An Employee Was Injured at Work – Now What?
Private industry employers reported approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and serious illnesses in 2017. Despite your best efforts and all the workplace safety tips in the world, workplace injuries are bound to happen. When they do, employers can feel like they were thrown into the deep end without a lifejacket. There are so many factors to juggle: OSHA reports, workers’ compensation, lost time, medical leave, safety investigations, policy reviews, culture reviews, insurance, and much more. Many times, navigating this process is stressful for employers.
Even for an expert, post-workplace injury protocol can be difficult to keep up with. As a broker, it’s your job to advocate for your clients and direct them toward trustworthy and knowledgeable sources. Start by sharing these tips with your clients so they’ll be prepared when disaster strikes.
Rule of thumb:
Follow the workplace safety guidelines of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA to a T. But, you already knew that. The problem is, sometimes OSHA’s robust guidelines can be difficult to digest — for employers and brokers alike.
While reading OSHA’s complete workplace safety guidelines never hurts, here are the highlights.
Be prepared — plan for the worst
Protect employees by eliminating potential risks. Some risks are easier to mitigate than others. For example, most employees know that all stairways should be well-lit. Ensure employees understand their duties and when to perform them. In this example, employees should know whom to contact about a lightbulb that needs to be replaced and that it’s their duty as an employee to report these potential risks. Custodial staff should know to prioritize work that reduces risks. For risks that are easier to manage, like this example, cross your T’s and dot your I’s. Don’t let something like a lightbulb that needs replacement be the reason an employee is injured.
Other risks can be more difficult to eliminate and may be indicative of a deeper culture issue. In these cases, remind employees why they should choose to be safe; not just because there are rules, but because those rules protect them — and could even save their lives.
A detailed workplace injury protocol should be created and discussed at all levels of the organization. This protocol should be updated annually as the organization changes.
Workplace Safety Tip: Host events for employees to get CPR and First Aid certified.
When disaster strikes, quick response time is crucial. Follow these steps after an injury occurs:
Step 1: Move uninjured employees to safety. Their proximity to the accident could put them at risk or put the injured employee at a greater risk. It’s important that emergency services have an unobstructed path to the injured if necessary.
Step 2: Next, asses the situation. Determine if the cause of the injury is still a threat. If so, focus solely on neutralizing that risk to prevent further injury. This may sound obvious, but good Samaritans are at serious risk if they have not properly assessed their surroundings before focusing on the injured employee.
Step 3: Evaluate injuries and their severity. If the injuries are minor, treat them using first aid. Remember to always use gloves when blood is present. Call for emergency medical services if necessary. If you are unsure if emergency services are needed or not err on the side of caution.
Step 4: Don’t forget to gather info as soon as injuries have been treated. Write down all the relevant details. Informal notes will assist with filling out formal paperwork and reports later. Gather evidence, as well. Even if employees say they feel fine, be sure to document all injuries.
Workplace Safety Tip: Take photos of the scene of the injury and injury itself as soon as possible after an injury occurs.
Paperwork and communication
Paperwork should be completed promptly after an injury to avoid fines and comply with OSHA laws. OSHA states that any workplace injury resulting in death must be reported 8 hours after. Any injury resulting in an in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye must be reported within 24 hours. Reports can be made by phone or electronically submitted.
Employers are legally obligated to assist injured employees with filing worker’s compensation forms. Keeping lines of communication open is in your clients’ best interest. Employers should also be transparent and cooperative with the doctor, the claims adjustor, and the insurance agent.
Workplace Safety Tip: Create a plain-English document outlining policies and procedures relating to workers’ compensation and return-to-work rules for your organization. This builds trust with employees, sets expectations, and can even lower claims costs.
Ideally, a workers’ compensation claim should be settled without litigation, but this isn’t always the case. If a workplace injury becomes a lawsuit, it’s imperative the lines of communication stay open. The longer the lawsuit lasts, the more expensive it becomes. Keeping communication open expedites the process.
Do you have specific questions? Of course you do, because your clients are unique and have unique needs. The pros at ThinkHR have extensive knowledge on navigating these unfortunate situations. Give your clients the support they need to protect themselves and their clients. Request a consultation today.