July 31, 2023 - Steven Keppler
I'd like to send my heartfelt greeting to all members of Branch 157. I hope you are having a summer filled with good fortune and safety both on and off the job. I would like to address one of the most common calls received at the union hall, ON THE JOB INJURIES. I'll start by stating the obvious. The job has gotten much harder. The street times on routes are longer, we are made to carry more bundles of mail, large amounts of oversized parcels, up and down steps on uneven surfaces every day. This has obviously led to more on the job injuries both traumatic and non-traumatic. I cannot stress enough, the importance of handling these injuries as soon as you possibly can to avoid an interruption in pay and a clear course to effectively treating your injury.
The first type of injury I'll talk about is a "traumatic injury". A traumatic injury is an injury that you can pinpoint exactly where and when it happened. Normally this is a slip, trip, or fall. It also could be a strain or pull of a joint or muscle. The first piece of advice I would give all letter carriers is to report an injury as soon as possible to your immediate supervisor. You may experience an incident where you sustain an injury, but you're not sure if it's a serious injury. You should, at the very least, report the incident. If you feel as though you are alright, you can state that you "are not seeking medical attention at this time". Although FE- CA allows you up to three years to file a claim from the date of injury, I can't stress enough, the importance of reporting the injury as soon as it happens. The form used to report a "notice of traumatic injury" is a CA-1. When a CA-1 is filed, you will be required to write a statement explaining in detail how the injury happened. It is important that you obtain a CA-16 from your supervisor. This is the authorization form for immediate medical treatment. This treatment should be by a physician of your choice. Also you should obtain a "Duty Status" form CA-17. The left side of this form should be completely filed out by the supervisor. This form will give the treating physician a clear depiction of your job requirements and allows the physician to determine how much, if any, of these duties you can still perform. It is very important to get a CA-17 filled out at your initial appointment and all subsequent doctor's visits. This is the document that the Office of Workers Compensation uses to determine your work status. This can have an effect on your compensation benefits.
The other type of injury I'll cover are "Occupational Disease" or a "non-traumatic injury". This is an injury, illness or condition that was sustained by the employee as the direct result of the work environment over a period of time longer than one work day or shift. In other words, this condition is something that happened over time. This particular condition does not have the same reporting requirements that a traumatic injury has. When your personal physician gives you a diagnosis of your condition, you explain what you do every day and ask if the condition is related to your duties as a letter carrier. If the physician relates the condition to your duties, he needs to write a narrative giving his opinion on how the diagnosis is related to your work duties. The form used to report an occupational illness or injury is a CA-2. Along with the CA-2, you are required to submit a statement, a narrative from your physician and as always a CA-17 (Duty Status Report). Just as you would with filing a CA-1, you need to get a CA-17 filled out every time you visit your treating physician. Again, I want to express how important it is to have the physician fill out the CA-17 as it has a big effect on your compensation benefits.
The best way to file a clean is to register and file your claim using ECOMP. the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs electronic claim filing portal. Filing electronically saves time and makes it easier to manage your claim and communicate with OWCP. You can register and file a claim on your smartphone, tablet or computer. If you don't have a device to file a claim, the Postal Service must allow you to file your claim on a postal computer. Once you have registered in ECOMP, you can file your claim. The national webpage at NALC.ORG has information under: "Workplace Issues" and "Injured on the job" regarding filing an ECOMP account. I realize at times this can be a confusing process, especially if you've never been through it before. lust remember, we are always available at the local union hall to answer any questions and give you the proper direction you need. My last bit of advice would be; after reporting the injury to your immediate supervisor, your next call should be to Branch 157 at (215)824-4800 to ensure you are properly handling the situation. This will enable us to effectively assist you with the direction for treatment and avoid an interruption in your wages.
Please Be Safe,
Keystone Branch 157