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According to a recent report from Columbia University, business travel may lead to serious medical conditions that require treatment and may even result in permanent disability. The study found that people who travel for business two weeks or more a month report more symptoms of depression and anxiety than those who travel one to six nights a month. They are also more likely to smoke, be sedentary, and report trouble sleeping. Additionally, for those who consumed alcohol, extensive business travel was associated with symptoms of alcohol dependence.
In Texas, employees engaged in business travel (i.e., a special mission) remain in the course and scope of employment for the duration of the special mission unless there has been a “deviation” from or abandonment of the course and scope of employment. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co. v. Orgon, 721 S.W.2d 572 (Tex. App.-Austin 1986, writ ref’d n.r.e.). This is sometimes referred to as the principle of “continuous coverage.” The "continuous coverage doctrine" extends workers’ compensation liability for injuries even when an employee is technically off duty.
Bottom line: Employers and carriers should exercise safe protocols to prevent their employees from developing mental health issues, including alcoholism and depression, as there is now scientifically-backed evidence that business travel is a potential occupational hazard.
The results of the study are published online in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. (Andrew G. Rundle, Tracey A. Revenson, Michael Friedman. Business travel and behavioral and mental health. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2017; 1 DOI: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001262.)
~ This blog submission was prepared by Erin Shanley, an attorney with Stone Loughlin & Swanson, LLC, a law firm dedicated to representing self-insured employers, insurance carriers, and third party administrators in all matters related to workers’ compensation. Stone Loughlin & Swanson is a member of the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network (NWCDN). If you have any questions about this submission or Texas workers’ compensation in general, please contact Erin by e-mailing her at email@example.com or by calling her directly at (512) 343-1300.