Workers’ Comp Injuries: The First 24 Hours
When a workplace related injury occurs, it triggers a sequence of events and activities that can last days, weeks, or even months. Having a clearly defined 24-hour injury response policy and plan will help managers and supervisors be more effective and consistent in their response to a reported injury. A rapid injury response plan turns a potentially negative event into a more manageable scenario for you and the employee.
The lag between when an injury occurs, and reporting of the injury, both to management and the insurance carrier, can have a significant impact on the cost of the claim. A study published by The Hartford Financial Services Group on late workers’ compensation claim reporting found the following:
Claims reported during the second week after an injury occurrence had an average settlement value that was 18% higher than that for claims reported during the first week.
Waiting until the third or fourth week resulted in claims' costs that were about 30% higher and claims not reported for 1 month or longer were typically 45% higher.
The most common reason for delayed reporting is that the injured party believes the pain will go away. This creates problems, as most injuries that are not addressed immediately take longer to heal.
The second most common reason for delayed reporting is a lack of employee training. It is important that training is provided in advance so employees will not be confused about company reporting procedures should an injury occur. For supervisors, training allows them to take a more active role in managing the response and to serve as a guide for injured employees.
Training should ensure that employees are aware of how to access appropriate care. Employees should be comfortable reporting injuries knowing they will be treated with care and respect. When an injury occurs, immediate assessment is critical. Ideally, a staff member trained in first aid can assess the severity of the injury and the appropriate action needed. From the moment an injury is first examined by appropriate medical personnel, there should be considerations made as to when the employee will be able to return regular or modified duties. Return to Work programs tend to result in better health outcomes. These programs also help to reduce overall claims costs.
I hope the information covered helps reinforce the benefits of quick response and reporting of workplace injuries. Responding appropriately to a work-related injury in the first 24 hours really does make a difference for everyone.