When I visit with federal union members around the country, I always ask for a show of hands for how many people in the room are dealing with work-related injuries or who know someone who is. Without exception, 50% – 80% of the room raise their hands. Nearly everyone either is dealing with a work injury or knows someone else who is.
According to OSHA’s Federal Injury and Illness Statistics for 2016, only 3.19% of federal employees had work injury / illness cases.
So, is it 3% or is it 50%-80%?
Here’s the answer. At the bottom of the page, it says that the number does not include cases that were denied.
Denied OWCP work injury claims are a nationwide epidemic for injured federal employees. So, why are work injury claims denied? Answer: Because there’s also an epidemic shortage of qualified OWCP-trained doctors that know how to show causation and get these claims approved.
Injured federal workers are too often told to find their own doctors, with zero guidance and zero information about which doctors actually specialize in OWCP. Management sends them to company doctors. These are generally very good doctors, but have no understanding of OWCP. Upon being asked for advice, some people tell injured employees to go look online or to go to their primary care doctors. Looking online does no good if there’s no qualified OWCP doctors in the area and primary care doctors simply don’t understand OWCP. Worst of all, many, if not most, injured federal employees just give up. They get so frustrated that they decide to just live with it. None of this is acceptable.
The annual published injury rate is also so low because of the massive lack of knowledge for what to do when someone is hurt at work. OWCP has a 30-year old form called a CA-10, “What a Federal Employee Should Do When Injured at Work.” The bottom of the form says to “Post on Employees’ Bulletin Board”. It’s not – ever. 100% of federal employees that I talk to say that they’ve never seen this form posted on their bulletin boards at work. This changes after we give them copies to post.
We believe that when federal employees are better educated about their rights and responsibilities, they will be better equipped to get the help they need when they are hurt at work. Who knows what the actual injury rate is each year? What we do know is that it’s far more than what’s reported. Most injured federal employees are not being counted because they can’t find a doctor who knows what they’re doing or they don’t know what they should do when they’re hurt at work.
Federal Injury Centers is working to solve these two very serious problems for federal employees. Our OWCP work injury doctors in McKinney, TX, Frisco, TX, Dallas, TX and in Boston work with federal employees and their union leaders weekly to educate them on how to get the help they need when they’re hurt at work.
Federal employees make this country go. When they break, we have to fix them. That starts with educating them on the complex OWCP federal workers comp system. We want all federal employees to be counted.