Sworn PPM: Safety and Security

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Policy and Procedure # 21: Safety

The City of Colorado Springs recognizes that the safety and health of its employees and the public are paramount concerns in the delivery of its services. Safety shall receive first consideration in the design and performance of any job. The safety and health of employees and the public shall not be compromised to provide expedient service.

Deputy Chief/Chief's Responsibility

Each Chief will use best efforts to ensure that an effective safety and health program is developed, implemented, and maintained. The safety and health program of the Department, with its applicable rules and procedures, shall meet or exceed established federal, state, and city laws, as well as, accepted industry practices.

The Chief shall use best efforts to implement an ongoing program to identify and assess occupational safety and health hazards. Employees shall be provided ongoing training and education relating to preventive measures that minimize or eliminate work place hazards. Employees will be provided with appropriate personal protective equipment and shall be trained in its proper use.

For department/division, supervisor, professional safety staff, employee, and Safety Services section responsibilities, see the Safety Program Manual on the Risk Management intranet home page.

Fitness for Duty Approval Process

A Fire Department employee will be required to submit to a medical/psychological examination when the Chief/Deputy Chief and the City Risk Manager determine that the employee's ability to perform may be impaired. A Police Department Employee will be required to submit to a medical/ psychological examination when the Chief/Deputy Chief determine that the employee's ability to perform may be impaired. Such examinations shall be conducted by a City appointed practitioner and shall be at City expense.

Employee Responsibility

Each employee has a role to play in assuring a safe and healthy workplace. The employee's responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Be safety conscious at all times.
  • Follow established safety and health rules, policies, and procedures in performing work assignments.
  • Maintain a valid, appropriate Colorado Driver's license, if required for the operation of City vehicles and equipment.
  • Request additional information or clarification on assignments that are unclear and for which there may be a hazard.
  • Operate all City equipment, tools, machinery, and vehicles in accordance with manufacturer guidelines, safety practices, and operator training instructions.
  • Correctly wear and use all appropriate protective equipment.
  • Use lap and shoulder belts, where provided, at all times while operating or riding as a passenger in a City vehicle or private vehicle on City business.
  • Immediately report to the immediate supervisor and co-workers any unsafe working condition, equipment malfunction, or other situations that could endanger employees or the public.
  • Report personal injuries to the supervisor and Risk Management Office no later than 48 hours after injury.

Accident/Injury Reporting

Employees shall immediately notify their immediate supervisor, the Risk Management Office and, if appropriate, law enforcement authorities of any accident causing injury to an employee that requires professional medical attention, damage to a City vehicle or property, or damage and/or injury to private property or citizen.

Notification of Family Members

The Department shall be responsible for implementing procedures for the notification of family members. Employees are responsible for providing and updating the name of the individual to be contacted in the event of an emergency. This information should be provided to the employee's department and to Human Resources.

Policy and Procedure # 19: Workers' Compensation

In accordance with the State of Colorado Workers' Compensation Act, employees may apply for workers' compensation benefits for on-the-job injuries. The degree of liability and the amount of the benefit are determined by the State.

The City pays the entire cost of the Workers' Compensation insurance.

Administration of Claims

The Workers' Compensation section of the Risk Management Unit is responsible for the intake, review, and administration of employee workers' compensation claims. Employees who are injured on-the-job must report their claims to the Workers' Compensation section in accordance with their department's accident reporting procedures.

Injury Leave

An employee who is temporarily disabled for more than three regular working days as a result of an injury, which is fully compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act, shall be granted injury leave not to exceed 1220 hours per injury. To be eligible for injury leave, the employee must have physician certification, in writing, that the time off is related to the injury. The Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act provides payment of temporary disability benefits equal to 66⅔ of an employee’s average weekly wage, not to exceed a maximum of 91% of the State average weekly wage.  The City, however, will provide 100% wage replacement for compensable injuries or illnesses.  Injury leave wage replacement will be paid based upon the wage rate at the time of disability.  Injury leave benefits are paid in place of, and are credited against, temporary disability benefits due under the Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act.  There is no double recovery from injury leave and the Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act.   Injury leave will be considered as part of and administered in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act except that employees are not permitted or required to use accrued leave in conjunction with injury leave while on FMLA status. Injury leave shall continue until the first occurrence of any one of the following:

  • The authorized treating physician releases the employee to return to modified duty or full duty.
  • The employee reaches maximum medical improvement.
  • On the date a ruling of permanent disability is made.

