Workers Compensation Do’s and Dont’s
When a NATCA bargaining unit employee suffers an injury at work, he or she may be entitled to receive workers compensation under Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA). FECA is the exclusive remedy for all federal employee workers compensation claims. Workers compensation is administered by the Department of Labor, Office of Workers Compensation Program (OWCP). NATCA’s OWCP Committee is available to help employees in every step of their claim should one be injured on duty.
The two most common types of injuries suffered at work are traumatic injuries and occupational diseases. A traumatic injury is a wound or other condition of the body caused by external force, including stress or strain that occurs during one work shift. For example, air traffic controllers or other NATCA bargaining unit employees in the multi-units have been injured at work due to falling out of faulty chairs, falling on poorly constructed stairs, or falling on ice in the FAA parking areas. Stress reactions from an air traffic event or crash are also considered traumatic injuries. For a traumatic injury claim, the employee is required to fill out a CA-1 and CA-16 form and is eligible for 45 days of Continuation of Pay (COP) compensation. Because of the complexities of the OWCP claims process, it is critical that injured employees notify their NATCA facility representative and obtain assistance with filing the claim. The facility representative must then contact the NATCA OWCP Committee representative for the region to ensure that the Agency follows the claims process properly.
For occupational illnesses, such as hearing loss or sleep apnea caused by working over a period longer than one work day or shift, NATCA bargaining unit employees must file a claim for “occupational disease” with the OWCP using the CA-2 and CA-35 form. The timeframe for filing the claim begins when the employee reasonably knew or should have known of the occupational illness. Once again it is critical to request assistance from the NATCA facility representative and the OWCP Committee, who are knowledgeable about the OWCP claims process and can help the employee navigate the process.
Once a claim is submitted, an employee will receive a determination from OWCP regarding their claim. During the period in which the claim is pending, the employee may be contacted by the FAA OWCP liaison to request information about the claim. NATCA strongly advises employees NOT to speak to these FAA claims personnel, as they are employed by the FAA to contest workers compensation claims and may not have injured employees’ best interests at heart. Any information requested by the Agency should be provided strictly in writing on the appropriate DOL form with the assistance of the facility representative and should never be provided verbally in a telephone call. Injured employees who utilize NATCA resources in filing and pursuing their OWCP claims will be better represented and will achieve better results with the claim.