As one work injury lawyer in Philadelphia reports, companies must pay injured employees workers compensation for up to 500 weeks. This direct cost can be substantial, but the indirect costs, such as loss of productivity, can have even more of an impact on your company’s bottom line. Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely ensure no one will ever get hurt on the job. That’s why it’s important you know how to respond if anyone ever does.
To better prepare for these kinds of accidents, keep the following points in mind.
- Know What to Expect: Statistics indicate that literally hundreds of thousands of overexertion injuries occur every year. Additionally, these injuries tend to represent a very large percentage of annual workers’ compensation claims. Slips, trips, and falls are usually the second most common type of workplace accident. Machine entanglement injuries are also common in manufacturing, as are repetitive motion injuries and illnesses like carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Don't Hesitate to Seek Medical Care: The most important thing to do when an employee gets hurt on the job is to ensure they receive proper medical care as soon as possible. If you’re qualified, perform any necessary first aid. Try to keep other employees away unless they’re able to help directly. There may be instances in which an employee suffers a seemingly minor injury. They might insist they are okay, and don’t need medical care. Encourage them to seek it anyway. Just because an injury doesn’t feel serious, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t caused underlying damage that may not be obviously visible at first.
- File a Report Right Away: OSHA requires businesses to report all workplace injuries. However, the guidelines pertaining to when and how you need to report an accident can vary depending on a large number of factors, including the specific industry you work in, the time the injury occurred, and more. Study your industry’s requirements thoroughly to make sure you file the report correctly and on time.
- Gather all Requested and Potentially Important Information: If a workers’ compensation claim is filed, you’ll need to cooperate with both the carrier and attorneys.They’ll probably request certain information about the employee in question. Follow through on these requests in accordance with legal requirements, but be careful with whom you share this information. An injury may prevent an employee from returning to work for a certain amount of time. Prepare accordingly. You might need to hire and train an interim replacement. Remember, you can’t penalize an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Make sure they feel welcome when they do return to work. It’s worth noting that in some cases, an employee may technically be cleared to go back to work, despite their injury making it difficult to perform all tasks assigned to them. That’s why it’s a good idea to consider developing a ‘return to work’ program. This type of initiative allows injured employees to slowly ease back into their roles without risking overexertion.
- Make Adjustments: An employee’s injury may reveal flaws in your workplace safety program. After investigating the accident, consider if there are ways you can adjust the program to reduce the chances of similar accidents occurring in the future. Workplace safety programs are not static. They should constantly evolve as you learn more. Being proactive makes it easier to protect your workers more effectively in the future.