injuries could be on the rise. The weekend and once a week athletes inspired by
Olympic publicity can be early casualties.
A friend of mine arrived at her company’s picnic last Friday just in
time to say good luck to the first person leaving early to get an x-ray. It was just about lunch time. These bursts of athletic exuberance can cause serious
injuries that result in long periods away from the job. The Regional VP I worked for was not happy
when a Senior Executive tore his Achilles tendon playing walleyball on a
company sponsored team. Walleyball is a
lot like volleyball but it’s played inside a racket ball court. This injury
resulted in surgery, a lengthy recovery period and our last walleyball
season. The fallout from the injury was
exacerbated when it was determined to be work related and covered by Worker’s
Compensation. The Exec was wearing a
company t-shirt on a company sponsored team.
In that state this is enough for a company to be seen as benefiting from
the activity, making it covered under Worker’s Comp. At the same employer the basketball team
injuries tended to be more costly than anything that occurred during the
regular work day. We were more cautious about the teams and events we
sponsored at a start-up I worked for; no walleyball or basketball. After two seasons we stopped sponsoring a
soccer team. Ending the soccer team sponsorship was out of character with the
culture we worked hard to create but the toll on both Worker’s Comp costs and
the absences from one department made the decision inevitable.
circumstances surrounding the event or activity. If employees gets hurt while volunteering at
a company sponsored golf tournament, they are “working” and any injuries
(slip and fall, lifting a box of beverages) would likely be compensable. If
employees are encouraged, strongly, to attend the company picnic on what is
usually a work day an injury will also probably be covered. Don’t
cancel the company picnic or toss out the team shirts. Keep your eyes open and make sure that events
are safe. Don’t encourage a normally sedentary employee to be the first person
to test an obstacle course!