Helping Employees After an Injury
When an employee is injured, seconds matter. Knowing how to use every moment to help can make the difference for an employee who needs fast access to medical care and for a company that might face legal action.
Even though companies prepare work environments with comprehensive safety and wellness plans, accidents happen. Safety experts who make plans for helping employees after the unexpected build goodwill and trust. Actionable plans can also help companies move forward without fear of legal repercussions.
Ken Wells, founder of the safety and occupational consulting firm Lifeline Strategies, said smart companies invest in safety specialists who implement prevention plans and injury management systems.
“Companies that work aggressively to provide the right treatment at the right time have lower injury costs, fewer recordables and workers’ compensation cases, and more engaged, successful employees,” Wells said. “Prevention is critical, but the way a company responds and communicates with an employee after an injury occurs is key to worker engagement and the costs of care.”
Indeed, the best safety specialists make plans for employee injuries by learning communication techniques, workplace first aid, and other skills. Courses in safety management, through online emergency management degree programs, provide safety specialists with the expertise they need for effective planning and decision making.
Taking Action After an Injury
When an employee is injured on the job, the employer’s response is crucial to an ongoing positive relationship with the injured party. Wells, a longtime safety professional, said companies should follow these steps to help employees from the moment the injury occurs:
Assessing and managing injuries
Supervisors should immediately determine if the injured employee needs medical attention. For an emergency, do not hesitate to call 911. For non-emergencies, coordinate transportation with supervisors and managers to bring the injured employee to a medical facility.
“You need to make sure the worker message is, ‘we’re going to take care of you, and you’re going to be okay,'” Wells told EHS Today.
Employees want to know the company will take care of them, not that their injury has caused problems on the job. A study by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety found that proper communication and problem-solving by training supervisors led to a 47 percent decrease in new workers’ compensation claims.
“If the first thing [the injured employee] hears from a supervisor is what he did wrong, how the injury is hurting production, or how it will cost the crew safety bonuses, the company is sending the wrong message,” Wells said.
Assisting injured employees in recovery
Employees need to know their employer backs them up and supports a full recovery. Employers should place the employee in a light-duty job to complete case management.
A study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute of employees three years after a workplace accident found that workers who were afraid for their job security were twice as likely to be unemployed and five times more likely to have lower earnings, Wells said.
“Smart companies invest in prevention through their safety programs, but even many smart companies fall short when it comes to mitigating the harm when an incident occurs,” he said.
In addition, safety supervisors should work with the injured employee to file workers’ compensation claims and follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines.
Additional Steps for Safety and Health Program Management
OSHA suggests employers also use a proactive approach to managing workplace safety and health, rather than a reactive approach that only addresses problems when someone is injured. OSHA found that proactive safety and health programs improve productivity, morale, recruitment, and retention. It also creates a favorable public image for the company.
Companies should follow additional steps to prioritize employee safety before injuries occur:
Demonstrate workplace safety
In addition to including wording in the company mission statement that prioritizes safety, managers should encourage employees to follow safety rules and conduct thorough investigations of any incidents.
Create a written protocol
Develop a safety culture by informing all employees, in writing, about safety and health responsibilities. Follow up with employees to make sure they understand the protocol.
Training should occur when the employee is hired and transferred. It should also happen when new equipment is put into service and when new hazards arise.
OSHA also said that managers at all levels should make safety and health a main organizational goal. For safety managers in particular, understanding and implementing safety and health precautions is essential. A graduate degree in safety, security and emergency management provides the vital skills and education needed to implement plans that will protect employees from harm.
About Eastern Kentucky University’s Online Master of Science in Safety, Security and Emergency Management Program
Students enrolled in EKU’s online emergency management degree program learn the essential components of safety, security and emergency management. The program allows students to customize their experience through a Multidisciplinary Track or concentrations in Corporate Security Operations, Occupational Safety, or Emergency Management and Disaster Resilience. The concentrations are also available as stand-alone graduate certificates, independent of a master’s degree.
EKU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. For more information, contact Eastern Kentucky University now.
5 Steps to Effective Injury Management: ASSP
Safety 2018: What to Do in the First 30 Minutes of a Worker Injury: EHS Today
What to do when your employee is injured at work: Insureon
5 Steps to Developing an Effective Workplace Safety Program: EHSInsight
OSHA Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines: OSHA