When one of your employees is injured at work, it’s important to act fast. An immediate response may save lives or help minimize the damage. It can also smooth the follow up process and save your business money.
Create a safe workplace
How you respond to injuries in the workplace is important, but it’s better to avoid them if you can. Establishing a safe work environment and culture of safety is the best way to do this.
Preventing workplace injuries starts with you, the business owner. If you take on-the-job safety seriously, it encourages your employees to take it seriously as well. Workplace safety training, including refresher courses given throughout the year, helps employees know what they can do to avoid injury and how to respond when one occurs.
It’s also important to give your employees the tools they need to prevent and respond to workplace injuries. This starts with the basic safety equipment or clothing they need to safely do their job. A fully stocked first aid kit is essential for treating minor injuries, and a detailed emergency response plan can help in more urgent situations.
Finally, do an audit of your workplace to ensure you are following all Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines for workplace safety.
How to respond to employee injuries
No matter how safe your workplace may be, injuries can still happen. As a business owner, you will need to take certain steps to minimize its impact on your business.
1. Respond immediately after an injury
When an employee is injured, you or a designated safety officer should take the lead in the initial response.
- Get people to safety. Injured workers should be moved away from dangerous areas, and others should be kept clear of the danger.
- Assess the situation. Determine how the employee was injured and how severe the injury is. This can help ensure others do not get hurt and provide important information for emergency responders or your insurer.
- Assist the injured. First aid may be appropriate for minor scraps, cuts, and burns. However, more serious injuries should be assessed and treated by emergency or medical professionals. It may seem overcautious to call 911, but the employee might be unaware of the extent of their injury. When in doubt, emergency services can provide a professional assessment and help prevent further injury.
2. Gather information and save evidence
Employee safety and care is your top priority after an injury. However, it’s also important to gather details about what happened while everything is still fresh in your mind.
- Write down the relevant details of the incident: What happened, who was involved, how you responded, etc.
- Gather witness testimony from anyone else who was there
- Keep evidence of the injury, including photos of the scene or equipment that was involved.
Even if an injury seems minor or the employee says they are fine, it’s still important to gather evidence. The employee may seek medical treatment at a later time or decide to file a workers’ comp claim.
3. File a workers’ comp claim
If a workers’ compensation claim is filed, it should be done as soon as possible. Some states even have time limits for when you must file a claim by law. For example, employers in Florida have 7 days to file a workers’ comp claim once they are made aware of a workplace injury.
Be sure to provide your insurer or agent with relevant documents and evidence when you submit the claim and send requested information as soon as possible. This will help speed up the process, so your employee can get the financial support they need with little delay.
4. Keep lines of communication open
Maintaining communication is in your best interest as a business owner. Resolving a workplace injury quickly gets your employee the help they need to get back to work. It could also save you the hassle and expense of a workplace injury lawsuit.
As the business owner, you should assist those involved with the injury, recovery process and claim in any way you can. This includes the injured employee, their doctor, and your Workers’ Compensation insurance provider.
Consider creating a document to give to all new employees that outlines the workers’ comp process and your company’s return-to-work policy. This is a good way to build trust between you and your staff and lower future claims costs.
5. Know how to handle a lawsuit
If a workplace injury becomes a workers’ comp lawsuit, it’s still important to keep lines of communication open. The longer it takes to resolve a lawsuit, the more expensive it will likely be.
Provide relevant information and documentation to the attorneys and your insurance provider in a timely fashion. Many Workers’ Compensation policies will help you pay legal fees associated with workplace injury lawsuits. It can also cover the cost of any settlement or judgement you are ordered to pay.
Workers’ Comp insurance for your small business
Responding to workplace injuries quickly and efficiently can help small business owners get their employees safely back to work. The right Workers’ Compensation insurance can help make this process even easier. Visit BizInsure to find the policy that’s right for your small business.