Workplace injuries are common in many industries, and can pose significant threats to any business. Nearly 3 percent of full-time employees are injured each year. The countless relevant regulations, from state laws to federal statutes and more, mean you need to be careful when managing these issues.
It’s also important to have an effective workers compensation plan in place. As one Philadelphia workers compensation lawyer explains, “an employer has to provide workers compensation insurance for employees.”
When a worker is injured on the job, it’s the employers responsibility to provide compensation. That said, there’s no one size fits all approach to handling workplace injuries. However, these steps can help you respond appropriately.
- Have a medical care protocol in place
Your plan for workplace injuries should be well-established and known by all employees. You need, for example, a designated employee responsible for transport to a hospital or other provider. All company practices must meet the standards put forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known as OSHA.
- Conduct an internal investigation
For purposes of compensation, your insurance provider is responsible for determining fault. That said, it’s still worthwhile to investigate the incident on your own. By reporting the accident and interviewing those involved, you can discover went wrong and attempt to reduce similar accidents from occuring in the future.
- Let OSHA know
Businesses are responsible for notifying OSHA of workplace incidents. The window of time differs based on the accident, but they must be made aware within 8 hours of a death and 24 hours of a serious injury (such as hospitalization or amputation). Even if the incident didn’t lead to one of those outcomes, you should still expect OSHA to conduct an inspection.
- Create a mutually beneficial leave plan
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) outlines protocols related to leave. Although many employers may be unaware of this, time off under the FMLA may be combined with leave for workers’ compensation.
Try to notify employees and management alike that the two can be served in tandem. However, it’s also important to keep in touch with healthcare providers to determine an appropriate duration of leave.
- Keep the ADAAA in mind
Most employers aren’t fully aware of their rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA). If an injury leads to a workplace impairment, for example, businesses are required to reasonably accommodate the disability. If you’re considering terminating the injured party, remember that, depending on the circumstances, you could be found liable for wrongful termination under a number of statutes.
- Carefully analyze your protocols
While most workplace injuries result in only a short absence from work, your policies should be written so as to prepare for all possibilities. Remaining in compliance with relevant laws and regulations is the top priority, but you should try to make your policies as clear as possible to lower the possibility of them being abused.
- Keep in touch
Your legal responsibilities may be somewhat limited, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do more. Obtain all relevant medical records and use the resources you have to get as much information as possible. Doing so will both to reduce liability and help ensure adequate documentation is present.
- Communicate with all employees
It’s important to stay in contact with other employees following an incident. If they believe it was caused by unnecessary risk, for example, getting their input shows that you care about their well-being and trust their opinions. Providing any necessary support is also a great way to ensure work rate isn’t too impacted. An open dialogue on both sides is key to both safety and productivity.
Workplace incidents are unpredictable, but by taking proactive measures, you can put your business in a better position to recover. Learning more about common injuries can help you anticipate issues and identify potential risks.
That said, each injury is different and calls for a unique approach in order to best serve the needs of all sides involved. By setting out a general plan for injury response, you can reduce the impact when an accident does occur in the workplace.