When you get hurt at work, you need to let someone know, even if it doesn’t seem like a big deal at the time. You never know when a twisted ankle can turn into a long-term orthopedic issue, for example, or when a cut becomes infected and you have to have extensive medical care to treat it. Follow your company guidelines for workplace injuries, which often follow existing industry standards.
Businesses have workplace injury guidelines in place for a reason. First of all, they are covering their butts. Injuries that happen on the job cost employers money and set them up for potential lawsuits. Your boss loses valuable time when you’re out because of an injury and the costs of treating an injury later on can be even greater if you don’t get immediate treatment when the accident occurs. An investigation has to take place right away too. The final outcome of an insurance claim may rest on who was at fault. By following your company’s injury reporting guidelines, you protect yourself as well, because you then create a paper trail of the injury.
Report to Point Person
Most companies assign the job of collecting data about workplace injuries to one person or department. It may be the manager in a small company or human resources in a larger business. The designated person has all the tools to handle the situation and is empowered to make decisions about taking you to the hospital, calling an ambulance or allowing you to treat the injury yourself. The manager or risk management specialist in charge can fill out all the appropriate paperwork to document the injury and follow up to make sure you get the right treatment.
File a Claim
Once the crisis has passed and you’ve reported the injury to your boss and received treatment, you then need to file a workers’ compensation report. Even if you don’t plan to be out of work because of the injury, you never know what might happen down the line. Specific laws vary from state to state, but you are protected under federal laws when it comes to workplace injuries. The main thing to remember is to write everything down and get your manager or HR rep to write down everything that’s been reported. File a claim even if your boss tries to talk you out of it.
Whether you were injured because of a mechanical failure, from exposure to workplace hazards or because of someone’s negligence, you need to follow up on your claims and ask to see what your employer is doing about the problem so you and your coworkers won’t get hurt again. You can report your boss to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and keep your name out of the report if you want. You also have the right to find out what happened following your complaint and how the problem was addressed.
- California Department of Industrial Relations: Guide to Developing Your Workplace Injury and Illness Prevention Program
- Lincoln University: Workplace Illness and Injury Reporting
- Lawteryx: 5 Things to Do if You’re Injured on the Job
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Job Safety and Health
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."