Injuries in the workplace jeopardize employee safety, impede productivity and can cause an employee to take legal action against their employer. Even with appropriate precautions in place (e.g., workplace policies, signage, suitable workplace equipment, etc.) workplace injuries can still occur.
In a previous post, Managing Health and Safety Risk in the Workplace, we explored how employers can be proactive in identifying hazards in the workplace and work to avoid injuries. This post will build on that topic by discussing how employers can appropriately respond to a workplace injury, should one occur.
Responding to Injuries in the Workplace
- Put the care of the employee first: Employee health and well-being should always be a top priority for employers, especially in the event of an injury. If an emergency occurs, 911 should be called, and with non-emergency situations the injured employee may still need to be taken to a hospital to properly assess the extent of the damage.
- Secure the area: When a serious injury takes place, securing the scene needs to be an immediate response. This helps prevent further injuries from occurring in the same location.
Furthermore, securing the scene allows for a proper investigation, as the scene will not be disturbed. This enables the employer to determine what went wrong to cause the incident. Once the root cause of the incident is determined, appropriate corrective measures can be taken to help avert future injuries in the workplace.
- Complete and submit the appropriate documentation: Employers should always complete an incident report, clearly stating what happened in the incident and what injuries were sustained by the employee.
Documentation helps employers look back on a situation with accuracy and create a plan to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future.
Employers may need to report injuries and incidents to their worker’s compensation board, their provincial safety authority and/or other agencies. Employers should ensure they understand these requirements before an incident occurs.
- Develop a process for the employee to return to work: Having a plan in place for any employee returning to work after an injury and sharing the plan with their employees can help decrease stress levels for everyone involved when dealing with a workplace injury.
Minor injuries, such as sprains, could cause an employee to be off work for weeks. More serious injuries (broken bones, head trauma, deep cuts, etc.) could cause an employee to be off work for months.
When the employee returns to work, they may have difficulty immediately returning to their pre-injury role – especially if they took a longer time period to recover. In these scenarios, a return-to-work program can be effective in helping an employee get back to a place of high productivity.
Throughout the return-to-work process, employers must remember their duty to accommodate, which means making every effort–until undue hardship–to accommodate the employee’s physical needs. The employer may have to alter job responsibilities or have the employee work in a transitional position, before returning them to their original position.
Need help responding to a workplace injury in your organization?
Injuries in the workplace can be challenging to handle. At Peninsula, our expert team of advisors will walk you through the steps of responding to a workplace incident and help you put the appropriate policies and safety programs in place to avoid such incidents in the future.
Let us support you in growing your business, by calling: 1 (833) 247-3652.