The new year presents an opportunity to improve the way employers and interested stakeholders report workers’ compensation injuries. Injury reporting is essential to the process as studies indicate those incidents reported within the first 24 hours involve less litigation and a quicker return to work. Now is the time to take steps to ensure the timeliness of the injury report and the accuracy of what is being reported.
Education is Key: Back to the Basics
Surveys indicate the most significant barrier to reporting workers’ compensation injuries is the employer’s inability and employee to remember the proper steps. This is likely because the basics of workers’ compensation claims and how to report an injury are often only covered during the employee onboarding process. There is then no reinforcement of the procedure afterward. The results are a delay in reporting a work injury and a lack of accurate information being reported. In many instances, the First Report of Injury, or other documentation is not sent to the correct party, which is usually the insurance carrier.
Easy to implement steps can be taken to improve the timeliness of injury reports and the accuracy of injury information. It is also critical to persevere evidence via photography and other means such as preserving closed-circuit security video.
- Including information on reporting a work injury in all training sessions and team meetings. This is something that should be used and continuously reinforced. Other ideas can include adding workers’ compensation reporting information to company newsletters that are distributed regularly.
- Correctly post all workers’ compensation information in a conspicuous location. “Required” state and federal workplace postings are commonly ignored and not frequently updated. In other instances, they are available in an office setting and not in satellite offices or other remote locations. Postings should be updated and confirmed for accuracy several times a year. Information can also be posted on a company Intranet site.
- Ensure management is committed to proper injury reporting. Questions regarding primarily liability and payment of benefits are decisions made by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Reporting an injury should never be optional – it is often compulsory by law. Additional information can always be transmitted to the workers’ compensation insurance carrier if doubts exist regarding the claim’s legitimacy.
These considerations can go a long way in assisting with the correct injury report.
Taken the Next Right Steps
Several steps need to be taken immediately following a work injury. These steps will ensure the claim management team members can process and handle the claim ethically and honestly. It is also necessary these steps are taken to make sure the employee is treated with empathy and compassion.
- Provide prompt and adequate medical care: A supervisor or manager should always be in a position to assist an employee following a work injury. This can include access to medical care onsite. If necessary, the employee should be taken to a healthcare facility for additional care if needed, or an ambulance should be called. Telephone nurse case management can play an essential role in ensuring an employee’s post-injury medical care is appropriately directed. This will avoid a delay in care, or duplication of medical services.
- Injury mitigation and remediation: It is also vital to ensure a similar injury does not occur again. This is especially when a slippery or wet surface is the cause of the work injury. While photographic documentation is often necessary, cleaning up a job site is essential to avoid other costly events and reduce workplace injuries.
- Following up with the injured employee: It is also important to follow-up with an injured employee. Something as simple as a “get better soon” card can go a long way. Sincere empathy is critical!
Employees take note as to how an employer responds to a work injury. When employees are seen as a VIP, workplace morale increases. This is a key driver in return to work.
The best time to review injury reporting processes is now. Include all employees in the process, and ensure their concerns are being heard. Use the new year as an opportunity to renew all interested stakeholders to reporting work injuries promptly. This will reduce workers’ compensation programs costs, and minimize additional litigation expenses.
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 the founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center, which offers the Certified Master of Workers’ Compensation national designation.
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