Protecting Your Rights in the Event of an On-the-Job Injury
Contact your NATCA OWCP Committee Representative for Help
What do you do if you are injured on the job? The first thing you need to know is workers compensation claims under the Federal Employees Compensation Act can be complicated. Resources are available to assist bargaining unit employees in this situation. The NATCA OWCP Committee is made up of controllers from every region who are trained in all aspects of the claims process and are ready to assist in the event a bargaining unit employee gets hurt or becomes ill from work-related causes. Whether the injury is from a fall at work, a stress reaction, or a critical air traffic event such as an airplane crash, NATCA’s OWCP Committee should be your first contact.
Use Simple Language and Get Help on the Wording of the Claim
Because workers compensation can be confusing, it is very important to get some help at the very beginning even before a CA-1 Notice of Traumatic Injury Claim is filed. Sometimes the terminology used to describe the injury can turn out to be a source of problems down the line when the Department of Labor reviews the claim. For example, when a controller experiences a stress related injury following an air traffic event, how we describe the event can often result in the claim being rejected by DoL. NATCA’s OWCP Committee can assist with completing the form to ensure that ATC terminology, such as “near miss,” is not used to describe the event. It is important to use simple, lay-person terms in describing the nature of the injury on the claim form. This will help to avoid disputes over whether a “near miss” occurred when the issue should be the controller’s stress reaction to an air traffic event.
Protect the Controller’s Rights by Filing a CA-1 Form Right Away
In addition, when an air traffic event happens, the controller may continue working and may not immediately realize that he or she is experiencing a traumatic stress reaction to the event. If the controller does not file a CA1 Notice of Traumatic Injury Claim until several days or weeks later, the agency may use the delay in filing to contest the claim. NATCA recommends submitting the CA-1 claim following the air traffic event to protect the employee in this scenario. In the event the employee does seek medical attention, this is a protective measure to put the agency on notice that the employee was exposed to a traumatic event.