Handling Injuries on the Job – Next Steps for HR Professionals
Workplace accidents happen, and they often come about when you least expect it. Not only do they cause injury to workers, but they can also increase the costs of organizations in the form of medical expenses, lost productivity, and replacement expenditures. If you’re wondering what you can do at the HR level, we have tips on how to handle workplace injuries.
Reporting and Investigating the Incident
When a workplace accident occurs, timely reporting is critical. Workplace injury reporting procedures should be completed within 24 hours of the injury, to ensure accuracy and best assist the injured worker. If possible, managers should talk to the injured employee about what happened, and write down exactly what they say. These details should be strictly factual, without bias or opinion.
After reporting the incident, injury at work employer responsibilities include:
- Completing an accident investigation
- Interviewing the injured worker, supervisors and any witnesses
- Taking pictures of the work area
- Identifying the cause of the injury
- Recording what medical treatment was given
When you conduct the investigation right away, the accident is still fresh in the employees’ minds. It’s also important to complete as much of the investigation at the site of the injury, to help capture all the details, trigger the memories, and understand how the incident could be avoided in the future.
As you interview the witnesses, make them feel comfortable. Don’t make it seem like an accusation. Ask questions that are solely focused on the facts and events that took place, without any implication of who’s to blame.
Accommodating the Injured Worker
With all of the reporting and investigation going on, it can be easy to forget about the injured worker, especially if they can’t return to work quickly. If forgotten, the injured worker is at risk of becoming disengaged and can show signs of depression.
Since work is where most employees get their social interaction, it makes sense that being away from work for an extended period of time can lead to disengagement, which makes it more difficult to come back to work. That’s why it’s important to accommodate for the injured employee and attempt to keep them on-site.
If possible, bring them into the office and keep them engaged in your workplace environment. When people see or hear about one of their colleagues getting hurt on the job, they can be understandably concerned and anxious. Good communication can help. If there are safety issues, address them with other employees and ask for suggestions about how to make things better.
If you aren’t able to accommodate the documented restrictions or the employee isn’t able to work, then have regular, friendly check-ins with them via call, email, or text. Make sure they’re going okay and make them feel valued. A simple “we miss you” goes a long way. Don’t ask them when they’re coming back; just be caring and friendly.
Preventing Future Workplace Injuries
While workplace illnesses and injuries cannot be anticipated, they can be managed more smoothly when you put policies in place beforehand. Even redundant and excessive tasks can be avoided by work injury procedure improvement. Examples include bending and reaching motions, as these can result in injury related to muscle fatigue.
While you need to adjust your approach based on the situation, having a solid foundation in place can make all the difference in helping a person return to work safely. Proper workplace injury reporting procedures can also help you avoid lawsuits and legal matters.
Asking the following questions can help simplify your work injury procedures:
- How do we make this less likely to happen again?
- Does the process need to change?
- What can we do to stop it?
Use the investigation process to review any procedures in place that may have had an impact on the initial accident and get to the root cause, so you can mitigate for future risk. You can also implement a standard annual or semi-annual review of all your workplace injury reporting procedures and processes to identify any trends or near misses. It’s common not to think of near misses as important, but they can help you identify problems and prevent future incidents.
Streamlining Work Injury Procedures with Paypro
About The Author
Ingrid is the Content Marketing Manager at Paypro, managing both inbound and outbound marketing initiatives for the company. She has 15+ years’ of extensive marketing communications experience, leveraging brand awareness and strategic partnerships to increase sales revenue for a diverse group of B2B brands.