#1  
Unread 10-05-2001, 05:22 AM
HRSTUD
 
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Default Seizure in the workplace

Last night an employee experienced a serious seizure. There is no known history of any medical condition on the employee by the company. The employee told the supervisor not to call an ambulance, but to call his roommate. My question is this; can I require the employee to get a full medical release and a list of medications if any before he comes back to work? Also, would this be considered a workers' comp issue due to the fact it happened at work?
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  #2  
Unread 10-05-2001, 05:43 AM
rexxie
 
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Default RE: Seizure in the workplace

Couple of questions: Does your company do pre-employment physicals? Do you
have a hospital/clinic you require employees to go to for WC? What about a
return-to-work program? If you do not have clinic you work with, as
management, you should have insisted the employee seek medical treatment immediately--it's kind of like over-serving the individual at the bar--if you didn't insist he see his private physician no later than today or send him to the hospital, you probably have some liability in terms of future seizures. In some sense, the employee does not get to decide what's best--you need to on behalf of the company. If you do not have a return-to-work program that encompasses both work-related and non-work related situations, you can still request a full clearance of the condition/cause etc. before the employee returns. However, depending on the nature of their position in the company, could their work cause them to have another seizure. I have found that employees are not necessarily forthright with their physicians if they want to stay at work--that's why you need to have them go to 'your' physician--someone who's technically on your side. Your job in HR is to protect the individual and the company. If this seizure wasn't caused by some hazard in the workplace, then it's not WC--however, you can't know this until he sees a physician. I would contact him & tell him you need him to see a physician before he can return.

Good luck

>Last night an employee experienced a serious seizure. There is no
>known history of any medical condition on the employee by the company.
>The employee told the supervisor not to call an ambulance, but to call
>his roommate. My question is this; can I require the employee to get a
>full medical release and a list of medications if any before he comes
>back to work? Also, would this be considered a workers' comp issue due
>to the fact it happened at work?



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  #3  
Unread 10-05-2001, 07:06 AM
Down-the-Middle
 
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Default RE: Seizure in the workplace

I think you can express concern for this employee's health on the same basis as anyone else who would suddenly become incapacited in the workplace. Regardless of your industry, it seems to me the safety of the employee and co-workers warrants you to be comfortable that things are ok.

Chances are you can obtain a suitable explanation from the affected employee to learn if there is a historical or recent health issue. Depending on the type of seizure and complexity of it, I would encourage the employee to seek medical care and provide you with a statement of ability to do the job. Your sincerity will go a long way to avoiding any kind of mandate.

Regarding the work-relatedness, it is up to the employee to allege this was work-related and then you'll investigate to determine if compensable under your state's w/comp program. I seriously doubt that this is compensable, (unless there was a severe physical trauma to the body b/4 the seizure), but you must gather the facts b/4 making any determination.
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  #4  
Unread 10-05-2001, 01:25 PM
dhnyct
 
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Default RE: Seizure in the workplace

Even if the actual seizure is not caused by the workplace, there could well be injuries sustained should the employee fall, etc. Do subsequent injuries then become a W/C claim?
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  #5  
Unread 10-08-2001, 07:56 AM
James Sokolowski
 
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Default RE: Seizure in the workplace

In the vast majority of cases, I'd think that seizures wouldn't be workers' comp. It could be workers' comp if something at work caused it (like a reaction to airborne chemicals) or aggravated it (having a seizure on a ladder or while driving on company business).

As for him returning to work, I would NOT get overly involved in the details of his medical condition. That could invade his privacy or violate the ADA even if he's not disabled. You don't need to know what medicine he's on. You might not even need to know the diagnosis. Focus on work-related issues:

-- Can he perform his job safely?
-- If he has another seizure, what should you do and what should you tell medical personnel if he's unable to talk? This info probably should be limited to a very few people (like HR and his supervisor).

Good luck.

James Sokolowski
Senior Editor
M. Lee Smith Publishers
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  #6  
Unread 04-19-2002, 04:13 AM
littleblue
 
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Default RE: Seizure in the workplace

As a the owner of a business, I would advise you to protect yourself by following two simple courses of action. First, as another reply stated, focus on work related issues only. Not only is it inappropriate to ask what type of medication or condition is the cause of the seizure, but it is not smart. ADA compliance can be a pain in the butt and most often the person with seizures does not want or need special treatment anyway. If the seizures do have a direct impact on their ability to perform their job, the ADA laws require that you accomadate this employee as an someone with a disability, epliepsy. Ask the employee personally what they would perfer to do if the situation recurs, strongly encourage them to seek emergency/ongoing medical attention and realize that you cannot "make" them get into the ambulance in most states if they are concious and flatly refuse treatment.

Second, reduce the risk of an on the job injury claim and make your employee safer by educating yourself generally on seizures a little bit. Seizure protocol is included in most basic first aid courses and like that for choking it is fairly simple. If a seizure occurs keep the employee's laying down on the ground and protect them from hitting any objects around them. Most seizures take less than 1-2 minutes to pass and the victim will begin to be responsive to questions again in about 5-15 minutes. They are scarier for the other people in the office than the person affected.

People with ongoing seizures are not a real liability in the workplaces. The few I have run across are very hard working, prefer to deal with their condition privately with their doctor and do not want any special ADA type accomadations. In my experience respect for employee privacy and basic understanding goes a long way in dealing with people with seizures in the workplace.
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