Employee injuries are, or should be, a major concern for any organization regardless of industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 2.8 million recordable injuries in 2017, with over 31% of these resulting in lost workdays. Employees are the lifeblood of any organization, so when they’re sitting on the sidelines it directly impacts the performance and bottom line of the company. A direct way to protect profits and keep employees in the game is to implement early injury reporting policies into your health & safety program.
Below are 3 important reasons why early injury reporting can help lower operational costs, decrease loss of productivity, and show employees that they are valued.
#1: Improved Accident Investigations
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) does not require that every injury be reported. Only injuries that meet specific criteria require reporting - such as medical treatment beyond first aid, multiple days off of work, and fatalities. However, reporting injuries to internal management allows for data to be collected to assist with accident investigations and root cause analysis. This data is valuable in identifying current hazards which could lead to future injuries, examining employee behaviors, and addressing adverse workplace trends before more catastrophic injuries occur. Accident investigations are a critical part of any world-class health & safety program. They help businesses address work-related injuries at the source to lower the frequency and severity of accidents in the future.
#2) Properly Arranged Medical Treatment
When it comes to workplace injuries, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Even if an injury may appear minor at first, it’s good practice to have employees checked out by a healthcare professional. Remember, an injury may not show its full spectrum of symptoms right away. By arranging medical access as soon as an injury is reported, the employee can be examined properly. If the injury requires more than simple first aid treatment, further evaluation and care can be implemented immediately. This early appropriate response ensures that employees get the best care, reduces the risk of symptom escalation and can even help better guide a return to work program when needed. Early proper medical assessment and care, then, can help significantly reduce lost workdays. It also shows the employee that you care and put their safety first - a win-win for the entire organization.
#3) Avoids Late-Reporting Penalties
As noted earlier, work-related injuries impact the bottom line either through lost production or increased operational costs, or even both. However, these injury-related costs can be even more severe when injuries are not reported within the time frames set by state workers' compensation programs. Most states require employers to promptly report injuries or face the risk of fines and penalties. For example, in some states fines start at $250 for every injury claim reported 1 to 15 days late; the penalties increase to a maximum of $2,000 if reported over 61 days late. These penalties can severely impact the bottom line if late reporting becomes a trend– something that is one hundred percent preventable if proper internal policies are in place. Additionally, insurance companies can even deny workers’ compensation claims for late reporting, putting companies at risk of increased costs due to work-related injuries. Prompt injury reporting practices help businesses avoid the risk of profit margin erosion from late reporting penalties and increased worker’s compensation costs. As these penalties are completely preventable, there is no reason any business should succumb to these adverse costs.
Work-related injuries are a risk which every company with employees must accept and address. Reporting employee injuries promptly provides businesses with several benefits from avoiding costly state penalties to helping employees seek proper medical treatment. The benefits outweigh the costs, to say the least. A solid health & safety program with an emphasis on reporting injuries regardless of severity will help protect employees, protect profits and drive down operational costs across the entire organization.