When people think of workers’ compensation, often they imagine people working in warehouses where they haul heavy boxes.
But injuries can happen in any workplace whether it’s a slip-and-fall accident on a wet floor or carpal tunnel syndrome from spending years at a computer.
Long before a claim is filed, it’s important that a business’s HR department have procedures in place for handling an on-the-job injury. Here are a few tips for your small business as you formulate a workers’ compensation plan.
The employee’s health is a top priority. As soon as the injury happens, take quick action to help the worker get care. This may mean calling 911 or arranging for someone to take the hurt person to a doctor or hospital. For minor injuries, you should keep a first aid kit on hand. You could also consider encouraging employees to take CPR training to prepare themselves to possibly save a life someday.
“When it comes to workers’ compensation claims, a history of prevention and compassion will make a big difference,” says Robert Hamparyan, a personal injury lawyer in San Diego. “It also shows other employees that you care about their well-being, which could keep turnover at a minimum.”
As soon as an incident has occurred, an HR team member should get in touch with its workers’ compensation insurer. Some employers do this through the use of an incident reporting form, which allows the employee to document the times and details of the accident while the memories are still fresh.
A formal document lets businesses have a copy of this report and help with the filing process, rather than waiting for an attorney or workers’ compensation claims administrator to call.
Unfortunately, there are employees who find ways to work the system. They may even file multiple workers’ compensation claims over the course of a career, with each employer not aware of the previous incidents.
There are various ways an employee can scam employers with workers’ compensation, including saying an injury happened while working when in actuality it happened outside of work. They may also exaggerate an injury or fake it all together in order to get money and time off.
“Workers’ compensation fraud costs businesses $7.2 million a year, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau,” says The May Firm’s Robert May. “It can be difficult to spot. It’s important to hire carefully, screening each employee before bringing them onto your team. That’s the best way to identify someone who may have fraud in his or her past, especially if you conduct a criminal background check.”
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Check Reinstatement Requirements
If the employee uses the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to take extended leave during recovery, your business will be required to hold that person’s job or one that is identical in pay and responsibilities. However, once FMLA runs out, state laws govern whether you’re required to reinstate that employee.
The safest course of action will be to hold the employee’s position, having duties handled by other employees or contract workers during the absence. If your business is unable to do that, check local laws and, if possible, consult an attorney to determine how you can protect your business while replacing that position.
Welcome Employee Back
When an employee returns from an injury, it’s important to issue a warm welcome and let that person return to normal duties. Do not penalize the employee in any way for a worker’s compensation claim or terminate that employee as retribution. Doing so could lead to legal issues.
If that employee works for other supervisors or serves as part of a team, meet with all of those parties before the person returns and stress the importance of welcoming that employee back and providing support as things return to normal.
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When an employee is injured while working, it’s important that your business takes quick action to avoid escalation. By creating a safe workplace and keeping filing information on hand, your business will be able to help employees in the event that an occupational injury happens. These tips can help you protect your business and keep morale high even if that employee has to be off of work for months while recovering.