Employers and other interested stakeholders need to have an effective injury response. When the response to an injury is not best in class, not only does the employee suffer, but so does one’s workers’ compensation program. The impact can hurt workplace morale, reduce productivity, and hurt the bottom line. Now is the time to avoid the pitfalls of a poor response to workplace injuries, and reduces workers’ compensation costs.
Having a Best in Class Injury Response
Every injury response in the work setting should keep the employee in mind. They should be treated with respect and dignity. Important issues to consider include:
- Ensure the injured employee receives immediate medical care and treatment. This is best done through the use of a third-party injury triage service. It should also include having easy access for a First Aid kit, and assisting the employee in obtaining additional medical care, if needed;
- Provide the injured employee with the necessary paperwork. This includes a completed copy of the First Report of Injury, contact information for the workers’ compensation insurance carrier, and basic information on the workers’ compensation process. Remember that an injured worker’s first experience with the system is generally after an injury; and
- Extend empathy and compassion – have a willingness to go the extra mile. Working injuries cause an immense amount of stress. The system is confusing, and injured employees receive “reduced wages,” but do not have diminished personal living expenses. Taking a moment to call someone, or send a “get well soon” card buys goodwill – it is priceless.
The employee is the “VIP” of the workers’ compensation system. Make every effort to ensure they feel that way.
Negative Impact of a Poor Injury Response
A multitude of things will go wrong if an employer does not have an effective injury response.
- Injured employee fails to receive timely medical care and treatment, which creates a culture of mistrust and animosity. Following a work injury, an employee has a real or perceive notion of “fairness.” If an employer is not dedicated to a culture of safety, or fails to provide adequate resources, employees will have a well-founded fear of injury and its “consequences.”
- Delayed injury response fails to accurately document the work injury and hinders and effective claim investigation. The clock is ticking following an injury. Employers are on the front lines to preserve evidence, document what took place, and making sure all documents are properly prepared and filed. Not taking these important steps can diminish the ability of the claim management team to properly handle a claim, and reach a fair and equitable result.
- Injured employee can have a prolonged disability and extended medical care. Misdirected care can result in an injured employee not receiving proper medical care. Simple steps such as using a telephonic nurse case manager can assist the employee in receiving suitable medical in a timely manner. Nurse case managers can also coordinate medical care between multiple medical providers, and ensure the injured employee is making the best decisions.
Workers’ compensation insurance carriers need to be proactive on this issue with their insureds. A proactive claim team must engage their clients on injury response issues and educate them on the importance of providing immediate medical care to an injured employee, documenting a work injury that includes getting the name of witnesses and preserving evidence, and taking steps to avoid prolonged disability.
Steps to Take NOW to Improve Your Injury Response
The ultimate goal in responding to every workplace injury is two-fold:
- It must ensure the injured employee receives immediate medical care and treatment (leverage injury triage); and
- A proper and diligent investigation can take place so the claim handler can make the best decisions regarding compensability, and direction of the claim.
Proactive injury response also needs to look into the future. This must include developing a robust return-to-work program that includes creativity and is employee-centered. It also starts by engaging the injured employee and making a commitment. This can be accomplished by having a person within the employer to serve as a point of contact.
One of the most significant challenges employers and interested stakeholders face in any workers’ compensation program is an effective injury response. Making sure all injuries are responded to properly starts with planning before an injury occurs. IT also requires education by the claim management team and constructive implementation by the claim management team.
Author Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%. He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center , which offers the Certified Master of Workers’ Compensation national designation.
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