Federal and state laws require businesses to carry workers’ compensation insurance for one simple reason: injuries happen. Even in the safest of environments, it is possible for accidents to lead to minor or serious injuries. It is in the best interests of businesses to learn how to handle workplace injuries in a way that meets the needs of the injured worker and mitigates costs at the same time.
From our perspective, there are three things businesses can do to correctly handle workplace injuries. These are:
We explain each of these three things below. As you read, keep in mind that BenefitMall offers workers’ compensation for small business. Our workers’ comp plans are flexible and responsive so that clients only pay what is necessary to properly cover their workers.
Prepare for Injuries
Whether you are talking about workplace injuries or natural disasters, preparation is key. Companies prepare when they know a severe storm is blowing in; they ought to prepare for the eventuality of workplace injuries too. Very few companies go their entire histories without experiencing injuries.
Preparations for eventual injuries begin with making sure a company has a good workers’ compensation policy. This should be followed with:
- developing an accident reporting process that keeps all relevant parties informed;
- developing procedural guidelines outlining how each person involved will contribute to resolution; and
- posting clear instructions throughout the workplace to let employees know what to do if they are injured.
Respond to Injuries
The worst thing a company can do in a workers’ comp case is fail to respond to the employee's needs. Immediately following an injury, the most important thing is to make sure the worker gets the necessary medical attention. Emergencies need to be handled by calling first responders; non-emergencies can be handled commensurate with the injury itself.
Once a medical treatment has been secured, the response transitions to other things. For example, information gathering and reporting are necessary. Consider the following:
- Incident Facts – Any workers’ compensation claim will have to be supported by facts. Therefore, the company HR department needs to gather the facts and put them together in a comprehensive report. This report should cover the who, what, and how of the accident along with information about any medical treatment. If testimony from witnesses exists, it should be included.
- Reporting the Incident – Fact-gathering should by followed by reporting the incident to the company's workers’ comp insurance carrier. In a best case scenario, injuries are reported within 24 hours. The sooner an incident is reported, the sooner an insurance company can do what it needs to do to make sure the injured worker's needs are met.
Follow-Up after the Injury
Lastly, it is important for companies to follow up with injured workers in the days and weeks after the incident. They should be willing to do whatever it takes to help the injured worker get back on his or her feet and back to work. This requires open lines of communication between employer, employee, medical teams, and insurance carriers.
Failing to follow-up can be problematic should an injured worker decide to sue. Obviously, civil litigation is something that companies want to avoid. It is far better to adhere to sound follow-up policies than take the risk of a lawsuit.
Workplace injuries are a fact of life for small businesses. If you want to know more about how our workers’ compensation for small business can help your company, please don't hesitate to contact us. We want to make sure your company is adequately protected.