In the event the employee exhausts injury leave and is still unable to return to work, the employee becomes eligible for compensation in accordance with the Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act, C.R.S. Section 8-42-105, which governs state-mandated compensation. When injury leave is exhausted, the employee will be required to supplement state mandated compensation with accrued leave up to 12 hours per week.

Benefit Period Computation

In computing the 1220-hour maximum benefit period, the following hours shall be counted:

  • Paid holidays occurring during the recovery period
  • Paid leaves
  • Unpaid leaves taken when the benefit is a reduced benefit

Modified Duty

An employee who is unable to perform the essential functions of their position while recovering from an injury, which is fully compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act, may be granted modified duty for a period of time not to exceed 2080 hours. The use of modified duty assignments is governed by the availability of suitable work within the restrictions contained in the physician’s release. The employee shall be paid their base wage while working modified duty.

The Chief or designee will make an attempt to find suitable work within the Department. However, assignments may be made to organizations outside of the employee’s regularly assigned work group.

Eligibility to work modified duty ceases when the employee has been released to return to full duty, is approved for a service/disability retirement, is placed at maximum medical improvement by a designated physician, or has been reassigned as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Penalties

If the injury is not fully compensable under the provisions of the State of Colorado Worker's Compensation Act provisions, the City benefit shall be reduced by the same percentage as the State assessed penalty. In such instances, the employee may elect to utilize accrued sick leave and vacation to offset the assessed penalties.

Restricted Activities

An employee on injury leave or modified duty assignment shall not perform any activities, including other employment, self-employment, sports, hobbies, etc., which may impede recovery from the injury. The authorized treating physician will make the appropriate determinations. An employee on injury leave or modified duty assignment shall not work overtime, be placed on-call or in a stand-by mode.

An employee on injury leave or limited duty assignment shall not be placed on-call or in a stand-by mode.  An employee may work overtime within his/her physical restrictions based on operational need. 

Inability To Perform Duties

Should the employee be unable to return to the full range of regularly assigned duties following a workers compensation injury leave and/or a modified-duty assignment, the employee may:

  • Utilize any remaining FMLA leave if eligible;
  • Utilize accrued compensatory time and sick leave if he/she is involved in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) process or pursuing medical retirement;
  • Utilize accrued vacation leave subject to supervisor approval;
  • Request sick leave without pay upon exhausting other paid leaves subject to approval by the chief or designee;
  • Request an accommodation under the ADA; and/or
  • Apply for disability retirement if eligible.

The City reserves the right to initiate an involuntary separation from employment in accordance with City Policies and Procedures for an employee who has not reached Maximum Medical Improvement and prior to the exhaustion of available sick leave if the employee:

  • Has exhausted all FMLA leave and,
  • Waives consideration under the ADA, is found to be not qualified under the ADA, or cannot be reasonably accommodated through reassignment; and
  • Is unable to perform the essential functions of their job with or without reasonable accommodation; and
  • Is not otherwise entitled to any other legal protections.

Employees may request an ADA accommodation at any time prior to separation of employment, regardless of whether the employee has previously signed an ADA waiver.

Policy and Procedure # 20: Light Duty Assignment (Non-work Related Injury/Illness)

A regular employee or an employee in their initial evaluation period who is unable to perform the full range of regularly assigned duties as a result of an off-the-job injury or temporary disability may be placed on light-duty assignment for a period not to exceed 180 days, provided that work is available and they receive a physician's approval. Light duty assignments beyond 180 days must be approved by the Chief.

The immediate supervisor is responsible for ensuring that such light duty assignments are consistent with the employee's medical restrictions or limitations. Risk Management should be consulted in the event there are questions or concerns related to such restrictions or limitations.

Alternatives to Light Duty

Should a light duty assignment not be a viable alternative or if an employee is unable to perform the essential functions of their assigned position, the employee may:

  • Utilize accrued sick leave or vacation
  • Request a sick leave advance, if the medical prognosis is supportive of recovery
  • Apply for Family Medical Leave (FMLA)
  • Seek employment in another City position for which they are physically fit
  • Apply for FPPA disability retirement
  • Apply for ADA accommodations
  • Separate from employment

If the employee accepts reassignment, the salary of the employee must fall within the salary range of the new classification.