Workers' compensation process gains efficiencies

You're a lab employee and accidentally bust a beaker, cutting your finger. The first action you take, obviously, is getting a medical professional to evaluate your injury. But soon after, you or your supervisor must document the incident by completing a first report of injury (FROI) with the university.

What is first report of injury?

The FROI is an important part of the workers' compensation process. Workers' compensation provides certain benefits to ISU employees who sustain work-related injuries or illnesses while on the job at the university. A FROI is required within 24 hours after an injury or accident occurs at work, even if no medical treatment is necessary. University human resources (UHR) handles workers' compensation claims for employees, including student employees. Volunteers, visitors, students and others who sustain non-work-related injuries or illnesses while on university property must report these incidents to the office of risk management.

New process

UHR has partnered with the office of risk management, environmental health and safety, and information technology services to revamp the FROI process. The new system, called the ISU Incident Portal, will launch by Oct. 31. A portion of the new system -- non-work-related incident reporting for students and visitors -- already is up and running on the office of risk management website.

Currently, an electronic FROI, available in AccessPlus, travels to multiple individuals before UHR manually enters the injury information into a database owned by the university's third-party workers' compensation administrator. The process, sometimes long and cumbersome, is due for some improvements.

"The old system has not been the most reliable or efficient, which has held up the process," said Andrea Little, manager of employee/labor relations and workers' compensation. "The ISU Incident Portal will allow for quicker reporting and tracking of work-related injuries and illnesses, which should enable us to assist employees and departments more effectively."

With the new procedures, UHR immediately will receive the FROI once an employee or supervisor submits it through the new portal. This action will trigger subsequent emails to the injured or ill employee, the employee's supervisor and to his or her departmental contact. (Departmental contacts are responsible for notifying everyone who needs to know about the employee's work-related injury or illness.)

UHR staff will review the FROI and determine the next steps.

"These changes allow a process that, at times, took days in the old system to now happen within a day using the ISU Incident Portal," said Ruth Carlton-Appleton, employee/labor relations consultant.

Additional advantages of the ISU Incident Portal include more automation, more accurate recordkeeping and better data reports.

Accessing the new system

Until the new ISU Incident Portal is fully implemented, employees and supervisors should continue reporting work-related incidents through AccessPlus. After the new system's launch, look for the ISU Incident Portal on UHR's website or use the alpha index on Iowa State's homepage (W > Workers' Compensation > Worker's Compensation Forms > First Report of Injury).

Contact Carlton-Appleton, 294-3753, or human resource specialist Rachael Kroeze, 294-8917, with questions about reporting work-related injuries or illness and the new ISU Incident Portal.