Too many people are hurt on the job. Fortunately, most injuries are cuts and abrasions, but far too many injuries can be life-changing. There can be high and continuing medical charges, therapy regimens, lost wages, and/or the inability to do productive work again.
The Federal government stepped in to create OSHA to compel businesses to improve safety practices, and state governments have stepped up with their own rule and regulations. However, even conscientious workers do get injured at the most safety-conscious employers.
So, if you have sustained an injury at work, you should know what to do.
7 Steps You Should Not Forget to Take as Soon as Possible
- Take care of yourself. If you are able, you must find a safe place award from the safety hazard. If it is a minor injury, you should follow the company’s safety rules and walk the injury to your supervisor. If the injury is more serious, you should cooperate with those treating you are best you can.
- Think of others. If you are able, you should remove the hazard so others do not fall victim. For example, if the injury involves malfunctioning machines, you should do what you can turn off the machine. If you are able, you should make sure others have marked off the hazardous area to prevent additional injuries.
- Seek immediate care. If you have been disabled or knocked out by the injury, you must depend on the support response of co-workers and supervisors. But, you should seek emergency medical treatment for any other injury. It may only require a band-aid, but the band-aid or minor first aid must be secured following a report to your supervisor.
Any injury with burns, profuse bleeding, possible bone fractures, unconsciousness, or other serious symptom requires emergency care from 9-1-1. Injuries that might fall in between, like a slip and fall, strained back or muscles, or anything beyond first aid treatment.
- Complete the paperwork. A business must comply with strict mandates on handling, treating, and reporting injuries. The company must train all employees and managers in workplace injury prevention and response. And, that includes several forms.
Your supervisor must provide the workers’ compensation forms and monitor your completion of the forms. There are forms for you to complete, for the witnesses, and the supervisor to complete and process. You must keep your forms and follow the company’s direction to its designated workplace injury doctor. Reporting to the “company doctor” will not preclude your seeking treatment from a doctor of your own choice.
- Call a lawyer. If the injury is more than minor in terms of immediate and potential effects, you should confer with a lawyer like Abels & Annes, P.C. If you were injured by the direct negligence of the employer or others, you may need professional representation to sort out the process and navigate the system of negotiations. If the employer or the insurer interfered with the proper process or if the proposed care and compensation does not fit the circumstances, you may need help.
- Keep a journal. It is in your interest to keep a record of the hours and days you miss from work. You should add all the miles traveled, parking fees, cab fares, and other out-of-pocket expenses related to the injury. And, you should include any receipts or records from doctor’s visits, rehab treatments, or over-the-counter medicines or medical equipment.
- Cooperate with Workers’ Comp: You are expected to follow the doctor’s instructions to speed your full recovery. You must undergo an independent medical exam if required, attend such meetings and hearings in the workers’ comp case, and do what you can to get back to work as soon as possible.
What to do if you sustained a workplace injury
According to Chicago Business, “Private-sector employers in the state reported about 108,200 nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses last year, 35 percent of which involved employees taking time off work, the data shows.” And, if such injury befalls you, you should cooperate with the protocols and training, and you should carry a lawyer’s contact info in your wallet.