dollar. You can put a link to your newsletter in the signature of every email you send out, on your blog,…. get the idea?

3. Maximize social networking without a lot of labor.

Find a couple of social networking venues and work ‘em. Believe it or not, social networking is here to stay. You will not have to spend hours and hours glued to you computer to be successful here. Simply tie your network to your education efforts for starters. And, you want to build your exposure by connecting with others which is easy to do. Social networking is simply the 21st century method of sharing – it’s the water cooler gathering gone global.

Locating and using the help of experts can save you from reinventing the wheel. You don’t have to figure out every step of the path to increase your exposure. There are already plenty of good resources and experts you can put to work for you. Here are two of my favorites.

1. Nine Strategies to Grow Your Connections Guide.

This is a free tool that gives you over 150 resources to support your effort in building your exposure. Each strategy has specific components and all the contact information you’ll need to check it out.

2. Practice the Law of Attraction.

These are the folks that known around the world for their work with the Law of Attraction. They provide plenty of free tools and resources.

Once you have an outreach plan you have established your foundation. The next step is detailing the “being” and “doing” of your effort – the framework of your light worker business. Having a quality outreach plan isn’t just about having more money.

Building your exposure starts in your heart. It’s you making an authentic attempt to reach people in need. These are chaotic times right now and people who have been sleeping are waking up. Where will they go? Who can help them? When you make your best effort to connect to the world with your services and product you have made a dharmic move. The synchronicity of your divine essence takes over from there.

Here are the quick tips for building your business today.

A. Begin collecting email addresses from your clients.

B. Design your outreach plan using a minimum of three strategies.

C. Perceive your own success three times today and every day.

May your business flourish and your heart soar.

May you connect with your divinity every day.

May you, your clients, and your associates experience health, wealth, and peace.

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The Stress of the Exploited American Worker

When we think of exploited workers we normally think of sweat-shops in a third world country, where people work for pennies a day in horrific conditions. But there is a new class of exploited worker right here in the U.S.A., no matter how much money you make, or your professional status. This all-too-common situation is leading to skyrocketing levels of anxiety, depression, relationship problems, and children’s issues.

Sean and Amy come into my psychotherapy office. Though they are well-dressed, they look drawn and stressed. The tension between them is thick. Both work 15-hour days. One works in finance, the other, law.

They have both had to change jobs twice in the last three years since the financial meltdown. They feel insecure in their positions, and fear if they don’t work seven days a week, they will be replaced.

Sean is experiencing high levels of anxiety. He hates his incompetent boss and is being asked to do things he doesn’t feel good about ethically. He can’t concentrate and is having trouble sleeping.

Amy is depressed. They have two small children. She has to leave them in the hands of a nanny, because if she doesn’t work this hard she’ll be ostracized.

Sean and Amy are coming into therapy as one last-ditch try before divorce.

It seems like ancient history when one salary could be sufficient to have a nice house in the suburbs and provide a fairly nice lifestyle. Dad would be home by six, and the family would sit down to dinner together. What happened?

A recent article in the Huffington Post stated that though the economy is growing again, employment isn’t keeping pace with this growth. The reason? American workers are so productive. What does this mean? It means they are being exploited. When people work 100 hours a week and get paid for 40, of course you are going to get productivity.

Since 1980, the compact with the American worker has changed. In the past, the agreement between management and worker was that the company provided security, a decent wage, and good working conditions. In exchange, the worker offered their loyalty and good, hard work. Though there were many problems then, “Made in America” meant something pretty damn good. People worked 8-hour-days and lived more balanced lives and we still had the greatest economy in the world.

Today, workers are being offered none of that. Things are bad whether you are at the bottom of the ladder and need to work three jobs just to keep up with the gas bills, or you are on top and kept tethered to your blackberry 24/7. Most workers have no security, in terms of job, health care, or retirement. Wages have stagnated for decades. And workers need to work in ways that interfere with every other aspect of their lives.

The consequences are dire. In my practice, I am seeing many problems as a result of this. Because people can’t take care of themselves, I am seeing health problems. We clearly have an epidemic of stress related health problems in our country, from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, to obesity.

