Wider World of Business

Employee injuries can create more work for a small business owner, but you don't have to let them become a liability.

Even if your business is a corporate office, consider following these steps when an employee is injured on the job:

1. Seek Emergency Help.

If you or your employees suspect an employee has seriously injured him or herself, call 911. You may train your employees to deliver life-saving aid (i.e., CPR) on customers and fellow employees, but you still need to seek emergency medical aid for serious injuries.

Some examples of serious injuries include: broken bones, fainting or seizures, heart attacks, concussions, head injuries, eye injuries, or serious burns.

2. Don't Worry About Costs -- Follow Your Policy.

Ironically, some employers may think it will save them money to have an employee visit a hospital or doctor once his or her shift has ended. If anything, this refusal to let an employee seek immediate aid can open up an employer to more liability.

Follow your established emergency policy and worry about lost costs later. Some state or local governments may even cover the costs of ambulance services and an initial doctor's visit.

3. Fill Out the Necessary Forms.

Once the injured employee is being taken care of, you need to submit reports of the injury to your insurance company and likely the state. Remember that your employee will likely have workers comp or disability forms for you to fill out as well — don't neglect them.

4. Investigate and Document Everything.

You should by now have a healthy file started on your injured employee. Even if you are exempt from OSHA regulation, you should investigate the cause of the injury. Speak with co-workers, supervisors and the injured employee and make sure to memorialize all conversations, meetings and accommodations.

5. Remain in Contact With the Injured Worker.

This may sound like a “no duh,” but keep in contact with your injured employee. An open line of communication will ensure you don’t miss any changes in your employee’s status or any requests for accommodation.

6. Offer Reasonable Accommodations.

Injured employees may be entitled to reasonable accommodations under federal and/or state law. That’s why you may want to speak with an experienced employment attorney about what types of accommodations may be appropriate for each employee. Even if you are not required by law to accommodate an injured employee, it may be worth having him or her in the office.

Bottom line: Be prepared to react when unexpected injuries strike your employees, because in law, time does not heal all.