The one fear that always lurks at the back of the mind of an employer is an employee getting injured at work. If you are an employer, you will not be stranger to such feelings. An employee getting injured at workplace will throw you into a whirlpool of statues and acts to contend with, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) and the occupational safety and health standards.
To avoid job injury cases and the associated hassles, you must take appropriate steps. Let’s see what they are:
#1 Draft standard operating procedure for medical emergencies and care
Employees falling ill or getting injured is a reality that just cannot be wished away. So, put a medical care plan in place in the form of a standard operating procedure (SOP) that spells out various responsibilities of reporting the accident, transporting the injured, notifying the medical cover provider, etc. The SOP should comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards. Also, let the fire department and other first responders get familiar with your facilities.
#2 Identify the cause of the accident
It is your responsibility to compensate your employee sustaining workplace injury in accordance with state workers’ compensation laws. Of course, your insurance company will need proof whether the injury is genuine before it is compensated for. For this, the best course is to hold an internal investigation, which may involve interviewing witnesses and creating reports. This will not only prove that the accident occurred due to, say, the machine’s fault but will also help in taking necessary countermeasures to prevent such accidents happening in the future.
#3 Notify OSHA
If serious injuries occur, you need to report it to OSHA. If a death has occurred, you must report it within eight hours and for inpatient hospitalizations and amputations, within 24 hours. Failure to do so may attract a fine of at least $750. In any case, the best way out is to inform even less severe cases to OSHA, who may or may not initiate an inspection or levy a fine.
#4 Consider leave possibilities
As an employer, you can take advantage of FMLA’s provision that any time off will run concurrently with employees’ compensation leave. For this, ensure that proper leave is given as per FMLA. This requires close scrutiny of medical certificates from doctors regarding time off and ensuring that it conforms with the information on those certificates. If FMLA doesn’t apply to you, permit sick leave or personal time, in lieu.
#5 Take ADAAA seriously
If your injured employee cannot get any better despite medical treatment, doctors may assign job restrictions. This may mean the employee will not be able to undertake what he or she did in your establishment in full capacity. However, this doesn’t mean that your responsibilities are over. Under the ADAAA, it means that you will need to provide everything required to facilitate him or her in discharging duties, such as a stool to sit on, extra break or a disabled-friendly workstation.
#6 Vet your existing policies in detail
Most of the employees, who are victims of workplace injuries, will return to work, but there are a few who will take advantage of their injuries for financial gains. For them, this becomes possible if your policies are too open-ended, have loopholes that can be exploited or don’t have updated job descriptions, etc. Undertake an exercise to tighten the procedures and plug any gaps that can be exploited, while remaining within the ambit of applicable laws.
#7 Use resources
The moment you get to know of a workplace injury, deploy all your resources in helping the injured, such as company doctors and nurses. Also, obtain as much medical information as you can regarding the injury. Take steps to rectify rules under FMLA, if the leave schedule overshoots the doctor’s directions.
#8 Keep in touch with other workers
An injured colleague at the workplace can have an adverse psychological impact on other employees and may give rise to rumors and gossips against the management. You, as an employer, must keep your lines of communications open. Interact with other employees, ask for their suggestions for increasing safety at work and the like.
Workplace injuries happen and cannot really be anticipated. What an employer can do is to review the company policies and SOPs and keep them updated. Also, keep all the resources needed for medical emergencies in readiness at all times. This can make a difference when such contingencies do arise.