January 22, 2019
By Rebecca Batisto
Thousands of people are injured every year in workplace accidents. Some are relatively minor, but others are more severe and could lead to life-altering disabilities. Many of the most common work-related injuries, as reported by chiropractors, include slips, trips, and falls; repetitive strain injury (carpal tunnel syndrome); being hit by fallen objects; and muscle strain. If someone is injured at your place of business, you may be left wondering how to handle the situation correctly.
Your insurance agent may have a toolkit or checklist of some kind to help in case of an accident at work. This may include medical treatment consent forms and return-to-work release forms, among other things.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure your company carries workers’ compensation insurance. If someone does get hurt, expenses can quickly add up. Employers can be responsible for paying for emergency room visits, overnight stays, and rehabilitation. Workers’ compensation insurance makes sure that doesn’t come directly out of your pocket. Of course, most states require companies to carry this type of insurance, so you probably already have it.
If there’s an accident at work, it’s important to stay calm. It’s much more difficult to handle an emergency situation if you don’t keep your cool. If one of your employees needs medical assistance, call 911 or drive them to a hospital or emergency clinic to be checked out by a doctor. Hopefully, they’ll be medically released and be able to return to work immediately. Not seeking medical help after an accident could lead to bigger and more expensive problems down the road. “Walk it off” is something that should never be heard in the workplace.
Once your worker has received any necessary medical attention, determine what caused the accident. Take pictures of anything you see that might be important to the insurance company. You should also take witness statements if anyone else was around to see what happened. The stress of an accident can impair an injured person’s memory, so they may not be able to remember exactly what led to the incident. You should also make a note of your own thoughts. Hopefully, it will never come to a lawsuit, but it’s important to have that information in case it does.
Send any information you collect about the accident along with what’s called a First Report of Injury to your insurance agent. This form provides the injured worker’s insurance company information on the claimant, employer, insurance carrier, and medical practitioner so the claims process can begin.
By law, you cannot terminate any employee or penalize them for filing a claim. As soon as the employee is physically able to return to work, you’re responsible for helping them resume employment in their old position, or find them an equivalent position if their abilities have changed due to the accident.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a list of guidelines each employer should follow to keep their workers safe from harm. Some specific things you can do to prevent many of the most common workplace injuries include utilizing cones when mopping floors or posting signs in areas where the floor is wet. Give your employees proper training on the use of ergonomic equipment to lower the incidence of repetitive strain injuries. And if you have workers who regularly lift heavy objects, be sure they are trained in proper lifting techniques.