7 Things to Do When You’ve Suffered a Workplace Injury
Nobody likes to see a workplace injury, but the reality is, no matter how much you try to prevent them from happening, they’re going to happen eventually. There are nearly 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses every year, and whether you’re stricken with one of those injuries yourself, or whether you witness one on your shift, you need to know how to handle things if and when they unfold in your vicinity.
What to Do After an Injury
These are the most critical steps to take immediately after someone suffers an injury in the workplace:
- Get to safety: First, make sure you or the injured person get to safety as soon as possible. If an injured person is immobilized in a high-traffic area, they could be susceptible to further injuries. It’s also essential that you get them to a quiet area, so you can talk to them about their damage and decide what to do next.
- Prevent further injuries: If there’s a chance that someone else could get injured from the same circumstances (such as a piece of malfunctioning machinery), take measures to prevent those injuries. That may mean turning the machine off, cleaning the area, or even sending some people home for the day. Delegate this task if you need to.
- Seek emergency treatment (if necessary): At this point, you’ll need to decide whether the injured person requires emergency treatment. If so, that should be your first priority; if there’s a life-threatening injury, a vehicle should arrive within 8 minutes. If not, you may be able to apply first aid yourself, and move through the next steps of the process.
- File a report: No matter how the injury occurred, it’s vital that you file a report with your supervisor. This initial report documentation will serve as a foundation for your workers’ compensation claim (assuming there is one) and may be used in legal matters in the future. Get something on paper, and interview anyone who witnessed the accident.
- Contact an attorney: At this point, you may consider contacting an attorney. While it is possible to file a personal injury claim even after filing for workers’ compensation benefits, the circumstances that allow for this are complicated and uncommon. If the injury was a direct result of someone else’s actions or negligence, legal action might be the best course forward—but only an attorney can say for sure.
- File for workers compensation: If no legal action is being pursued, you’ll definitely want to file for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits mandatorily cover any personal injury sustained in the workplace, regardless of how it happened or who’s responsible for it. It should cover the majority of the costs associated with treatment.
- Seek medical treatment: Again, if this is an emergency, you should have called an ambulance long before taking some of these steps. If this is a non-emergency, now’s the time to consider a trip to your regular physician, or potentially urgent care.
Preventing Further Injuries
If you’re a supervisor or have the power to influence further workplace changes to prevent injuries in the future, use this opportunity to do the following:
- Repair and/or replace equipment: Old, broken, or improperly used equipment are all common causes of workplace injuries. If one of those pieces of equipment was responsible for this injury, this should be your wakeup call to repair it or replace it so you can prevent further damages in the future.
- Review processes and procedures: Were there any procedural errors that led to this injury? Take a moment to review the documentation for standard procedures and see if they were followed. If they were, it means the procedure needs an update. If they weren’t, it means your employees may require further training (or disciplinary action for not following procedures).
- Provide documentation and warnings: What kind of documentation and warnings are publicly available to your employees? Are there explicit written directions on how to use equipment properly, or warnings of what could happen if misused? It doesn’t take much time or money to post safety warnings.
- Double down on employee training: Even if you think your employees understand all the best practices and safety standards required to work safely in this environment, it’s a good idea to double down on their training. Host a workshop or day-long seminar that reminds them of your most important restrictions, standards, and procedures.
Even though prevention can’t possibly eliminate all workplace injuries, it’s sufficient enough that it should be a staple element of your training and ongoing operations. With leadership and a workforce that is more committed to stopping or mitigating injuries, everyone can work more productively—and most importantly, safer.