A worker’s compensation claim brings up images of people working in warehouses or on construction sites and having horrific accidents.
However, the fact is that workplace injuries go far beyond just blue collar jobs where people work with potentially dangerous equipment. Workplace injuries can be caused by someone slipping and falling on a freshly washed floor or even someone just typing too much.
If your small business doesn’t seem like the type of place where an injury would readily happen, you might get a little complacent and not think too much about it, but you should definitely be prepared for when it inevitably happens.
Here are some tips to help you get your workers’ compensation procedures in place before an injury occurs.
Help the Employee get Treatment
Regardless of what the injury is, the health of the employee is always of the utmost priority for all involved. Immediately after the injury happens, help the employee to find the right care provider. Obviously for serious injuries, you’ll need to call 911 or have someone transport the employee to a hospital. But for more minor injuries, you should have a first aid kit on hand. There is nothing worse than getting a cut and not having any bandages around.
It’s always a good idea to recommend to your employees that they take CPR training, as it could save someone’s life someday.
Inform Your Insurance Provider
As soon as it is possible, the company should inform its workers’ compensation insurer. Probably the best way to do this is through the use of a formal incident reporting form. This will allow the employee to document when, where and how the incident happened while those details are still fresh in their mind.
Formal documentation also allows an employer to have a record of the incident on hand.
Be Wary of Scams
It’s an unfortunate fact of life, but people cheat the workers’ compensation system. Some employees are serial cheaters and will try to do it at every job they hold.
Some ways an employee can try to cheat the system include:
- saying an injury happened while working when in actuality it happened outside of work,
- exaggerating an injury, or
- faking an injury.
Workers’ compensation fraud costs businesses over $7 million per year, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, so it’s worth it to spend a little extra time on a thorough background check on employees. Insurance fraud in an employee’s past is an obvious red flag to look for. The best prevention against a scam is to not hire employees who will try to scam you.
Familiarize Yourself with Your State’s Reinstatement Requirements
Your business will be obligated to hold a person’s job or a have a job awaiting that person that is identical in its pay and responsibilities if the employee uses the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Once FMLA runs out, though, you’ll need to know your state’s laws on whether or not you’re required to reinstate the employee.
To be on the safe side, you should hold the employee’s position and have other employees or contract workers handle the duties while the employee is away. If you are unable to do that for some reason, check your local laws and consult with legal counsel about how to protect your business while replacing the position.
Welcome the Injured Employee Back
When the injured employee recovers and returns, welcome them back with open arms and allow the person to return to normal duties (or start with light duties and work their way back to normal duties if necessary). It should never seem like you’re penalizing employees for getting injured in any way or that could lead to legal action.
If the injured employee is part of a team at work, meet with all members of that team or the employee’s immediate supervisor and make sure everyone knows the importance of welcoming the employee back and providing support to them while things return to normal.
Quick and decisive action is what is needed when an employee is injured at work to avoid the situation escalating. The number one way to avoid bad situations due to injured workers is to, of course, make sure they don’t get injured in the first place. Promote safety every chance you get and help employees when they do get injured.
[Main photo courtesy of Fernando de Sousa on Flickr]