Addictions are through the roof. In order to cope with the stress, people are drinking and drugging at alarming rates.

Untold numbers are experiencing mental health problems. Anxiety and depression are everywhere.

Relationships are fragmenting. People aren’t forming life bonds with marriage rates plummeting, and those that do find relationships are having a hard time sustaining them, with divorce continuing to hover at 50%.

Children are suffering. Without having the continuous care of a primary parent, children are suffering in their education and are showing more emotional and cognitive problems than ever.

What can we do?

As painful and as impossible as it seems to do anything about this, with the advent of new technologies, there is a wonderful possibility for creating a new, humane world of work. Let us begin by imagining what this might look like. Together, if we can form this vision, we can move our world in this direction.

First of all, we need to imagine that we can live in a country where we make the best things and provide the best services in the world. And we can do that because we create a good life for people, not in spite of it. We need to create a world where relationship and personal fulfillment are as important as getting that work task done.

In order to accomplish this, we must re-imagine work. Here are a few ideas. What if companies hired couples to work 70 hour weeks total and the couple could split those hours any way they liked? This way, parents could be available for kids who had a snow day. How about if workers reviewed their bosses instead of the other way around? What if companies agreed to a certain income ratio between the guy at the top and the one at the bottom? What if the company guaranteed a cap on profits and shared the rest with the highest percentage going to the bottom? What if companies promised as part of their compensation package that they provided for workers to have a balanced life where relationships were valued as much as time in the office? What if people were allowed to work from home 3 days a week and could work any hours they wanted? What if companies utilized available technologies to limit travel, saving on carbon footprint, and keeping more families together? What if corporate owners, stock owners, management, and labor worked together with the intent of creating the happiest workforce?

Pie in the sky? Pollyanna? Could it really be that in 2011 the idea that you could have a decent life in America be only a crazy dream?

These are just a few starting ideas. If we put our heads together, we can make a difference. What do you think we need to do to change the nature of work in America to make this a better place and improve the lives of all our people?

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Tutorial on Workers’ Compensation

Whether you’re starting a new business or already in an established business, you need to know the basics of workers’ compensation insurance. Almost every business that has employees other than the owner is required by state law to carry workers’ comp. But you need to be careful in choosing a policy. The fact is many insurance companies can get remarkably tricky when it comes to writing policies – in their bag of tricks are such ploys as classifying the type of work your employees do incorrectly, miscalculating so-called modification factors, and making a variety of other types of mistakes which, oddly enough, result in insurance costs to you that are higher than they need to be.

Beyond needing to hold your own against your workers’ compensation insurance carrier, there’s another reason to take a few minutes to learn more about this type of insurance, namely, fraud. Workers’ compensation fraud is the second largest category of white-collar fraud in the United States today, second only to income tax evasion. According to industry observers, fraud occurs in almost a fourth of all claims. It can take the form of employee fraud (an employee who’s been in an accident claiming to be injured more seriously than he/she really is), employer fraud (harassing employees who put in claims or trying to deceive the insurance company regarding the number of the company’s employees), or insurance company fraud (wrongfully denying legitimate claims).

In many businesses, such as manufacturing and construction, workers’ comp is a major expense item – and also a major source of friction and confusion. But most business owners know little or nothing about how it works or how rates are calculated. It’s too complicated to cover in detail here, but I’ll try to touch upon most of the basics in this brief article.

Basics of Workers’ Compensation

If you are in the type of business that is mandated by state law to purchase workers compensation benefits, this is something to take seriously. In some states, notably Florida and California, businesses are getting shut down and owners prosecuted criminally for failure to carry this type of insurance. In most states you need it if you have one or more employees – California being one of the few that requires it even for one-person businesses.

In most states you can purchase an insurance policy from a workers’ comp insurance company; however in five states (OH, ND, WV, WA, WY) you must obtain coverage through that jurisdiction’s state-operated fund. These state operated funds are called “monopoly state funds.”

Note that thirteen states maintain state funds which compete with private insurers. So in those thirteen, you can buy your policy either from a private insurance company or from the state fund (CA, AZ, CO, MD, ID, MI, MN, MT, NY, OR, OK, PA, UT).

