How to Handle the Aftermath of a Workplace Injury

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Courtesy of Intelex Technologies Inc.

Accidents happen – it’s an unfortunate reality for many employees, who are susceptible to accidents at work, and employers, who often are monetarily liable for medical bills and reparations after the fact. While the proper precautions can significantly lessen the risks associated with workplace injuries, employers should be aware of the proper processes following an accident.

To better control the safety of your individual employees, professional reputation and legal liabilities, follow these three must-do strategies.

1. Respond immediately

Acting fast after an employee is injured limits the risk of life-threatening complications. First, call 911 immediately following a workplace accident – even if wounds seem minor. Head and back injuries can surface hours, even days, post-incident, and many minor injuries worsen when left unaddressed. If an employee is resistant to being medically assessed, insist on their cooperation.

While waiting for medical professionals to arrive, you’re wise to address any injuries requiring immediate attention to the best of your ability. Apply pressure on bleeding wounds, administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if advised by 911 dispatchers and try to keep the injured party as calm as possible throughout the process. Do not attempt to administer any procedures you’re not trained in unless otherwise told by a dispatcher.

After the employee is in proper, professional care, contact the immediate family to inform them of the accident. If the employee is conscious, they may prefer to call and inform their relatives first-hand. As long as they are to communicate calmly and clearly, you should respect their wishes.

2. Document everything 

Without proper documentation, companies run the risk of OSHA investigations and lawsuits. The first form to fill out is an OSHA 300, which requires employers to log incidents within six business days of their occurrences. Managers also must fill out a 301, accurately describing the details of the incident, no later than seven business days after an event. Finally, the last required document is a 300A form, which is an annual summary of all workplace related injuries. These forms must be available for viewing between February 1st and April 30th, so make sure to have everything properly outlined prior in case of a requested review. Even if your company is not reviewed, it’s best to maintain all records for at least five years, and potentially more for pending litigation.

With so many complicated forms to complete, many employers rely on Occupational Injury and Illness software to record, track and produce reports should they be demanded. Not only is it convenient, but OSHA software helps employers avoid costly fines related to incomplete forms, allows more time to strategize, clearly illustrates trends related to office injuries and ensures businesses can effectively manage their reports without fault.

3. Prevention programs

There are countless practices that keep employees safe before they encounter harm at work. First, establish automated alerts that employees can receive via email or smartphone messages. Second, keep up with the latest in facility developments. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, private industry employers reported 229,190 cases of falls, slips and trips in 2013 alone. 327,060 cases reportedly involved sprains,
strains and tears, and 170,450 were related to back injuries. Many slip and fall incidents can be eradicated with proper facility maintenance products. Consider buying commercial-grade floor mats that will sop up rain puddles near doorways and eliminate slick floors due to inclement weather. Although somewhat less common, umbrella stands also capture water droplets from wet umbrellas and help employees evade potentially harmful puddles. Make sure to keep comprehensive emergency kits on hand, with antiseptic wipes, bandages, gauze, aspirin and ointment. Post hazardous warnings and signs in case of spills. Also, clearly indicated restricted areas in the workplace that require key card access by approved and trained employees only.

Unfortunately, workplace injuries impacts go beyond the administrative duties of an organization. In fact, acute injuries and chronic injuries are both common causes of absenteeism in the workplace. Unscheduled absenteeism costs employers roughly $3,600 per year for each hourly worker and $2,650 each year for salaried employees. These costs stem from wages, replacement worker fees and administrative costs of managing absences. These numbers don’t take into account the legal fees associated with workplace injuries, the time to manage them and the diminished bottom-line thereafter – so the effects are greater than the numbers alone.

One of the simplest ways to boost morale and enhance productivity following a workplace injury is by executing educational safety programs. Upon completion, all employees should be required to sign certifications to show they have been properly educated in workplace safety. When developing an education program, make sure to assess the key elements of workplace safety as outlined by OSHA: management leadership, worker participation, hazard identification, hazard prevention and control, education and training, and program evaluation and improvement, for employees, management and executives alike.

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