Workplace Injuries–What To Do and How to Handle It.
Peter F. Bohan Director of Firm Administration, MBA
8 October 2019
Depending on the industry you work in, workplace injuries may be a rare occurrence. If your workforce is primarily white collar/office, then workplace injuries may not happen often. The goal of this article is to help prepare the person who does not have much experience dealing with these types of events. Like most things in life, being prepared with the basic information before you need to deal with a workplace injury will make the process a much easier one for the HR person handling the event.
The basics to know before a workplace injury occurs are:
Who is your Worker’s Compensation (WC) Carrier and what is their contact information?
Depending on the state and the WC carrier, you may have designated medical providers that you need to send the injured employee to (in case of an emergency go to the nearest qualified care facility) or a preferred network.
Make yourself aware of these and other specifics of your WC policy before a workplace accident occurs.
If you do have a workplace accident, your first priority is getting the injured employee medical treatment as soon as possible. In an emergency situation, call 911. In a non-emergency situation, transport the injured employee to the appropriate medical facility – this may mean a hospital, an urgent care facility or a walk-in clinic.
Understanding the coverage and policy requirements before an accident occurs will cut down on stress if and when they occur. Reacting quickly, competently and with concern can go a long way in how the injured employee views the organization and even how quickly they may return to work. In other words, the initial response to the event may be the most critical aspect of the event.
After the injured employee has received medical care, the next priority is the reporting requirements. Most WC policies require that workplace accidents be reported within 24 hours of when they occur. Requirements for reporting injuries to the state government will vary from state to state. Massachusetts requires reporting any workplace injury/illness after the five full days of full or partial disability (these do not need to be consecutive).
The Employer’s First Report of Injury or Fatality (form 101) must be completed and submitted within 7 days of reaching the 5th day of full or partial disability. Any claim resulting in less than five days of full or partial disability is considered a medical- only claim and typically only needs to be reported to your WC carrier.
OSHA requires notification when an employee is killed in a work-related accident, suffers a work-related injury resulting in “in-patient hospitalization, amputation or eye loss.” Fatalities must be reported within 8 hours.
If a workplace injury requires missed time from work, then good communication with the employee is very important towards the goal of helping that employee return to work.
Depending on the nature of the injury, modified work arrangements are an option to getting the employee back into the work environment (if medically cleared). This could mean making accommodations so that they are not lifting any heavy items or reducing or eliminating walking or standing requirements until the employee has recovered. The sooner an employee has returned to work, the less likely there will be long-term issues from the event.