On average, more than 99 people suffer a workplace injury each day. But the good news is that American workplaces are getting safer in recent years, with annual workplace deaths falling from 14,000 to 5,000 in the last 40 years.
However, injuries are still a common occurrence and one that employers need to be prepared for. Most importantly, employers need to have a list of best practices that they follow in the event of a workplace injury, particularly in those moments right after an accident occurs.
At national employee-solutions firm Employco USA, clients and their employees have access to a telephonic triage system where an injured party can call and speak to a nurse right away. The nurse can help them figure out what to do next, such as whether the need to go to an emergency room or urgent care and in the meantime the company’s H.R. outsourcing team at Employco will receive news of this accident within minutes.
“There is nothing worse than a late-reported claim,” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA. “You want to know the who, what, when, where of the incident, but you also want to know how to most quickly provide care and treatment for the injured employee.”
Wilson says time is of the essence when it comes to collecting recorded statements.
“The quicker you interview your employees and eyewitnesses, the fresher their memory will be,” says Wilson. “Let them know that no one is trying to place blame, but that you rather want to collect information so that you can find out what happened and therefore prevent such a tragedy in the future.”
The H.R. expert says that it is a good idea to take pictures of the scene, and to include rulers in the images to help keep things to scale.
“You should also hang on to any surveillance videos or monitoring footage you might have of the incident,” says Wilson. “This can be invaluable later on when trying to demonstrate who is at fault.”
Or, if the workplace injury occurred at a convention center or other public place, ask for those videos or reports from their on-site medical team, says Wilson.
“Make sure you record all statements that you get from witnesses, supervisors, as well as from the injured employee when they are able to be interviewed,” says the H.R. expert.
As you work with your insurance company or your H.R. outsourcing company, you want to make sure you have open communication with your employee.
“Be in contact with that employee, especially if they are off work,” says Wilson. “Stay involved. Let them know that you are concerned with their well-being and you want them to come back to work. They need to know that you are taking their claim seriously.”
If fraud is an issue, Wilson says that you need to trust your gut.
“If something doesn’t feel right, listen to that feeling,” says the President of Employco USA. “For example, Monday mornings are the most common time for employees to make fraudulent claims. They hurt their back on a Sunday moving something at home, then come in on Monday morning and make a fraudulent claim in order to get paid for lost wages they will suffer due to their injury.”
Someone who may be faking a workplace injury should be investigated thoroughly. Tell your insurance company or H.R. outsourcing company right away if you suspect fraud.
“At Employco, we have our own surveillance team. We don’t wait for an insurance company to come through and set up their own surveillance team. We move much quicker than that, and we have had great results by doing so,” says Wilson. “We had an employee who said he couldn’t do any manual labor or go back to work, but we had him on video working at a cemetery digging graves!”
Employers need to take workplace accidents seriously because an injured-at-work claim will impact the employer for the next 3 years, says Wilson.
“Send the message that you don’t tolerate fraud,” says Wilson. “At Employco, our investigations have led to several employees being charged with workplace comp fraud. That is why it’s important to have a team of experts who can help you to ensure that your company isn’t harmed by someone seeking a quick payout.”