The Importance of Timely Injury Reporting
Every company will inevitably have an employee injury. Whether an injury is severe or minor, it is best to be prepared. Although the appropriate medical treatment for injuries may vary, there is one thing that remains constant for workplace injuries: they must be timely reported.
First, employees must be trained to inform their supervisor immediately when they are injured, no matter how minor the injury may be. Employees should be notified that failing to report an injury could result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination, and could also make it more difficult for the employees to collect workers’ compensation benefits for their injuries. Even if the employee does not believe an injury to be serious, it is important that they report it promptly. Employees should be informed that they can choose to refuse treatment even if they report an injury, and decide later whether medical care is necessary (for example, if an injury gets worse in some way.) Alternatively, if employees wait to report their injuries until they decide they need medical care at a later date, they risk the possibility of being denied benefits because the claim appears suspicious or even fraudulent. Properly training your employees to notify a supervisor after an injury is the first step towards ensuring that your injuries are managed timely and properly.
When a workplace injury is timely reported, the employer has the opportunity to retain control over some of the employee’s injury care for the first 28 days. This can be a considerable benefit to an employer. When possible, injured employees should first be directed to an occupational clinic. For major injuries or injuries that occur after regular business hours, injured employees may need to go to the nearest emergency room. However, when there is a choice and it will not place the employee’s medical care in jeopardy, we recommend an occupational clinic over an emergency room or an employee’s personal doctor. Emergency rooms often fail to ask about or document work status, making it more difficult to properly administer the workers’ compensation claim. It can also take several weeks to obtain the paperwork necessary to process a workers’ compensation claim from an emergency room or personal doctor. Additionally, hospitals and personal doctors are also likely to require that employees provide signed medical releases in order to release medical records, which can also cause additional delays in processing workers’ compensation claims. Occupational clinics, which are more accustomed to handling workplace injuries, will be sure to address the employee’s work status and will usually provide the medical notes quickly. Another benefit to utilizing an occupational clinic is that they will often take a more conservative and less invasive approach to the injured worker’s treatment. Depending on the injury, occupational clinics will generally start with treatment such as physical or occupational therapy rather than recommending immediate surgery.
In addition to managing workers’ compensation claims, UAP can also assist our clients with training their employees and supervisors on the importance of timely injury reporting and sending injured workers to occupational clinics. Please contact UAP for any additional information.