There are a number of situations at work that may lead to psychiatric injuries
Increasingly, Americans recognize that illnesses are not limited to physical injuries and sicknesses. There is growing awareness of the importance of taking care of one’s mental health — and the need for effective treatment if a person suffers from a mental health issue.
Yet according to a California workers’ compensation attorney, it can be difficult to prove that a mental health issue is related to work. These psychiatric injuries are compensable under California workers’ compensation law. However, there is a high threshold to prove that a psychiatric illness — such as a mental disorder, physical illness related to stress, or another mental health issue — is related to a workplace illness or injury.
A recent article released by the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) provides guidance as to potential work-related causes of psychiatric injuries. While the article does not explicitly state that these employer actions will lead to workers’ compensation liability, it offers insight into the types of actions — or inaction — that an employer might take that could lead to a psychiatric injury. These workplace stressors may include:
- Failing to provide critical incident debriefings and training as soon as possible after a traumatic, violent, or frightening event;
- Failing to provide post-trauma support groups and individual counseling after a traumatic, violent, or frightening event;
- Failing to provide effective communication with employees through newsletters, staff meetings, and individual communication from supervisors to workers in the event of workplace changes;
- Failing to establish internal complaint procedures and informal dispute resolution systems to give employees outlets for having their concerns heard and addressed and for them to give input about ways to make the work environment more productive and less stressful;
- Failing to improve the management of job-related injury cases so that physical injuries do not lead to psychiatric stress injuries as well;
- Failing to effectively deal with employees with pre-existing mental problems or stress issues that may be subject to complications at the workplace;
- Failing to provide support for injured workers doing modified duty adjustments and rehabilitation;
- Failing to implement confidential employee assistance programs that acknowledge the interrelationship of work and family problems and failing to encourage stressed employees to seek help;
- Having managers and supervisors that are not/or improperly trained on the basics of effective supervision;
- Not providing workers the resources and authority to meet assigned responsibilities;
- Setting unrealistic goals for workers;
- Not allowing individuals an opportunity to have input on actions that affect their jobs;
- Failing to monitor and document workers’ performance;
- Failing to reinforce and reward good job performance;
- Failing to work on successful resolution efforts of employee conflicts;
- Failing to maintain confidentiality in the workplace;
- Failing to make effective referrals to employee assistance programs;
- Failing to comply with legal restrictions against any form of sexual harassment or discrimination;
- Failing to advise workers where to go to for help such as Employee Assistance Programs, Ombudsperson, Family Counselors, Union Representatives, Support Groups, and other confidential sources.
These are just some of the potential ways that employees may be subject to stress at work — which can result in psychiatric injury. If you do suffer such an injury due to on-the-job stress, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim. A skilled California workers’ compensation attorney can work with you to help you determine if filing a claim is possible based on the facts of your case.
At PLBSH, we represent clients who have suffered a range of injuries and illnesses as they navigate the workers’ compensation system. Contact us today at (800) 435-7542 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation with a seasoned California workers’ compensation attorney.