Business owners should not approach workers’ compensation solely as a mandatory requirement or a compliance issue that they should adopt and be done with. As a legal insurance requirement to reduce the overall liability of an enterprise, workers’ compensation should be handled according to best practices that start at the moment of injury or sickness.
Following are six practices recommended by legal professionals dedicated to handling workplace injuries and their legal ramifications.
Speed Is of the Essence
Prompt attention to an injury or to the report of a work-related illness should be addressed as soon as possible. To this effect, the first 24 hours are decisive; recovery should be prioritized with a focus on providing the right amount of care and easing the return of the employee to work. Whenever possible, injured employees should be interviewed by a health practitioner instead of by an insurance adjuster; this will reduce the incidence of fraudulent claims.
Providing Physical and Emotional Support to Workers
Employee morale should not be forgotten when handling workplace injuries and illnesses. The worst way to manage one of these situations is to leave the injured or sick employee to his or her own devices without proper company representation.
Small business owners should make every effort to be with injured employees; in fact, they should ask paramedics if they could ride in the ambulance on the way to the emergency room. A manager, supervisor or even co-worker should be at the victim’s side as long as possible; when injured workers are by themselves, they tend to think about contacting an attorney and possibly filing a lawsuit.
Employers tend to associate workers’ compensation solely with accidents and not with illnesses. Safety programs should not focus exclusively on preventing accidents; they should also include a wellness component that addresses issues such as obesity.
According to figures published by the National Council on Compensation Insurance, claims filed by obese workers who become sick on the job tend to cost five times as much compared to those that are filed by employees who are at their adequate weight.
Retaining Legal Counsel
Law firms that specialize in workers’ compensation matters such as Ahlander Injury Law will help workers get their just dues, but companies can also retain law firms that will protect their interests and help them reduce their liability when workplace accidents take place. Employers who have seasoned legal specialists handling their workers’ compensation claims can achieve peace of mind when employees are injured, or they contemplate filing lawsuits.
Keeping an Eye on Medications
Prescription drug abuse is a sad American reality of the 21st century, and it has spread to some extent to the workers’ compensation realm. Approximately 80 percent of the global supply of hydrocodone, the main active ingredient in habit-forming medications such as Vicodin, is consumed by American patients. Almost 20 percent of the costs associated with workers’ compensation claims are related to prescription drugs, and more than a third of these medications are narcotics.
The problem with many painkillers prescribed in the United States is that they are expensive and have a high potential for addiction. Employers should speak frankly with workers who have been prescribed narcotics about how they are handling these medications in relation to their injuries.
Creating a Culture of Accountability
Employees should not feel like they must earn their paychecks in a haphazard place. Safety should be a responsibility shared by managers, supervisors, and technicians. By holding key employees accountable for certain safety factors, risks can be effectively reduced, and the likelihood of claims will be accordingly diminished.
In the end, companies that adhere to the good practices listed herein will not only reduce the probability of claims being filed but will also improve the overall safety of their workplaces.