No matter what type of business you run, there is always the possibility that something could go wrong. As a small business owner you try your best to make sure that you’re providing your staff with a safe and decent environment to work in on the daily basis. However, try as you may, there is always the potential for risks such as workplace injuries. Whether an employee is working with industrial equipment or lifting filing boxes, there is always the possibility that someone could get hurt.
Aside from ensuring that your company is in compliance with worker’s compensation laws, it is also important that you follow through on any accidents that happen in the workplace accordingly.
1. Get Medical Help for the Employee – the very moment that you learn of an accident in the workplace it is very important that you seek immediate medical assistance for your employee. This is by far one of the most important steps to making sure that your employee is safe. It is also an important part of protecting your company. If the injuries are severe, the best course of action would be to contact emergency services for an ambulance. If there are no visible injuries or the employee does not appear to be in any immediate pain, you should still get them medical help. You can do this by allowing the employee to leave work and see a qualified professional or by driving them to a doctor’s office yourself.
2. Address Employee Rights and Employer Obligations – It is important to properly acknowledge the rights of the employee and also carry out your obligations as an employee. When an employee is injured, they are entitled to file a claim to receive worker’s compensation. As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure that the claim forms are properly completed and distributed to the insurance provider. Also, employers are legally required to provide employees with a copy of the claim.
3. Gather the Facts – According to the US Small Business Administration, you are required to create an accident report to have on file for yourself, the employee, and the insurance company. In order to provide the most accurate report possible, it will be important for you to gather the facts. This is when you would talk with any witnessing employees, take pictures of the accident site, check video surveillance for any possible footage and collect whatever other information is pertinent to the accident.
4. Complete Your Accident Report – Now that you’ve gathered all the information as it pertains to the accident, you’ll need to draft an accident report. You will need to accurately document the information you found including any information provided to you by other employees. This is also where you would give your account of things. The report may also be necessary to include with the workers compensation claim. Therefore you want to be as honest and accurate as possible to ensure that your company is protected and that your employee receives the compensation they deserve.
Legal Tip: Your accident report will be beneficial in instances where you believe the employee is at fault for their accident. The Law Offices of Michael Pines, APC in San Diego gives suggestions on how employees can prevent workplace injuries. If you believe your employee did not take necessary precautions, your report should reflect that as well.
5. Follow Up on the Claim and Employee – After the claim has been filed there is generally a processing period of up to 90 days. During this time the insurance company is assessing the information received to make a determination on whether or not the claim is valid. During this time, it will be important for you to stay on top of things to make sure that the process runs smoothly and the issue does not fall back on your company. You’ll want to make sure that you’ve submitted any information provided by the doctor such as notices in regards to work restrictions, or recommended time off for healing. Since the medical provider likely won’t provide you with this information, you’ll need to stay in contact with the employee to ensure the process runs as smoothly and as quickly as possible.
One would hope that an employee is never injured on the job, but it is always a possibility. By taking the necessary steps immediately following a workplace accident, you can prevent your company from being the blame. Workers compensation insurance and laws are set in place not only to protect employees, but also to protect employers from significant financial setbacks. If your organization is not currently insured or in compliance with these laws, it may be beneficial to consider these options now, before it’s too late.