What to do if you get injured at work

Unfortunately with our job being so physically demanding, we are prone to getting injured on the job. As a letter carrier, you should know what your rights are when you are injured. All employees of the United States Postal Service are covered by the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA). This means that CCA’s and PTF’s are also covered. FECA is administered by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Program (OWCP), United States Department of Labor (DOL).

FECA provides that employees who suffer job-related disabilities due to a traumatic injury (CA-1) are entitled to the following:
a. Continuation of pay (COP) for the period of the disability, up to a maximum of 45 calendar days, for a traumatic job-related injury.
     b. Compensation for wages lost as a result of job-related injury or disease or illness.
     c. Medical care for disability due to:
               (1) Personal injuries sustained while in the performance of duty.
 
You will need to fill out a CA-1 to establish an initial injury claim. 
 
A CA-1 form is used to establish a traumatic injury. A traumatic injury is defined as: a wound or other condition of the body caused by external force, including stress or strain. The injury must be identifiable as to time and place of occurrence and member or function of the body affected, and caused by a specific event or series of events within a single day or work shift. An example of a CA-1 injury would be, ‘On October 1st at 1 p.m., Sue Smith was delivering at 777 John St. and was attacked by a dog, which caused her to injure her back.’ The injury occurred on a single work shift and she can identify the place and time the injury occurred. The following is a recommended checklist for workers who are injured due to a traumatic injury:
 
• Report the injury to your Supervisor immediately.

• Fill out a CA-1 Form. You should file it electronically on the ECOMP website https://www.ecomp.dol.gov.  You will need to register an account if you do not already have one.  You should be able to allowed to access a workplace computer to do this.   You can also do this on a personal computer or a smartphone. If you are unable to file electronically, you should request a paper copy of a CA-1.  You have the right to fill out your own CA-1. If you need immediate medical attention the CA-1 can be filed after you seek treatment.  
 
• Request a receipt for your CA-1. That receipt is your proof that you submitted your form.  If you file electronically you will not need to ask for a receipt.  

• Request a CA-16 to receive medical treatment from your own choice of physician. You have the right to choose a physician or hospital of your choice for treatment. Request that your supervisor authorize medical treatment by issuing you a form CA-16. You must provide your supervisor with the name and telephone number of your physician. The CA-16 authorizes your doctor to provide treatment. Management must promptly authorize medical treatment by issuing the employee a properly executed Form CA-16 within 4 hours of the claimed injury. If management gives verbal authorization for care, Form CA-16 should be issued within 48 hours.

• You have a right to seek medical treatment from your own doctor. You do not have to continue medical treatment from their contract doctor. EL 505 states: If the employee does not select a physician, refer the employee to the USPS contract medical provider for diagnosis and initial evaluation, advising the employee that he or she may select a physician of choice after initial evaluation by the contract medical provider in accordance with ELM 543.1. If the employee is to be examined by the USPS contract medical provider before seeking treatment from a private physician or hospital, ensure the following:
 
•The examination is performed promptly following the report of the injury.
• CA-16 is provided for the private physician of choice, within 4 hours of the injured employee’s reporting of injury.
•The USPS examination in no way interferes with or delays the employee’s right to seek a prompt examination and treatment from a physician of choice. While you must allow the contract doctor to evaluate you, the contract doctor is not allowed to treat you without your approval.  Injured workers usually receive better treatment when they see their own doctor for work-related injuries.  
 
• Always request COP if your disability causes you to lose time from work. FECA provides that an employee’s regular pay may continue for up to 45 calendar days of wage loss, due to disability and/or medical treatment, after a traumatic injury. The intent of this provision is to avoid interruption of the employee’s income while a case is being adjudicated. If management sends you home indicating they have no work available for you during your COP period, you can request to be paid COP.  The first 3 days of temporary disability you are not entitled to COP, you have the option of using annual leave, sick leave, or leave without pay during the waiting period.  However, if your disability exceeds 14 days or is followed by a permanent disability you may have your sick or annual reinstated or receive pay if you used LWOP..   
 
• Request a Form CA-17 (a duty status report). If your doctor releases you to work with medical restrictions, he/she should complete the right side of the CA-17. 

Understanding your rights and responsibilities will ensure that you receive proper medical treatment and compensation under the law.  If your rights are being violated please inform your shop steward or a Branch officer.  If you need assistance in finding a physician who will treat you for your federal workers’ compensation claim, or you are having any other issues related to your work-related injury, please call me at (714)748-1100.