In addition to developing programs for workplace safety and illness prevention for employees, an employer must also have procedures in place for reporting on-the-job injuries. This includes making employees aware of what to do when an injury occurs and preparing a form for adequately documenting the incident.
Workplace injuries and illnesses
Even with the best efforts to prevent workplace accidents and create a safe environment, work-related injuries and illnesses may still occur. Injuries that are considered work-related can occur in the office, on the factory floor, when the employee is in a vehicle on company business, or even at a company retreat, picnic, or holiday party. There are also a variety of illnesses that can be considered work-related.
Employers in all states are required by law to have worker's compensation coverage for work-related injuries and illnesses. Workers' compensation laws specify time frames in which an employee must report the injury or illness—which, depending on the state, can be as little as 24 hours—and for filing a workers' compensation claim.
Many work-related injuries, such as those caused by factory machinery, a fall from a loading dock, or a motor vehicle accident, are immediately apparent. This is not always the case with illnesses and conditions such as repetitive stress injuries, which can take days, months, or years to become apparent.
Reporting a work injury
Efforts should be made to ensure that all employees are aware of the procedure for reporting a workplace injury, which typically involves reporting as soon as possible, usually to the immediate supervisor or human resources department, and filling out an injury and illness report form. In the case of illnesses, a report should be made as soon as the employee becomes aware of the condition.
Having a report completed shortly after the injury occurs can protect your company from false or excessive workplace injury claims. The document may prove to be important if you decide to dispute the claim or if your business's insurance company refuses to pay benefits.
An injury report also assists the employee with filing a workers' compensation claim, which typically requires the employee to complete official forms used by the state workers' compensation department. The information contained in your company's form can be used by the employee to help them complete the state forms.
Content of an injury report
In determining what information to include in your business's injury report form, you may want to obtain a copy of the official form used by your state to use as a guideline. Most workplace injury reports should contain the following information:
- The name of the injured employee
- The date and time the injury occurred
- Where the injury occurred
- Details of how the injury occurred
- Details of the injuries incurred or symptoms experienced by the employee
- Details of any immediate treatment the employee received
- Names and contact information for anyone who was involved in or witnessed the accident or injury
An injury report can be a physical document or an electronic form. Some employers ask the employee to make a report by email, but this can result in important information being omitted.
The employer should also keep a written record of what happens after the injury, such as medical treatment received by the employee at an emergency room or follow-up treatment from physicians and other medical professionals. It may also include follow-up reports from the employee and written reports from the injured employee's supervisor regarding how the injury has affected the employee's ability to continue working.
A well-drafted workplace injury and illness incident report form can protect your company from false or excessive workers' compensation claims while also helping to process valid claims efficiently. A report can also help secure the injured employee's rights to workers' compensation benefits and other compensation.