How to Manage Workplace Injuries Effectively
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No matter how safe your work environment, accidents can still happen, so it's best to be prepared for when they do. This prepares everyone and allows action to be taken quickly and effectively. Here are some suggestions to take into consideration before, during and after an employee is injured.
Prevention is Better Than Cure
So the old saying goes, meaning it is best to take all possible precautions in order to minimize the quantity and severity of injuries.
All new-hires should be made aware in their training about job-specific limitations, such as not moving items over a certain weight alone. Make sure as a business owner to always give your employees sufficient time to complete tasks, so they are not attempting to cut corners and put themselves and/or others at risk.
It is ideal to examine your workplace frequently for any potential hazards and address them immediately. If reconciling hazards will take time, make sure caution signs are out and clearly marked, and all employees are made aware of the hazard, as well as approximately how long until it is fixed.
Have a detailed strategy created for what actions need to happen should an employee get injured. This should be discussed thoroughly during new-hire training, as well as refreshers given periodically for all employees. Run through various employee injury scenarios, such as demonstrating how to use medical ice packs for first-aid treatment. Also, make sure to have each employee's emergency contact easily accessible and up-to-date.
Managing a Workplace Accident
Although some injuries can be predictable depending on the environment, no one knows when an accident will occur, that's why it's called an accident.
The first thing to do after one occurs is to determine the severity of the injury and assess if it requires solely first-aid and then return to work, first-aid and then sent home, a doctor's visit or a 911 call. Be sure to save any accident-related items and take photos of the scene if necessary, in case there is an insurance investigation. Then make sure the area is secured so it doesn't happen to anyone else.
When a worker is injured on the job, they are usually covered by Workers' Compensation, which is vital in a country that doesn't have universal healthcare and where most employers are not required to offer or provide health insurance. Their recovery and well-being should be your number one priority, so you should file the claim papers with your Workers' Compensation Insurance carrier within 24 hours of the accident to ensure that they receive their benefits as quickly as possible. You must also report the accident to OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, if the injury was severe enough.
Follow-Up After an Employee is Injured
After the employee has received any medical treatment needed or has rested for an allotted amount of time, contact the employee or their caregivers to inquire about how they are doing. A follow-up call should be made a few days later to discuss with them their plans, if any, that they have to return to work. Do not force anything, allow them and their doctor to determine when is best. Make arrangements to cover their position temporarily during their absence, but assure them their position will be there for them when they are ready, and follow up on that promise. Work with them to ease their transition back into work, such as reduced hours, temporarily changing tasks or working remotely, if possible.
Be sure to keep your team informed about their co-workers condition, being sensitive to private information, and let your team know what you have done, or will do, to make the workplace safer for the future.