The Essential Steps for Employee Injury Care
Whether you work for an enterprise company or a mom-and-pop shop, at a construction site or in an office, there’s one thing all businesses need to prepare for: a work-related injury or illness.
Employees are only human, so they’re at risk of getting in an accident or getting sick at any time. There were 2.9 million nonfatal work injuries reported in 2016, with nearly 30% of those requiring days away from work. When, not if, one of your employees joins that statistic, are you prepared to get them the treatment they need?
Ensuring that you have the proper coverage and providers lined up before an accident occurs is crucial to making the injury care process run smoothly and returning your injured employee back to work quickly. This means complying with your state’s workers’ compensation laws and having a plan in place with an injury care provider. Not being prepared could cost you, at minimum, thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost productivity.
Knowing what to do and where to go after a work-related injury can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, all you need to do is follow these five simple steps.
1. Have a plan.
After an injury takes place, it’s easier to act if you already have a plan in place. Immediately following an injury, managers, supervisors, and employees should all know where to go, who to contact, and what to do.
This means you don’t just have a plan on a shelf – you’re regularly communicating to your workforce about your injury care process and safety procedures. Maybe you’re even going the extra mile with practice runs, just like you practice fire drills and other emergency procedures. Your accident reporting process should also be posted in prominent areas around the workplace.
An accident reporting process can be as simple as:
- Inform your supervisor of the accident (or have a witness do this)
- Get medical care (emergency room if extreme; otherwise, go to provider that employer requires or employee’s choice, depending on state laws)
- Assist supervisor with details for incident report (supervisor’s job to complete report)
- Complete necessary treatment plan and return to work
The more you’ve planned and practiced, the faster you can begin the injury care process and get your injured worker the treatment they need.
2. Get medical care.
The absolute first thing you need to do after an injury is seek medical care for the injured worker. If it’s life-threatening or after-hours, you should bring them to the emergency room or call an ambulance. Otherwise, you need to send the employee (with an authorization form) to the agreed upon health care provider, preferably one focused in occupational medicine.
The sooner an employee sees a physician, the sooner they can start treatment and begin the recovery process. Research shows that when patients start treatment within 24 hours of an injury occurring, they are more likely to be out of work only a week or less, are more satisfied with their medical care, and are less likely to seek legal action.
3. Inform key stakeholders.
Unfortunately, if an injury occurs in the workplace, it’s likely going to involve workers’ compensation. This can be a complex process, so it’s important to get all the key stakeholders on board as soon as possible. These stakeholders typically include the employer, injured worker, workers’ compensation insurance payor or third-party administrator, and the health care provider.
An incident report needs to be filed with the insurance carrier within 24 hours of the incident. There may be additional requirements under OSHA, but your provider should be able to assist with those details. When the injured employee is being sent for treatment, you need to include an authorization form with all information you know about the accident.
4. Maintain communication.
Whether the injury care process lasts one week or six weeks, it’s going to require regular communication between the key stakeholders. Everyone needs to be on the same page: knowing the treatment plan, the claim status, the state of the injured employee, and what the return-to-work process will look like.
Communication is especially important for the injured worker. Getting injured on the job can be stressful, and there’s often a lot of fear, confusion, and anxiety about what is going to happen to them. Let your employee know that they have your support. Make it clear that you won’t hold the injury over their head, and you’ll help them transition back to work when the time comes.
5. Transition them back to work.
The return-to-work process is going to look different for every injury, but the employer’s support is what makes all the difference. Work with your insurance and health care providers on a safe transition plan for the injured worker. There may be some form of accommodation needed, whether that’s time off work, a reduced workload, or modified job responsibilities.
Continue to communicate with your key stakeholders throughout the transition. The employee may have follow-up visits or physical therapy sessions as they continue recovering, and the claims process may still be ongoing. Maintaining status updates will only help in closing the case.
While we hope you never suffer an injury at your workplace, we also know that accidents happen. Being prepared with these steps will hopefully make the process seem a little less daunting. So before you’re faced with an injury: develop an injury care plan, partner with an effective health care provider, and start communicating with your employees.
To make things even easier, you don’t have to do it all alone. When you partner with Concentra, you get our 35+ years of experience in treating work-related injuries. Our physicians are trained in occupational medicine and know the most effective ways to help injured employees recover. We also understand the workers’ compensation laws for your state, and can help you manage the process. Talk to one of our work health experts to get your injury care program started.