Editor’s note: This is the third entry in a four-part series about Crawford & Company’s claims adjusting work in Alaska submitted by Rose Etheridge, senior claims examiner for Broadspire® in Anchorage, Alaska.
As with any state and service center, claims vary depending on season. Summer is upon us here in Alaska, and that means an influx of new workers comp claims. We of course have our seasonal claims (in Alaska we say the seasons are Spring Breakup, Summer, Three Weeks of “Fall” and Winter.) There are other types of seasons we work with in Alaska as well, such as salmon, cod, hunting, tourist and construction seasons.
Imagine a five month construction season where you have 14 to 23 hours of sunlight. Although our summer is short, the days are long and employers are running shifts 24 hours a day. The extended work schedule can be challenging when an injury occurs in a remote location after hours. Most employers who have remote sites actually employ or contract with a safety provider during these times so that medical care and initial triage is available on site.
Fishing season in Alaska is a year-round business. Fish processing plants in small Alaska communities like Dutch Harbor, Kodiak and Seward are also running 24 hours a day. These employees are usually working 18 hour shifts on what is affectionately and quite accurately known as the “slime line.” Injuries unique to the fishing season have included broken teeth from being hit in the face with a 40 pound frozen king salmon, fish slime in the eye, and paralytic shellfish poisoning from handling king crab.
Tourist season in Alaska is not just the snowbirds returning from their winter RV camps in Yuma, Ariz. We are also the proud hosts of a wide variety of cruise ships, hunters, fishermen and of course our Lower 48 friends and family. Tourism is the second biggest income generator in Alaska (second to the oil industry). Our unique tourism opportunities also mean interesting jobs that require workers compensation coverage. Injured workers can range from tour bus drivers, helicopter pilots, kayak and river guides, and sled dog mushers.
There is never a dull moment in any kind of workers comp office, but Alaska certainly provides some interesting and unusual claims. With the summer season upon us, and some unusually warm weather, we Alaskans are out and about as much as possible, meaning that every claim that comes into our office could be the next focus of our Alaskan claims adventure.