If for some reason your business is found to be especially risky, you will have to get your insurance from a so-called “assigned risk” fund, and it costs considerably more. Workers’ compensation is regulated primarily by the states (and Washington DC) so there are 51 separate sets of rules which govern benefits, premiums, and coverage. However, a so-called “rating bureau” called the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) has developed a manual used by many states to regulate how insurance companies calculate your rates. NCCI states rely almost completely on this manual, while some other states have developed their own manuals. For example, Nevada sticks closely to the NCCI manual, whereas California has developed its own manual.

Workers’ comp policies tend to seem complicated and abstruse to the uninitiated. In addition, you can’t rely entirely on your insurance agent to decipher the technical terms, options, and requirements – remember, he/she has a vested interest in selling you as expensive a policy as possible. So if your premiums turn out to be fairly considerable, it’s a good idea to have your policy reviewed by a lawyer with workers’ comp experience or a consultant specializing in this field.

For example, do you need a guaranteed-cost policy (a policy whose premiums remain the same no matter how many claims you file) or a loss-sensitive plan? The latter alternative will cut your costs but increase your exposure.

The basic formula nearly all insurance companies utilize to calculate your policy is to multiply a rate times hundred dollars of payroll. But what is this “rate”? Where does it come from? It is based on the classification of your company’s type of work performed. It’s always to your advantage to be in a relatively “safe” classification, such as clerical work, as opposed to a more injury-prone classification, such as construction. Experts warn that you should be vigilant that the insurance agent does not mis-classify your company – such a “mistake” can easily double your premiums.

What’s more, insurance companies inevitably apply an “experience” factor to your premiums. This is a circumlocution for a multiplier calculated on the basis of your company’s claims history. The more or larger your claims, the larger the experience factor.

Assigned Risk Plans Explained

So what can you do if every private insurer in your state turns down your application for insurance? In that case, you have to utilize the state’s assigned risk plan. This is expensive insurance. Yet, I’m told, many agents sell assigned risk insurance without bothering to mention it’s assigned, and the words “assigned risk” appear nowhere on the policy. Generally, rates and service are said to be better in NCCI states. However, even if your company is in an NCCI state you will probably get lower rates if you move to “voluntary” (i.e., not assigned risk) coverage as soon as possible.

Note that if you’re in a “monopoly” state – i.e, a state where there are no private insurers and you must use the monopoly state fund – you can still get put in an assigned risk plan. You should discuss this with your agent.

Some Tips Regarding Workers’ Compensation Insurance

- Your agent, working with his/her company’s underwriter, decides what classification codes to utilize in developing your premium rates, as well as the various other risk factors. Reportedly, mistakes and oversights are legion in these types of policies (usually favoring the insurance company), so review your policy carefully, preferably with the assistance of a professional who has experience in this field.

- Be sure to carefully read your policy’s Information Page in detail – it contains the most important details you need to check.

- You should be especially careful when your company hires independent contractors. If the independent contractor does not carry workers comp and is injured, you will be held responsible for all costs connected with the claim.

- Always make sure you indicate as named insured all legal entities which are in any way connected with your business. For example, if you own the building it’s in, you should be named on your policy as legal owner of the property, as well as owner of the business.

- Also you should be aware of federal workers’ comp exposures. In addition to state requirements, some federal legislation also imposes liabilities on employers. You can add coverage for acts such as the following to your workers’ compensation policy by endorsement (i.e., by adding a supplement): Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act (benefits to miners who contract black lung disease; Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (benefits to employees injured in maritime employment); and Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (housing and safety benefits to seasonal and migrant agricultural workers).

The NCCI Manual is not used for calculating rates in: Delaware, California, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Texas. (All other states use it.)

If either you or a professional you hire feels that your premium rates are not what they should be, based on the rules and specifications in the NCCI Manual (or other state rating manual), your initial step should be to contact your agent, say the experts, and request changes; if this doesn’t work, then you should directly contact NCCI or the appropriate state rating bureau and point out the errors in your policy as it is written.

