Every once in a while we come across a company that has never had a workers comp claim. Through a combination of good training and good luck, they have never had to respond to a workplace injury. They never sent an injured worker to the ER. They never designed an appropriate modified duty job for a recovering worker. And they never had to determine the root cause of a serious accident.
This admirable clean slate can be a problem. Employees and supervisors may tune out the occasional safety training, the same way we all ignore a stewardess explaining how to fasten a seatbelt. So when there’s an injured worker on the ground in a lot of pain, what exactly are you supposed to do? Who is responsible for securing medical treatment and where should they send the employee? How should you document the incident? How do you make sure the workplace is safe enough to resume the work? If you’ve never experienced an injury, you may have no idea what to do when an injury occurs.
Every employer needs to periodically reaffirm the commitment to safety. Each employee needs understand his/her responsibilities: to work safely, to report hazards and to report any injuries ASAP. Supervisors need to know how to respond to an injured worker. NOTE: the immediate moment after an injury is not the time to criticize the worker for making a mistake! Finally, the entire organization needs to mobilize around the injured worker, speeding recovery through temporary modified duty and addressing any lingering safety issues.
Let’s be clear: an injury-free workplace is a good thing. Never having an injury reflects well on the skills of workers, the vigilance of supervisors and the focus of senior management. But the past is no sure-fire predictor of the future: just ask any underwriter! An unblemished safety record is not an opportunity to rest on your laurels. There is risk every day in literally every workplace. Be vigilant and be prepared!
Senior Workers Compensation Consultant