Running a business comes with many different responsibilities, but one of the most important is employee health and safety. Nothing should compromise your ability to provide a safe working environment for those in your employment.
Unfortunately, though, injuries and accidents do happen and sometimes these are out of our control. The industry that your business works in will depend on the risk and type of injuries that can occur. Obviously, those who are operating heavy machinery face a different threat to those who work in an office.
No matter what sector you are in, there is always the chance that an accident will occur. If it does, then how you respond to the incident can have a significant bearing on your liability, your reputation and ultimately the mood of the entire workforce.
Here’s how you should respond to an injury to an employee.
Seek medical attention
Upon hearing the news of an injury to a member of your workforce, your first thought might be how this is going to impact on you financially. That’s understandable when the average injury to an employee costs a business $1,700.
Despite this, you need to push financial concerns to the side. Your first and only priority should be ensuring that your employee gets the medical attention they need and deserve. A failure to provide this will not only impact negatively on the employee in terms of how they view the support they receive from you, but it could also have serious legal repercussions at a later date.
If the injury is serious, do no hesitate to call 911. Even if the injury doesn’t appear as though it requires emergency attention, you should still always encourage the employee to visit a doctor. Minor aches from a tweaked back, for example, can develop into chronic back pain within a few hours, so it is always best to ensure that your employee is checked out as a precautionary measure.
File a report on the incident
Once the employee has received the appropriate medical care and attention that they require, then your focus can switch to what your obligations are as a business. Every injured employee in the United States has a right to file a claim, and it is your duty to help them do this by providing them with a claim form should they ask for one.
If the worker decides to pursue a claim, then you’ll need to report the incident to your worker’s compensation insurance company via a First Report of Injury or Illness form. In addition to supplying all the information required by this document, you’ll also want to submit any other information and additional documents that could help you in a future lawsuit.
Record what other workers who witnessed the incident saw happen, write down your own immediate thoughts and take pictures if applicable. Make sure you store all this information in a well-organized file as it isn’t unusual for a lawsuit to be filed many years after the actual event has taken place.
Cooperate with the employee when it comes to compensation
If a claim is pursued, then you must cooperate with your worker’s compensation carrier and their attorneys. Personal injury specialists such as Diaz Law Firm are experts at their jobs and will seek to do what is right by your employee and the best way you can help the situation is by cooperating with them as much as possible.
They will likely ask for all kinds of documentation and files regarding your employee and the incident, so be sure to give them whatever they require – don’t withhold any information. At the same time though, you should be wary or handing documents other to any other attorneys claiming to represent the injured employee. Should somebody contact you saying this, immediately contact the worker’s compensation carrier for clarification of the situation.
At the end of the day, nobody wants a drawn-out legal process to follow an injury or accident. It can prove to be costly to you as a business both in financial terms and reputational. The last thing you want is to gain a reputation as an employer who doesn’t look after their employees, so getting the issue sorted quickly and with as little fuss as possible is a priority.
Welcome the employee back to work
After an injury, you are responsible for welcoming the employee back to work as soon as they are physically ready to resume their duties. You can do this through what is known as a phased return to work, whereby an employee can come back to the workplace and gradually take on more and more of their old duties as their confidence and physical ability improve.
It is illegal to sack or penalize an employee for filing a claim or getting injured on the job through no fault of their own and to do so could open yourself up to further legal proceedings. The best way to put the whole situation behind you is by getting the employee back to work as soon as they are capable.
Learn from the incident to prevent future workplace injuries
After an injury or accident, it is your job to prevent the same incident occurring again in the future. To have an accident happen once is unfortunate, to have the same accident happen again strays into the murky waters of negligence.
Look at all the factors that contributed to the injury occurring in the first place. Was it as a result of a lack of or inadequate training? Were adequate health and safety procedures in place to prevent the incident from happening? Was it due to faulty or unsafe equipment or was shortcutting to speed up the time taken to complete a task actively encouraged?
By discovering the reason behind the incident and carrying out a suitable risk assessment, you can put measures in place to prevent it from happening again. Injuries can be a costly and unnecessary expenditure to your business, so putting plans in place to prevent them is certainly worthwhile.