Read this Before Planning Summer Projects
Learn the Risks
Summer break is when maintenance employees tackle straggling work orders, grounds crews keep property well-groomed, and teachers prepare classrooms for students’ return. Your organization might even welcome community volunteers who help with projects.
Productivity doesn’t pause between June and August. Neither do workplace accidents. Before the final bell rings, make sure you identify the risks associated with summer work and understand how your coverage addresses those risks.
Explain the Injury Reporting Process
In many cases, employees will report workplace injuries to their supervisor this summer, just as they do during the school year. But what if an employee is working alone during the day or night?
Everyone should know how to report injuries, find an Alliance health care provider, and get immediate medical treatment when necessary. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help preparing a packet that includes a medical verification form, an Optum medication card, and other documents injured employees need.
Report Injuries as Required
State reporting requirements apply to employees working during the summer. Even if it was the employee’s decision to come in, the employer must file a First Report of Injury. TASB will investigate the incident and determine whether the injury is compensable. To avoid exposure, some members close their campuses to off-duty employees.
Comply with Child Labor Law
Take special care when allowing students to work or volunteer on projects. Your organization should also consider that the Texas Child Labor Law prohibits children of certain ages from working in specific occupations.
Examples include operating or tending power-driven machinery other than office machines, as well as loading or unloading goods from trucks or conveyors unless children are participating in a school-supervised and school-administered work-study program approved by the Texas Workforce Commission.
To learn more about jobs that students are allowed to do under the law, read this TASB HR Services article.
Navigate Volunteers Carefully
It’s common for students, parents, and even employees to help with landscaping projects and other summer initiatives. Talk to your coverage provider and explain the risks to all stakeholders.
- Employees who come in over the summer for activities such as cleaning or decorating classrooms or preparing lesson plans may be considered in course and scope of employment if the activity furthers the business of their employer. If they are hurt, they may be covered by workers’ compensation.
- An employee who volunteers for an activity such as a tournament or athletic contest, which merely happen on a member’s property, may not be covered by workers’ compensation.
- If students are paid to work over the summer and they suffer on-the-job injuries, they may be eligible for workers’ compensation coverage.
- It is always best to immediately check with your coverage provider when an employee is injured on your property to ensure you meet your employer filing obligations and to allow an adjuster to investigate and determine if the incident is covered.
- Report third-party injuries or damage to your School Liability provider as soon as possible.
- If your organization is a Fund member with School Liability coverage, third-party bodily injury and property damage claims are likely to fall within your coverage. Generally, we will assert your immunity as a political subdivision in these cases.
Be Careful with “Hold Harmless” Agreements
Members often ask us whether they can have employees or volunteers sign “releases” or “hold harmless” agreements that protect the employer in the event of a workplace injury. Always have your counsel review this type of document before asking someone to sign it.
Employees of political subdivisions are conclusively considered to have accepted workers’ compensation coverage, and they can’t reject their coverage. If they are in the course and scope of employment and furthering the business of their employer, no signed release can negate the statute. And remember, being in course and scope is not as simple as being on or off the official clock.
Don’t Miss Out on Compliance Training
When are employers required to create a record of an on-the-job injury or illness? How do you juggle workers’ compensation and assault leave? Where should you send injured employees for treatment?
Our virtual compliance training answers those questions and more. Fund members with Workers’ Compensation coverage can access the four-video series any time by logging our website.
Risk Solutions Staff
The TASB risk solutions team includes risk solutions consultants and communications professionals who deliver training, consultations, articles, and resources that help Fund members control losses and their associated costs.