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6 rules for dealing with workplace accidents


Man with sore back

Advice | Employment Legislation | Staff

By Jason Allison

Accidents happen. If one of your employees gets injured, it can have a big impact on your business. Following some simple rules can make all the difference when you have a workers compensation claim.

Making sure you have a safe workplace is a great investment, but there’s always a chance things will go wrong. If you’re in business long enough, chances are that eventually someone you employ will get hurt. When they do, it helps to know how to respond.

1. Report it

Whatever the injury, call your workers compensation insurer as soon as possible to report it. Early reporting can save you money. In NSW if you report the injury within five days you do not have to pay the excess on the claim (one week’s wages), and similar rules exist in some other states and territories. There are no disadvantages to early reporting, and it’s generally required by law.

2. Size doesn’t matter

However small the injury, don’t ignore it in the hope that ‘she’ll be right’. What may appear initially to be a minor injury can end up being serious – particularly for strains and sore backs where there’s no blood or broken bones to make it obvious. If you report the incident and nothing serious eventuates, you’ve lost nothing.

3. The need for speed

When someone’s hurt, the focus of all workers compensation insurers is early intervention. That’s because the longer the claim goes on, the more expensive it is likely to be for your insurer, which may then impact your future premiums. Getting treatment as soon as possible stops things getting worse and helps your employee to get back on the job with minimum disruption to your business. The sooner you call your workers compensation insurer the sooner they can help.

4. Keep your cool

Workplace accidents are disruptive and can be frustrating for a business owner, particularly if you feel your employee was careless or didn’t follow your instructions. Feeling angry can be an understandable reaction but keep these feelings to yourself. If you set up an adversarial dynamic with an injured worker it can add to everyone’s stress levels, which can slow the recovery process. If you have any concerns discuss them with your insurer.

5. Stay on the team

Just because someone has an injury doesn’t mean they’re useless. If they can’t do their normal job then try hard to find them something else to do, even if it’s just a few hours a week. The important thing is that they return to work in some capacity as soon as they can. At GIO Workers Compensation we know from experience that employers who are flexible and able to find alternative duties for an injured worker will generally have a better result.

It’s a good idea to go through your production processes and identify a range of tasks an injured worker could perform. If you do this before the accident that makes it easier for the treating doctor approve a return to work on ‘suitable duties’.

6. Accidents are opportunities – use them

Showing your genuine concern and supporting an injured worker through their recovery is an excellent way to build staff engagement and loyalty. It’s an opportunity not to be missed. Not only will the person who’s had the accident appreciate your support, but their colleagues will notice and this can have a dramatic effect on cohesion and morale within your team.

If you have employees then dealing with workplace safety is part of doing business. With the right response you can stay on your feet even when someone’s fallen.

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