How well do you know the facts about workers’ compensation? Regardless of your business, there is always the chance that a worker can get hurt on the job. If they are, you want to be sure that your company is prepared to proceed appropriately.
Workers’ compensation helps employers and employees alike, so all human resource administrators should brush up on state regulations and know how to tackle a workplace incident. Here is a workers’ comp refresher for those new to HR.
What Employers Need to Know
In general, workers’ compensation is a program meant to protect employees and employers alike when a worker is involved in an accident that results in harm or prevents them from working in the future. The first responsibility of the employer is to have workers’ comp insurance, which is required by most states for a majority of companies, with the usual exception of independent contractors. This type of insurance is instrumental in preventing lawsuits in civil court.
To prevent a claim from getting to that point, workers’ compensation insurance provides wage and medical benefits based on the requirements of the state in which they work. The insurance also pays death benefits to the families of employees who die on the job. However, there are circumstances that insurance doesn’t cover including intentionally sustained injuries, injuries while intoxicated, and emotional harm.
If an employee is injured on the job, it is important to remember that they cannot be denied medical care. Also, if there is a legitimate claim, then the employer must bring the employee back once they are ready to return to work. Most importantly, a company should not hold any grudge or retaliate against an employee for filing a claim. It is their right to get the help they need, and failure to comply could result in a lawsuit.
Employee Responsibilities and Claims
When an employee gets hurt on the job, they have a responsibility to report the injury immediately to your HR department. HR will then take a detailed report of the incident, including the date and time, the type of injury, and where it happened. If it is an emergency, the employee should be brought to the hospital. For less threatening injuries, they should consult a doctor. In any case, a medical report is needed.
HR is responsible for providing all necessary forms to the employee, including insurance forms and information about their rights, as well as what happens when they are ready to return to work. A claim is then filed with the insurance carrier, and it is there that the claim is either approved or denied. If it is approved, the employee will get an offer or settlement for their damages. If it is denied, then the employee can appeal.
During this time, the company must keep the job open for the potential return of the worker. If the employee cannot return to work due to disability, then the insurance company may continue paying benefits for an undetermined amount of time. All records of the claim must be filed by the employer and kept for a pre-set amount of time as determined by your state laws, which is usually a number of years.
How to Prevent Workers’ Comp Claims
It is very important for employers to not take a workers’ comp claim personally or hold it against the employee. Not only is it the law to avoid doing so, but the employee isn’t out to get you. Instead, they are only trying to get the monetary amount that will allow them to take care of themselves and their family. The best defense against workers’ comp claims is to have a proactive approach and a safe work environment.
Create a culture of safety at your workplace where everyone watches out for one another, and any hazards are immediately reported. Hold safety meetings on a regular basis where you reward employees for meeting safety goals. Create posters and signage to remind employees of general hazards and make sure all hazardous materials are properly attended to and labeled.
Even if you have all of these processes in place, it is possible that an employee could still get hurt by doing repetitive processes without proper safety precautions. Not lifting heavy items properly, using a computer for long periods of time without proper support, and standing in one place for too long can all result in common injuries ranging from carpal tunnel syndrome to bursitis, which affects the joints.
Keep in mind that not all states cover repetitive motion injuries, so be aware of your state laws when filing. Regardless of the state law, as HR administrators, ensure that all employees are taking their regularly scheduled breaks, sitting in proper chairs that encourage good posture, and are using an ergonomic mouse that reduces the risk of carpal tunnel.
When it comes to the well-being of your employees, extensive knowledge of state laws and policies is a must. Be informed about workers’ compensation, so your employees can get the care they deserve.