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What Are an Employer’s Obligations After a Workplace Injury?

Over 2.7 million workplace injuries occurred in the US in 2020. About 4,700 of these resulted in at least one death.

The good news was that both of these numbers dropped from where they were in 2019. Part of this is likely due to the spread of COVID 19 and the resulting lockdowns, though it’s hard to say by how much.

Regardless of why this happened, we can’t deny that workplace injuries are still a serious issue. Knowing how to respond to a workplace injury can be the difference between an inconvenience and a lawsuit. That’s why we’re discussing what to do after a workplace injury in this article.

Have the Proper Insurance

Perhaps the biggest thing you can do to help with a workplace injury is to carry the proper insurance. There are generally two types of insurance you should have if you run a business–workers’ compensation and employer’s liability.

Both are recommended because they protect against different but connected issues.

Workers’ compensation offers basic protection against workplace injuries, helping pay for lost wages, and the medical and day-to-day expenses of those injured on the job. In some cases, workers’ compensation insurance will even cover workplace fatalities and psychological damage.

Employer’s liability insurance, also known as general liability insurance, offers additional protection in case the employee in question decides to sue the company.

OSHA Compliance

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, often shortened to OSHA, is a set of workplace safety laws that all non-government employers must follow. Failure to follow them can result in a fine of tens of thousands of dollars per violation.

However, OSHA standards aren’t just legally required; they’re also useful. Failing to follow safety standards leaves you open to lawsuits if an employee is injured, and you’re almost guaranteed to be found negligent should they sue.

Since OSHA is a set of standards designed to make the workplace safer, injuries will be less frequent, and you’ll be further protected from lawsuits because there’s nothing you did wrong.

Respond Appropriately

Regardless of how much workers’ comp coverage you have, it’s still important to respond immediately if something bad does happen. The first thing to do when someone was injured is to assess the situation. Check how many people are injured and how badly.

If necessary, call 911. Otherwise, call a doctor or hospital and try to get the injured person the appropriate help in a timely manner. It will take more time in a non-emergency, but that’s not a problem.

Under OSHA, all workplaces are required to have a certain amount of first aid supplies on-hand. If there is any part of the injury you can treat with a first aid kit, please do so to the best of your abilities.

Aftermath and Accommodations

Workplace injury doesn’t end with the incident itself. If the injury was in any way serious, and it often is, the injured will be off work for the foreseeable future. You need to figure out a way to cover for their absence, whether that means hiring a temporary replacement or just moving a few of your existing employees’ shifts around.

In some cases, the injured will need a few accommodations to return to work. These often aren’t particularly demanding or expensive. You might have to assign a parking place close to the entrance for someone with mobility issues or allow someone to bring in a service dog if they need it.

In the absolute worst-case scenario, you may have to assign and train the person for a new role. The law requires you to do your best to let them return to their job, but sometimes there’s only so much you can do. In cases where the person simply isn’t able to do the same job even with accommodations, you can have them fill a new position.

Employee Training

Though only legally required for isolated job sites that are far from medical services, training your employees in first aid goes a long way toward preventing a bad situation from getting worse.

You’re only required to have one staff member trained in first aid, but it’s always better to educate as many workers as you can. First aid training is fairly affordable, so you don’t have to sacrifice much to ensure that your employees are ready in an emergency.

Contact a Lawyer

While OSHA, workers’ compensation insurance and staff training can go a long way toward preventing a lawsuit, there’s no real way to stop one. In the United States, you can legally sue someone for basically any reason. What keeps frivolous lawsuits from reaching court is the fact that it’s almost impossible for the plaintiff to win.

This doesn’t keep some people from trying, though, so it’s best to consult an attorney. Even if there’s almost no evidence in favor of the person filing the lawsuit, weirder things have happened in the US court system.

What to do After a Workplace Injury: A Guide for Employers

Workplace injury is a possibility in virtually any workplace in America, so it’s important to be prepared and know how to respond. We’ve discussed a few ways to handle and prevent workplace injuries in this article, but there’s always more to learn when it comes to business management and employee welfare.

If you want to know more about workers’ compensation law or are in need of a good workers’ compensation lawyer, please visit our site. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

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