By Anne-Marie L. Storey, Esq.
A decision just issued from the Workers’ Compensation Board Appellate Division is a good reminder of the need to train supervisors to recognize and respond appropriately to reports of work-related incidents. One of the issues in the case was the date on which the employee gave notice of her work-related injury. The Hearing Officer concluded that the employee reported the injury as required by the Act to her “floor supervisor” when she told him that she was “beginning to think that …these pallets being so high is causing my shoulder to be a problem”. Although the case does not indicate she told him anything further about treatment or specifically that she was making a claim for a work-related injury, this statement was sufficient to provide notice. This finding was affirmed by the Board’s Appellate Division.
Supervisors must be properly trained to recognize reports of alleged injury in addition to claims of harassment or other potentially unlawful workplace behavior. It is wise to provide this training also to those individuals acting in the capacity as “team leaders” or similar designations; even if they are not formally considered supervisors by the employer, if an employee perceives them in that role a court may find that a report to that individual can be sufficient to provide notice to the employer.
If you are not already providing training to supervisors, at all levels, to recognize and respond to reports of injury, harassment, or other prohibited behavior, it would be wise to do so.
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