Help! My employee is broken… What do I do?
In Western Australia, approximately two people are injured per hour seriously enough to take one or more days/shifts off work. www.workcover.wa.gov.au
Do you know what to do when one of your employees is injured? Follow the simple steps below to navigate your way through a potentially stressful situation, meet your responsibilities as an employer and look after your employees.
Step 1 Ensure Employee Well Being
Your first priority is always the wellbeing of the injured employee: administer First Aid if appropriate and/ or seek medical attention. This may involve driving the injured employee to a doctor or, in more serious cases, calling an ambulance.
Step 2 Conduct an Incident Investigation
Conducting an investigation following a workplace incident will help you to:
- identify what happened;
- how it happened; and,
- what can be done to reduce the risk of it reoccurring?
Step 3 Lodge a Workers Compensation Claim
If an employee provides you with a completed Workers’ Compensation Claim Form (available from www.workcover.wa.gov.au) accompanied by a First Certificate of Capacity from a doctor, you must lodge a claim with your insurer within five working days.
Your insurer (not you) will assess the claim and decide if it is accepted, disputed or pended i.e. they need more time to make a decision. Acceptance of a claim may result in:
- weekly compensation payments to the injured employee;
- payment of medical costs; and/ or
- implementation of a return to work program i.e. restricted or alternative duties while the injured employee is in recovery, helping to maintain engagement with the workplace and facilitating a return to pre-injury duties.
Where there is permanent impairment the employee may be entitled to a Lump Sum payment.
Step 4 Report the Incident
The following must be reported to WorkSafe at www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe:
- a fracture of the skull, spine or pelvis;
- a fracture of any bone in the arm (other than in the wrists or hands) or in the legs (other than a bone in the ankle or foot);
- an amputation of an arm, a hand, finger, finger joint, leg, foot, toe or toe joint;
- the loss of sight of an eye;
- any injury other than the above which, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, is likely to prevent the employee from being able to work within 10 days of the day on which the injury occurred; and
- infectious diseases and occupational zoonoses (a disease which can be transmitted to humans from animals) contracted during work.
Step 5 Risk Management
Your best strategy when it comes to workplace injuries is to minimise the risk of them occurring.
This can be achieved by:
- Actively spotting hazards – this should be the responsibility of everyone in the workplace.
- Assessing the risk - how likely is it to happen and how severe is the harm likely to be?
- Managing the risk - can the hazard be removed, or the risk minimised?
- Monitoring and reviewing – including the reporting of near misses as well as actual incidents.
Individuals, as well as businesses, are held responsible for compliance with Occupational Safety and Health law. Consequences for a breach of this law include: improvement or prohibition notices; enforceable undertakings; prosecutions; fines; and/ or imprisonment.
Workplace injuries can be costly; not only financially, but also in terms of lost productivity and employee engagement. Following the steps outlined above will at least, help you take care of your employees when they need it most, but more importantly minimise the likelihood of a workplace injury occurring.