Is your company required to pay workers’ compensation benefits to illegal aliens? According to experts, the answer depends on whether the illegal alien qualifies under your state’s statute as an “employee” working “in the service of” another under a “contract of hire.” Thus far, Ohio and New York courts have upheld the right of aliens to receive benefits; Wyoming, Virginia, and Florida have not.

Note that only Texas, among all the 50 states, does not require employers to carry WC insurance.

About Workers Compensation Fraud

Workers’ comp is a no-fault system for providing monetary benefits to injured or ill workers while at the same time shielding employers from lawsuits. But the system is wide open to fraud on a number of fronts. Employers, attempting to reduce premiums, may understate their total number of employees or misrepresent the type of work they do; workers may claim benefits they’re not entitled to, for example, by exaggerating the seriousness of an injury; even insurers themselves may intentionally miscalculate premiums and this is, unfortunately, not uncommon.

Surprisingly, it’s employer fraud that is the major type of workers’ comp fraud. According to a recent study reported by the National Commission on State Workmen’s Compensation Laws, over 13% of employers studied were operating without legally required workers’ compensation insurance. In addition, others were found to be cheating the system by intentionally misclassifying or underreporting their payroll or by falsely representing employees as independent contractors.

Of course the best-known type of workers’ compensation fraud – the kind most often covered by the media — involves workers claiming disabilities that don’t exist. Most insurance companies have in recent years set up internal Special Investigative Units (SIU’s) to deal with this type of fraud. Claims adjusters report suspicious cases to their company’s SIU’s, which then use surveillance, background checks,videotaping, medical records checks and other tools to document fraud, then turn the cases over to the Attorney General for prosecution. Criminal penalties to workers trying to game the system can be extremely severe.

As an example of how the SIU investigation system works, CompSource Oklahoma not long ago investigated a female claimant who was receiving permanent total disability benefits for back injuries from a slip-and-fall accident. The company’s SIU team found that while receiving these benefits she was listed on the Internet as an officer of an outdoor recreational club. Surveillance was set up and it was found that she was engaged in mountain hiking, carrying heavy items and other activities suggesting she was not disabled. Criminal charges were filed and a conviction obtained, resulting in a lengthy prison term.

The moral of the story is simply this: Don’t commit workers’ comp fraud. Insurance companies now employ teams of specialized investigators who will doggedly pursue a any suspicious claim and, if fraud can be proven, will press charges without any hesitation whatsoever.

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Filing Your Workers Compensation Claim

If you have been injured at work, you are entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim. Although most people have heard of workers’ compensation, the actual process of filing a claim can seem alien to many. By learning a bit about the process, anyone-even if they haven’t been injured-can better understand their rights, in the event that a workplace injury should happen.

One of the most important steps of filing for workers’ compensation is visiting a doctor. By going to a doctor, you can receive a formal assessment of your injuries and how incapacitating they are. In addition, because of the possibility of false claims, a doctor helps make sure your case is a legitimate one. After you are injured, be sure to see a doctor immediately. In many cases, there are deadlines and timing restrictions for your claim, so being expedient decreases the risk of your claim not being properly filed.

It is also necessary, of course, to inform your employer of the injury and to make it known that you are filing a claim. Many workplaces will require you to see a doctor, sometimes insisting on a particular one, before you can file. If you do see this doctor, do not be afraid to seek a second opinion. By visiting a doctor with a better knowledge of your medical history, you can have a more informed assessment of your case.

Often it is necessary to appeal the result of a claim. Insurance companies and the government are often reluctant to provide help in many cases that need it, even serious ones. As a result, the appeals process can sometimes be a necessary step. Never be afraid to appeal your case if you do not think the result is in your best interests.

The actual paperwork for a claim can be found online through either your state’s workers compensation office or through the federal Department of Labor. Once you’ve obtained these forms, look through them to familiarize yourself and begin entering your personal information. At this point it would be a very good idea to bring in the help of a lawyer.

A knowledgeable lawyer, like the Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Lowenthal & Abrams, PC, knows the ins and outs of the workers’ compensation filing process. They can help you better understand the process, what you need to do, and what you stand to get. For more information, contact Lowenthal & Abrams today.

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