Don’t hit the panic button when a worker injures themselves in the workplace. You do, however, need to take action and take action fast!
The best approach you can take is one which includes empathy, observing your legal responsibility, communication with your workers compensation scheme and a genuine approach to getting the worker back to the workplace.
Immediately after an injury
Your first responsibility as an employer is to help your employee if they are hurt. This means providing them with any necessary first aid or transporting them to medical treatment.
Following this, you should quickly work out what caused the injury and remove the risk if it looks like something which may impact other employees.
You may want to discuss the incident with other workers who witnessed it to work out what happened.
You should notify your scheme agent within the first 48 hours of the injury. You most likely have obligations to complete your workplace register of injuries as soon as you can. When you contact your scheme agent you will most likely have to provide basic details on the injury and the injured worker.
Assist the Injured Worker in Lodging a Claim
You must provide an injured worker with a claim form and explain they can make a claim to have their expenses and any lost time covered by a workers compensation scheme.
After you have received the claim form, lodge it, along with any medical certificates with your insurer. In most states, you must lodge this form within 3-5 days of receiving it.
Document the Injury
Try and get information as soon as possible about the time/date of the injury, exact location, how the injury occurred, witnesses and document what medical treatment/first aid has been provided.
Put the Worker on an Injury Management Plan
In most states you are required to develop an injury management plan with the injured worker and your Scheme Agent. The injury management plan will include information about medical treatments and suggest any arrangements which may lead to a return-to-work outcome. In most states, you have a legislative requirement to develop an injury management plan.
Develop a Return to Work Plan
You need to develop a return to work plan for the injured worker. You have an obligation to provide suitable alternative duties to an injured worker to assist them in returning to work. You have a legal obligation to develop the return to work plan in consultation with the injured worker and their medical or health service provider (e.g. doctor).
What are “Suitable duties”?
Suitable duties/alternate duties, are really just duties that a worker performs instead of their normal role while they recovering from their workplace injury. Some options include:
• aspects of the same job the worker was doing before they were injured
• the same job, but part-time
• different duties or duties at a different location
• some or all the above.
Identifying Suitable Duties
• list the previous duties in the worker’s job
• list any medical restrictions
• talk to the worker and their treating doctor about any restrictions and capabilities
• consider the impact on other workers and the workplace more generally if the person is placed on restricted duties and hours
• discuss these matters with the worker’s supervisor
• meet with the worker early on to discuss their progress
• discuss these matters with the treating doctor to revise the plan if the worker’s health and capacity improves.
At the end of the day, your most important duty is to get your injured work the medical attention he or she needs as quickly as possible. Get that right and your 80% of the way there!