Many know that accidents happen every day. But knowing that they happen and being prepared for them are two separate things. That is why work injuries can take employers by surprise, even if they’ve done their due diligence by securing a workers’ comp insurance policy. Although workplace accidents are scary to think about, having a plan can help you keep calm and make these times of crisis more manageable.
These accidents aren’t just limited to the traditional office environment either. Workers’ comp insurance claims for working from home became commonplace with the universal adoption of remote work due to the global pandemic.
A home office may not seem as inherently dangerous as other workplace environments, but that doesn’t mean that employees can’t hurt themselves there. And if one of your workers is injured or suffers a health condition while on the clock, is your business legally responsible?
The answer is “most likely yes” — individuals who work from home are legally entitled to the same workers’ comp benefits as traditional office employees. As an employer, your lack of control over the conditions of your employees’ home-based work space is irrelevant – workplace injuries should always be reported to your insurance carrier, where a licensed adjuster will make a determination on coverage and benefit eligibility. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as a small business owner, you’re responsible for providing your employees with a safe work environment — both traditional office employees and telecommuters.
Below is an outline of steps for employers to take in the unfortunate event of a staff injury at work.
Address the Injury and Safety Issues
When an accident happens, the first step is to determine the level of emergency. If the injured person requires immediate medical assistance, you should call 911. In the case that an injury is less severe but still may require medical attention, you may be able to contact a medical advice hotline through your workers’ compensation insurance to get advice about whether urgent care or the emergency room is the best route.
Report the Injury to Your Workers’ Compensation Carrier
You should report the injury to your workers’ compensation insurance carrier as soon as possible. The claims adjuster may be able to answer your questions and fill in gaps, so the earlier you reach out, the less likely you’ll be to miss a step. Be ready to provide details about the incident, such as:
- Date and time of incident
- Location where the incident occurred
- Description of the injury
- Date you became aware of the injury/li>
Even if you are still gathering information, it’s better to make an incomplete report than to delay the claims process.
Respond Promptly to Requests for Additional Information
Once the workers’ comp claim is filed, the insurance adjuster, injured employee, and medical providers may reach out to you with questions or information requests. Because the claims process is time sensitive, you should prioritize your responses to these queries.
As an employer, you may also need to communicate regularly with other staff who witnessed or have information about the incident to ensure that they also provide timely input for the claims investigation. Encouraging accountability may help the claims process move along so that everyone can get back to work.
Evaluate Workplace Safety and Training Needs
Though unfortunate, workplace accidents are often a call for increased safety measures or training for staff. You can work with your workers’ comp insurance provider as well as your state’s workers compensation agency to learn about best practices for workplace safety.
A safety audit may be one way to prevent future accidents and reduce injuries on your team. By showing that you are committed to staff safety, you can increase employee morale and may even reduce your business insurance rates.
Craig Shapiro is Vice President, Product & Underwriting for Cerity, a workers’ compensation insurance provider founded with a bold vision to reimagine small- to medium-sized business insurance. With its digital-first approach, Cerity is transforming the entire process to empower business owners to quickly and easily protect their team, assets and livelihood through an online workers’ compensation solution. Follow Cerity on Twitter @CerityisHere.