When things are running smoothly, and injuries are rare, it can be a bit shocking when one does happen. Is your business prepared to properly handle an injury at work? Do you know where the necessary incident report is, and Workers’ Compensation information is located? Being prepared is just as important as taking action. Here are a few tips on how to be prepared and how to handle an injury in the workplace.
Being Prepared for a Workplace Injury
No one wants to think about getting hurt, but it is important to understand the risks of your workplace and ensure there is a plan in place in the event something does happen, and an employee is hurt.
- Have Workers’ Compensation insurance. Usually the premium alone is less than the liability you hold as an employer for a workplace injury. Don’t skip this insurance when you have any number of employees! Florida requires all employers to purchase Workers’ Comp when they have four or more employees, but those with less should still consider purchasing it.
- Formulate policy and procedure for an accident. Decide what steps should be taken when an accident happens so that the response is quick and consistent across the board. In addition to receiving care, ensure the policy has a checklist that includes completing necessary paperwork after the accident including: an incident report, medical consent forms, return to work release forms, and any necessary Workers’ Comp forms.
- Establish light-duty job descriptions. If an employee is partially cleared to return to work but can only perform light duty tasks, be sure that there is something for them to do at work, especially if they traditionally perform very hands-on tasks. They can answer phones, file paperwork, or provide assistance to other full-duty employees. You can also provide alternate means for completing regular tasks; if they typically carry heavy items, provide a wheeled cart.
- Prevention is key. Ensure that all employees are given proper training and receive updated training when necessary. Also, make sure that all of your employees are practicing approved safety maneuvers. Most injuries occur when an employee is poorly trained or ignoring regular safety practices. Be sure that they are equipped with any safety items needed to safely complete a job such as gloves, hard hats, protective clothing, ear muffs, or protective eyewear.
What to do After an Accident
Prevention, training, and all-around preparedness may not always be enough to prevent an accident. Sometimes injuries occur no matter how hard we try to prevent them. When they do occur, it is important to act quickly and encourage employees to come forward with their injuries, so they can be properly treated.
- Provide medical attention. When an injury occurs, access the injury and provide first aid. Also, if the employee is able to, have them go to the doctor. If the employee is unable to get care themselves, contact emergency services to have the employee taken by ambulance for medical care.
- Investigate the accident. After an employee notifies you of an accident or you were there to witness the incident, and care has been established, you will need to figure out what went wrong to cause an injury. Get a statement from the injured employee and any witness. Take photos of the accident scene and machinery involved. Was it an employee error or machinery breakdown? Was the accident avoidable – this can help you learn how to improve safety standards. When it comes to workplace accidents, there is no such thing as too much documentation.
- File the Workers’ Comp claim. Contact your insurance carrier to report the claim and they will help you through each step of the way, including notifying you of what documentation they may need. Also, make sure that the medical provider has the Workers’ Comp information so that they can properly bill the treatment. The employee should also be given the insurance information in case the medical provider makes a mistake in billing and the employee gets a notice of payment due.
- Follow up with your employee. Check on how they are doing and make sure that they are not receiving any bills. Checking in will show that you and your company care about its people. Also, knowing if and when they will return to work will help your company to prepare for their return, including establishing any light duties that might need to be performed, or any improvements to safety practices (or reminders of current safety practices) that need to be made.