South Carolina Workers’ Comp for Daycare & Childcare Workers
Learn about your rights to compensation and how to file a claim
Childcare workers play an essential role in communities throughout South Carolina by keeping children safe while their loved ones work and manage other responsibilities. In the United States, approximately 459,460 people worked in childcare roles in 2022, with more than 7,000 of these individuals working in South Carolina.
While daycare classrooms are designed to be as safe as possible, childcare workers are still exposed to potentially hazardous situations that can lead to injuries. Fortunately, most South Carolina daycare and childcare workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they’re injured on the job.
This article will explain who qualifies, how to file a claim and how you can get maximum compensation after an injury.
What are common injuries for childcare workers?
Childcare workers are most likely to experience overexertion injuries related to their frequent need to bend, twist, stoop, reach and carry objects and children. These injuries can include muscle strain in the back, shoulder or neck, herniated disks, and torn ligaments or tendons.
Although many childcare workers undergo special training each year to prevent these types of work-related injuries, it’s still possible for them to occur during the course of someone performing their normal job duties.
In addition to overexertion injuries, childcare workers also frequently experience the following:
- Broken bones. Childcare workers may slip and fall while walking on wet floors or after tripping over a child’s toy that sits in their walking path leading to broken bones.
- Infectious diseases. Similar to other personal care workers, someone who works in a daycare might accidentally be exposed to infectious viruses and bacteria as they change diapers, apply first aid and perform other duties that bring them into close contact with children and families.
- Repetitive stress injuries. Because daycare workers frequently have to perform certain tasks that require repetitive motions (like tying shoes, buttoning coats, changing diapers and helping with art projects), they’re at an increased risk of experiencing repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Do childcare workers qualify for workers’ compensation benefits?
Childcare workers are typically eligible for employee benefits that cover their injuries in South Carolina. Typically, employers must have workers’ compensation insurance coverage if they have 4 or more employees, even if some of them only work part-time.
There are, however, a few exceptions that could apply to childcare workers.
For example, an employer might not be required to carry workers’ compensation if they only employ casual employees that do not work regular hours. You might also not be covered under the program if you work for a private family that wouldn’t be required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
If you’re unsure if you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits after an injury, reach out to a Columbia workers’ compensation attorney for a free consultation to learn about your rights.
What types of benefits are childcare workers entitled to after an injury?
Being hurt on the job can temporarily keep you from being able to work your normal hours. In some cases, your injuries may even result in a permanent disability. You may also face mounting medical bills and other expenses that you wouldn’t have if you’d never been injured.
The workers’ compensation program is designed to provide you with these potential benefits to help you to recover from your injuries:
- Medical expenses. All necessary medical care, including doctor visits, physical therapy, medications, surgery and more, is covered under workers’ compensation.
- Income replacement for lost wages. Workers are entitled to two-thirds of their average weekly wages if they can’t work while they recover from their injury. The amount of time you can receive these benefits varies based on your disability.
- Death benefits. These benefits are paid to surviving dependents and include funeral costs and lost income.
How do I prove my injury is related to my job in childcare?
One of the first things you should do after getting hurt on the job is file an accident report with your employer. Doing so helps you to begin creating a paper trail that demonstrates your employer’s knowledge of the incident, which also helps to establish a timeline for the next stages in the process of filing your claim. You can also use witness statements, video footage and medical records to substantiate the validity of your claim.
What steps should I take to file a workers’ comp claim in South Carolina?
The steps you take immediately following a workplace injury have a major impact on your ability to collect workers’ compensation benefits. Here’s a general outline of the things you need to do right away after an on-the-job injury in South Carolina:
- Seek medical attention. This will prevent your injury from getting worse and also provide much-needed medical documentation linking your injury to your job.
- Notify your employer. You must notify your employer within 90 days after a work injury (preferably in writing) or you likely won’t be eligible to collect benefits.
- Verify that your employer files a claim. In South Carolina, your employer is required to file a workers’ comp claim on your behalf after you notify them of your injury. If they refuse to do so, you can file your own claim by submitting Form 50 to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.
- Reach out to a worker’s compensation attorney. If your employer refuses to file a claim or your claim is denied by the workers’ compensation carrier, contact a workers’ compensation attorney to learn about your rights.
What happens if my claim is denied?
If your claim is initially denied, don’t get discouraged because you still have options. The first step is to request a hearing in front of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. After your request is processed, your case will be assigned to a commissioner who will conduct a hearing, typically within 3-5 months.
If you’re unhappy with the ruling issued during the hearing, you have the option to challenge the decision by filing an appeal with the circuit court and, if required, the South Carolina Supreme Court.
How can childcare workers reduce the risk of injuries from workplace accidents?
Childcare workers and employers can take several measures to reduce the risk of injuries and increase occupational health and safety:
- Practice safe lifting and carrying techniques. Proper lifting and carrying techniques are essential to avoid strain on the back and muscles. Workers should bend at their knees, use their leg muscles, and keep their backs straight when lifting children or objects.
- Use assistive equipment. Whenever possible, utilize equipment like strollers, cribs, high chairs or changing tables to minimize the physical strain of lifting and carrying. Use appropriate-sized equipment to ensure a comfortable and safe environment for both children and workers.
- Maintain a clean and organized environment. While it may be easier said than done, try to keep the childcare area tidy and free of hazards, such as toys or objects that can cause trips and falls. Regularly inspecting the play areas and ensuring they’re free of potential dangers like loose rugs, sharp edges or slippery surfaces can prevent injuries to staff and children.
- Provide adequate staffing levels. Maintain appropriate staff-to-child ratios to ensure that workers are not overwhelmed with tasks and have sufficient time and resources to provide proper supervision and care. Overworking and exhaustion can increase the risk of accidents.
- Practice proper ergonomics. Promote good ergonomics in the workplace by using ergonomic furniture and equipment. Encourage workers to maintain proper posture, use adjustable chairs and desks, and take short breaks to stretch and rest their bodies.
- Provide regular maintenance and inspections. Conduct routine inspections of equipment, play areas and facilities to identify and address any potential hazards or maintenance needs promptly.
By implementing these measures and fostering a safety-conscious culture, childcare workers and employers can significantly reduce the risk of injuries from workplace accidents and create a safer environment for both themselves and the children they care for.
Contact a Columbia work injury attorney
At Smith, Born, Leventis, Taylor & Vega, we believe that every employee is entitled to a safe work environment. When accidents do occur, you shouldn’t have to worry about how you’re going to afford your medical care or pay your bills. That’s why our Columbia workers’ compensation attorneys offer free, no-obligation consultations to give you the help and information you need to get back on the road to recovery.
Contact us today to see how we can help you get maximum compensation for your claim.