Most employers are aware of the Workers’ Compensation Panel and the requirement to have it completed and posted in each office. (A Workers’ Compensation Panel lists the authorized treating physicians selected by the employer for the purposes of treating injured workers.)
Unfortunately, business owners often overlook the need to maintain it. In doing so, they put their business at risk. A valid Panel of Physicians must generally meet the following conditions at all times. To provide a little extra protection, we also offer a few “best practices” suggestions, as noted below. (If you do not have a Workers’ Compensation Panel form, click here to download an official form in English.)
- The Panel must be posted in a location easily accessible to all personnel.
- The Panel must list the company’s Workers’ Compensation insurance firm of record.
- The form must list at least six doctors. More than six is fine (and a good practice to ensure coverage).
- Either company principals or their Workers’ Comp insurance provider can pick the doctors, or the selection can be made by consensus.
- No matter who picks the physicians, they need to meet these criteria:
- One of the doctors must be a minority.
- One must be an orthopedic surgeon with no constraints.
- The Panel cannot contain more than two industrial clinics.
- If an employee is injured, they have the right to select the physician of their choice with no direction from or restrictions by the employer. After being injured, employees are also eligible to change their choice of doctor once.
- An appropriate manager, such as an HR or Safety manager, should check the panels regularly to ensure all doctors are still practicing and treating Workers’ Comp injuries. Marathon recommends that business leaders check their panels when the time changes. “Springing forward” and “falling back” then becomes a consistent way of remembering to perform this important task.
- Employees have the right to photograph the Panel. If someone is injured, he or she (or their manager, if the worker is incapacitated) should take a picture of the Panel’s status at that time and ensure the employee has access to the image.
- For their own protection, best practice (although not a requirement) is for organizations to maintain a photographic archive of the Panel.
- Take a picture of the posted Workers’ Comp Panel every time a manager checks it. Date the image and retain it.
- If the Panel changes between “check-ups,” take another picture and date it, as well.
- Maintain all photos in a safe location with other important business documents, preferably in a secure online archive so the information is accessible after hours or in the event of a disaster.
If, after reviewing these suggestions, you want more information on choosing doctors, or you need other forms including the Workers Compensation Panel in Spanish, the Georgia Board of Workers’ Compensation website offers a variety of resources.
In addition to the very real concern that an out-of-date Workers’ Compensation Panel could delay worker treatment, there are other dangers regarding this important document. Although it’s nice to trust your employees, history shows that some workers are “predatory” — they take advantage of firms with non-compliant Workers’ Compensation Panels. Don’t let your firm be one of them.