American Association of State Compensation insurance Fund
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CopperPoint Mutual Insurance Company
Phone: (602) 631-2000
Address: 3030 North Third Street
Phoenix, AZ   85012
Website: www.copperpoint.com

State Compensation Insurance Fund
Phone: 888-STATEFUNDCA
Address: 333 Bush Street
Suite 800
San Francisco, CA   94104
Website: www.statefundca.com

Pinnacol Assurance
Phone: (303) 361-4000
Address: 7501 East Lowry Boulevard
Suite 800
Denver, CO   80230-7006
Website: www.pinnacol.com

Hawaii Employers' Mutual Insurance Co. Inc.
Phone: (808) 524-3642
Address: 1100 Alakea Street
Suite 1400
Honolulu, HI   96813
Website: www.hemic.com

Idaho State Insurance Fund
Phone: (208) 332-2100
Address: 1215 West State Street
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, ID   83720-0044
Website: www.idahosif.org

Kentucky Employers Mutual Insurance
Phone: (859) 425-7800
Address: 250 West Main Street Suite 900
P.O. Box 83720
Lexington, KY   40507-1724
Website: www.kemi.com

Louisiana Workers' Compensation Corporation
Phone: (225) 924-7788
Address: 2237 South Acadian Thruway
P.O. Box 83720
Baton Rouge, LA   70808
Website: www.lwcc.com

Maine Employers Mutual Insurance Company (MEMIC)
Phone: (207) 791-3300
Address: 261 Commercial Street
P.O. Box 11409
Portland, ME   04104
Website: www.memic.com

Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company
Phone: (410) 494-2000
Address: 8722 Loch Raven Boulevard
P.O. Box 11409
Towson, MD   21286-2235
Website: www.ceiwc.com

SFM Mutual Insurance Company
Phone: (952) 838-4200
Address: 3500 American Boulevard West Suite 700
P.O. Box 11409
Bloomington, MN   55431-4434
Website: www.sfmic.com

Missouri Employers Mutual Insurance
Phone: (800) 442-0590
Address: 101 N Keene St
P.O. Box 11409
Columbia, MO   65201
Website: www.mem-ins.com

Montana State Fund
Phone: (406) 495-5015
Address: 855 Front Street
P.O. Box 4759
Helena, MT   59604-4759
Website: www.montanastatefund.com

New Mexico Mutual Group
Phone: (505) 345-7260
Address: 3900 Singer Boulevard NE
P.O. Box 4759
Albuquerque, NM   87109
Website: www.newmexicomutual.com

New York State Insurance Fund
Phone: (212) 312-7001
Address: 199 Church Street
P.O. Box 4759
New York, NY   10007
Website: www.nysif.com

Workforce Safety and Insurance
Phone: (701) 328-3800
Address: 1600 East Century Avenue Suite 1
P.O. Box 4759
Bismarck, ND   58506-5585
Website: www.WorkforceSafety.com

Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation
Phone: (800) 644-6292
Address: 30 West Spring Street
P.O. Box 4759
Columbus, OH   43215-2256
Website: www.bwc.ohio.gov

CompSource Mutual Insurance Company
Phone: (405) 232-7663
Address: 1901 North Walnut Ave.
P.O. Box 53505
Oklahoma City, OK   73152-3505
Website: www.compsourcemutual.com

State Accident Insurance Fund (SAIF)
Phone: (503) 373-8000
Address: 400 High Street SE
P.O. Box 53505
Salem, OR   97312-1000
Website: www.saif.com

Pennsylvania State Workers Insurance Fund
Phone: (570) 963-4635
Address: 100 Lackawanna Avenue
P.O. Box 5100
Scranton, PA   18505-5100
Website: www.dli.state.pa.us/swif

Beacon Mutual Insurance Company
Phone: (401) 825-2667
Address: One Beacon Centre
P.O. Box 5100
Warwick, RI   02886-1378
Website: www.beaconmutual.com

South Carolina State Accident Fund
Phone: (803) 896-5800
Address: P.O. Box 102100
P.O. Box 5100
Columbia, SC   29221-5000
Website: www.saf.sc.gov

Texas Mutual Insurance Company
Phone: (800) 859-5995
Address: 6210 East Highway 290
P.O. Box 5100
Austin, TX   78723-1098
Website: www.texasmutual.com

Workers Compensation Fund
Phone: (800) 446-2667
Address: 100 West Towne Ridge Parkway
P.O. Box 2227
Sandy, UT   84070
Website: www.wcfgroup.com

Washington Department of Labor and Industries
Phone: (360) 902-5800
Address: P.O. Box 44001
P.O. Box 2227
Olympia, WA   98504-4001
Website: www.lni.wa.gov

Wyoming Division of Workers Safety & Compensation
Phone: (307) 777-7159
Address: Cheyenne Business Center
1510 East Pershing Boulevard
Cheyenne, WY   82002
Website: wydoe.state.wy.us

Workers Compensation Board - Alberta
Phone: (780) 498-3999
Address: 9925-107 Street
P.O. Box 2415
Edmonton, AB   T5J 2S5
Website: www.wcb.ab.ca

Workers Compensation Board of British Columbia (WORKSAFEBC)
Phone: (604) 273-2266
Address: P.O. Box 5350 Station Terminal
P.O. Box 2415
Vancouver, BC   V6B 5L5
Website: www.worksafebc.com

