Legal Guide

A Step-by-Step Guide to Handling a Workplace Injury

No one goes to work expecting to get hurt on the job, but accidents do happen, and it's best to have a plan in place for unforeseen events. Whether you are involved in an accident or responding to one, having a process in place can alleviate the stress that occurs after an incident. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to handle a work-related injury.

Seek Medical Attention and Secure the Scene

You should assess the need for medical attention immediately following an accident. If you need to call 911 or get the employee to a medical provider, it's important to respond swiftly. The accident scene needs to be secured, and access needs to be cut off to avoid further accidents. Also, prohibiting access to the scene will allow for a proper and thorough investigation to take place. An investigation is not made to accuse anyone of wrongdoing but to learn how to respond in the future. Also, make sure all mechanical and electrical equipment is turned off.

Communicate with Involved Parties and Complete Paperwork

It's important to communicate frequently with all the parties involved in an accident immediately after it occurs. Clear lines of communication will ensure the safest and most efficient return to work. Meet with your human resources team to identify what information can be exchanged since you'll need to be sensitive to any protected and confidential information. Next, you'll work on completing the necessary documentation, and the law requires you to report incidents to the closest Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) office. Information needs to be filled out correctly and thoroughly if you are filing a compensation claim.

Create a Plan to Return to Work

Returning to work after an injury should be a gradual process. You should not expect yourself or your employees to be their usual selves as soon as they are ready to come back. A successful return to work plan includes modified duties over a specified timeframe. This tactic will boost the employee morale and confidence and save the company overhead from paying out disability claims.

Adjust Protocols

Unfortunately, many companies sweep accident prevention and response under the rug. Understanding the root causes of an accident will help you remain proactive for the future. Try to collect as much objective evidence as possible from eyewitnesses, previous reports on details of other incidents, and documentation on how other situations were handled. Suggest recommendations to decision-makers who can put a new plan into action. With a clear direction, you'll ensure that a similar incident does not happen again.

Create a Culture of Prevention and Safety

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and this adage applies well to workplace safety. Hold regular staff meetings and training sessions that review safety protocols and crisis response. Revisit the core values of your organization and determine the emphasis that the organization places on safety. Consider creating an incentive system that rewards the department for zero accidents over a set time. You will get a stronger response from employees who are “bought-in” to safe work culture. It's not realistic to prevent accidents entirely, but a strong culture will help reduce the risk dramatically. Employees will feel more empowered and better equipped on how to handle workplace injury.

A workplace accident is stressful if you are unsure of what steps to take. Every type of business has the potential for an accident. However, a concrete response plan and a culture that focuses on prevention and safety are paramount for a successful response to an accident.

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