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Coronavirus Return To Work – Top 10 Issues For Workers Comp


Pending Post Coronavirus Return To Work Issues – Top 10 Preparations

Coronavirus return to work issues will become the buzzword phrase in Workers Comp over the next few months (rightfully so).   Any references to a return to work mean all employees except for #9 below.

Picture Coronavirus return to work microscopic
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This complete list may not apply to your company whether you are an insurance agency, claims department, employer, safety and risk manager, etc.

The Top 10 Issues are:

  1. The learning curve or the accident curve.  One of the best formulas I was taught while obtaining my actuarial degree was the learning curve.  I will save you having to look at the formula.   The only thing I will say about it is that the formula involved logarithms.   Even very experienced employees tend to have more accidents when returning to work.  The machine or process that they may have used compares to starting over again.

    Workers in protective masks coronavirus return to work and suit in laboratory
  2. COVID presumptions AOE COE – NCCI produced a great chart on the state activities concerning legislation that will be updated weekly.  You should check that chart out – nice work NCCI.  Here is the link. 
  3. In case of a workers’ comp accident, make sure the medical facilities in your medical treatment network have enough staff to handle your injured employee(s).  Waiting for hours to be treated for an injury is not the best way to start off a claim.  This recommendation is the most important of the Six Keys.
  4. Make sure that you are not overpaying premiums to your carrier – especially if you are returning a small number of workers to start your business up again.  If you are renewing a policy and your workforce is going to be smaller, discuss with your agent about lowering the deposit premium.  Caveat – if you start with a few employees, have your deposit premium reduced, and then fully staff, be ready for the premium audit bill.

    Businesswoman coronavirus return to work wearing H1N1 mask and holding a piggy bank
  5. Reporting claims to your carrier or TPA – Who is now responsible for reporting your claims if your company did not staff up completely?  Does this person know how workers comp works?  Do they have a copy of your medical referral network that you use to treat injured employees? Do they have the info in #6?
  6. Carrier and TPA Contact List Do you know who is handling your claims at this point?  Is there a new contact email or phone to reach the claims adjusters on your file?  They could be working from home which would likely change the phone number to call them.   Emails are still the best adjuster contact.
  7. Remotely starting up – if your company has decided to work remotely before actually physically going back to their workplaces, you may need all the bandwidth you can muster.  Check out this article to see how to speed up your connection by 100% with an old school trick.  This trick works.  I use it if I am hosting the webinar or video meeting.  Hint – get out a CAT-5 cable.
  8. Traveling for work – when you have employees that drive as part of their work, #1 above will heavily apply.   Even familiar driving routes may seem different to an outside employee after weeks of not working or working out of their homes.  The learning or accident curve applies to outside workers.

    Globe wearing coronavirus return to work gas mask
  9. Temporarily Totally disabled employees – if an injured employee was unable to return to work before the COVID crisis, how will you now return them to work if the treating physician releases them – have them work from home? Modified duty may be complicated to provide in the current environment.
  10. Check with your legal counsel more than you did previously.   I recommend #2 above and check with your legal counselor on interfacing workers’ comp and all the new laws that are in place.  None of these 10 recommendations should be taken as legal advice.  The coronavirus return to work varies so much from state to state.
  11. Bonus – I do realize that many businesses may not start again for weeks if not months in certain states.  Keep this list whenever your state allows your business to start up again.

Please do not consider any of the recommendations as legal advice only as a checklist for a coronavirus return to work for your employees.


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James J Moore - Workers Comp Expert

Raleigh, NC, United States

About The Author...

James founded a Workers’ Compensation consulting firm, J&L Risk Management Consultants, Inc. in 1996. J&L’s mission is to reduce our clients’ Workers Compensation premiums by using time-tested techniques. J&L’s claims, premium, reserve and Experience Mod reviews have saved employers over $9.8 million in earned premiums over the last three years. J&L has saved numerous companies from bankruptcy proceedings as a result of insurance overpayments.

James has over 27 years of experience in insurance claims, audit, and underwriting, specializing in Workers’ Compensation. He has supervised, and managed the administration of Workers’ Compensation claims, and underwriting in over 45 states. His professional experience includes being the Director of Risk Management for the North Carolina School Boards Association. He created a very successful Workers’ Compensation Injury Rehabilitation Unit for school personnel.

James’s educational background, which centered on computer technology, culminated in earning a Masters of Business Administration (MBA); an Associate in Claims designation (AIC); and an Associate in Risk Management designation (ARM). He is a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a licensed financial advisor. The NC Department of Insurance has certified him as an insurance instructor. He also possesses a Bachelors’ Degree in Actuarial Science.

LexisNexis has twice recognized his blog as one of the Top 25 Blogs on Workers’ Compensation. J&L has been listed in AM Best’s Preferred Providers Directory for Insurance Experts – Workers Compensation for over eight years. He recently won the prestigious Baucom Shine Lifetime Achievement Award for his volunteer contributions to the area of risk management and safety. James was recently named as an instructor for the prestigious Insurance Academy.

James is on the Board of Directors and Treasurer of the North Carolina Mid-State Safety Council. He has published two manuals on Workers’ Compensation and three different claims processing manuals. He has also written and has been quoted in numerous articles on reducing Workers’ Compensation costs for public and private employers. James publishes a weekly newsletter with 7,000 readers.

He currently possess press credentials and am invited to various national Workers Compensation conferences as a reporter.

James’s articles or interviews on Workers’ Compensation have appeared in the following publications or websites:

  • Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS)
  • Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Bloomberg Business News
  • WorkCompCentral.com
  • Claims Magazine
  • Risk & Insurance Magazine
  • Insurance Journal
  • Workers Compensation.com
  • LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites
  • Various trade publications


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