Manitoba Workers Compensation Board
Phone: (204) 954-4321
Address: 333 Broadway
P.O. Box 2415
Winnipeg, MB   R3C 4W3
Website: www.wcb.mb.ca

WorkSafeNB
Phone: (506) 632-2200
Address: 1 Portland Street
P.O. Box 160
Saint John, NB   E2L 3X9
Website: www.worksafenb.ca

Workers Compensation Board of Nova Scotia
Phone: (902) 491-8999
Address: 5668 South Street
P.O. Box 1150
Halifax, NS   B3J 2Y2
Website: www.wcb.ns.ca

Prince Edward Island Workers Compensation Board
Phone: (902) 368-5680
Address: 14 Weymouth Street
P.O. Box 1150
Charlottetown, PE   C1A 7L7
Website: www.wcb.pe.ca

Saskatchewan Workers Compensation Board
Phone: (306) 787-4370
Address: 200 - 1881 Scarth Street
P.O. Box 1150
Regina, SK   S4P 4L1
Website: www.wcbsask.com

Puerto Rico State Insurance Fund Corporation
Phone: (787) 793-5959
Address: G.P.O. Box 365028
P.O. Box 1150
San Juan, PR   00936-5028
Website: www.cfse.gov.pr
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Watch Your Step(s)!--Increased Workers' Compensation Exposure and Wellness Programs

By Darren Lee, Trial Attorney, SAIF Corporation

Being in the business of health and safety, most of us look at an employer’s wellness program as a positive attribute. Human resource departments across the country have worked diligently to create effective, engaging systems to encourage better health and wellness for employees. The benefits are well accepted: a healthier, happier employee not only increases productivity, but also applies downward pressure to the ever-escalating health care costs. This in turn leads to a more desirable work environment and an opportunity for an employer to provide tangible financial benefits for employees (great for recruiting and retention). You wear this pedometer and complete online health assessments, and we will grant you rewards both small ($10 gift certificate!) and large (fully subsidized health insurance!). Win-win, as the saying goes.

But a look at recent Oregon workers’ compensation cases shows that employers and insurers must also consider the exposure that wellness programs might bring. Oregon has seen a resurgence of the “personal comfort” doctrine, originally designed to allow compensation for injuries during a coffee or restroom break. In two cases, the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Board (the Board) found that the “personal comfort” doctrine kept an employee within the course of their employment during wellness-related activity.

In one case, Laura Brown, 68 Van Natta 774 (2016), the evidence established that the employee liked to take walks at lunch for her personal enjoyment. Her employer then started a voluntary wellness “rewards” program that encouraged employees to form teams and compete by walking and recording steps taken. The employee changed her daily walking route and instead used one suggested by the employer with the promise of extra rewards under the program. During one such walk on an unpaid lunch break and off the employer’s premises, she injured her knee and sought workers’ compensation benefits. The insurer denied the claim, arguing that the injury occurred during an activity primarily for her personal pleasure, and it occurred outside the course and scope of her employment.

The Board determined that the employee had established a sufficient nexus between her employment and the injury to allow compensation. After acknowledging that the employee might derive some personal pleasure from walking, the Board focused on the employer’s role in actively promoting the program and the employer’s benefit from having healthier, happier employees. The Board concluded that the walking activity fell within the “personal comfort” doctrine, meaning that the usual exclusions under the traditional “going and coming” exception to the course and scope analysis did not apply. The Board then noted that the walking route encouraged by the employer put the employee at an increased risk of injury due to congestion and lack of maintenance. Based on that finding, the Board determined that the injury was both in the course of and arose out of employment. Compensation allowed.

In the second case, Lori C. Watt, 70 Van Natta 755 (2018), the employee also took an unpaid break from work to go for a walk. She first put on the ubiquitous Fitbit because her employer had a voluntary wellness program that provided financial incentives for participation. During this walk, and while on a public sidewalk, the employee tripped on a raised crack and sustained a wrist injury. She sought workers’ compensation benefits. As with the first case, the Board found that the employer’s active promotion of the wellness program placed the employee squarely in the “personal comfort” category, meaning that she remained in the course of her employment at the time of the injury. However, the Board reached a different conclusion under the “arise out of” prong of the course and scope analysis. Noting that this injury occurred well away from the employer’s premises, on a public sidewalk and not on a route chosen or promoted by the employer, the Board found an insufficient work-environment risk to support compensability. Compensation was denied, but the case remains on appeal.

As employers explore innovative ways to keep their employees healthy and engaged, the risk of liability also grows. From the humble beginnings of the coffee or bathroom break that inspired the “personal comfort” doctrine, employers now actively encourage their employees to participate in increasingly diverse wellness activities that relate only tangentially to their job duties. Whether injury during those activities falls within the course and scope of employment depends on an array of state-specific factors, but recent Oregon cases demonstrate that an employer’s promotion of wellness activities can provide an important nexus to increase workers’ compensation exposure.

I will leave you with a question to ponder: if an employee sustains an injury during an employer-paid, 15-minute chair massage on the employer’s premises, provided as a wholly voluntary wellness benefit to all employees, is it compensable? The “common sense” answer may well differ from what your jurisdiction’s laws provide, but scenarios like this highlight an employer’s need to contemplate the delicate balance between an active promotion of wellness initiatives and risk management.

 

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