A worker slips and falls in a retail shop or restaurant. An employee is injured in a car accident running company errands. An office assistant develops carpal tunnel from repetitive office work. A worker contracts an illness from exposure to a chemical or toxin on the job site.
Image credit: Image Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay
These are all scenarios where a company may be responsible for handling a workers’ compensation claim. All U.S. employers are responsible for addressing workplace-related injuries and illnesses, and depending on the number of employees, may be required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover costs.
While it’s ultimately the obligation of the employer to secure a workers’ compensation insurance policy, HR typically plays a significant role in administering workers’ comp policies, from using payroll software to estimate work comp costs to interacting with claims adjusters, doctors and attorneys.
Because workers’ comp is regulated on the state level, the claims process can vary. But generally speaking, when an employee is injured on the job and reports the incident to the employer, HR records details such as the type of injury and where it took place. From there, an official claim is filed on the employee’s behalf to the insurance company or the state’s workers’ comp agency office.
This process can be both tedious and time-consuming, which is why it’s important that HR personnel be familiar with work comp, workplace safety and the laws within their state.
We’re here to help with 4 simple tips HR should consider when navigating workers’ compensation.
- Educate Supervisors and Staff
A well-trained staff will know exactly what to do when an employee is injured on the job. This includes establishing the claim’s validity, directing injured employees to the appropriate individuals, managing work restrictions and more.
Not only is it crucial that HR is familiar with the work comp system as a whole, but managers or supervisors should understand general policies and procedures as it relates to workers’ comp. This includes becoming familiar with the jobs within your organization and the employees who are at a higher risk for sustaining workplace injuries.
Tip: Ask your insurance agent or carrier for information on workplace risks and safety advice specific to your industry. They may have free resources or even training to make your workplace and employees safer while saving you time and money.
- Document Everything in Detail
To help make the claims process as smooth and seamless as possible, make sure every detail regarding the injury is recorded. Document the scene using pictures, diagrams or anything that will provide the insurer with the most accurate and detailed information.
The insurer will use this information to pay medical bills, rehabilitation costs or lost wages, depending on the situation.
Additionally, reporting claims in a timely manner may be legally required; check your state’s required window for filing a claim after an injury is reported.
- Communicate and Follow Through
Keeping an open line of communication among all parties can help make the claims process much more manageable:
- Make sure the affected employee knows how the process works.
- Update them as you receive information from the insurer, including when they can expect to receive benefits.
- Work with the injured employee to formulate a plan for returning to work. Research shows it’s best to return the employee to work as soon as is realistic and appropriate, if this means on a limited work schedule, remotely or with modified responsibilities.
Tip: The U.S. Department of Labor offers a Return-to-Work Toolkit with resources for both employee and employer.
Likewise, you should touch base with the claims rep often, as this will help establish a partnership and keep the claims process moving.
- Promote Workplace Safety
You can help reduce the number of workplace injuries by implementing a safety program. This may include:
- Onboarding training for new staff or employees moving into a new role.
- Ongoing training to remind employees of workplace policies, or outline new safety procedures.
- Safety equipment (i.e. safety guards on machinery, fire suppression system, etc.).
- Required uniforms or gear for employees, such as non-slip shoes, covered footwear, or protective head or eye gear.
Doing so not only helps avoid future claims but could also bring down your workers’ comp policy cost.
Bio: Bill Landess is a partner at WorkCompOne (www.workcompone.com), an online insurance agency that makes it easy for busy small business owners to buy workers’ compensation insurance online. Licensed nationwide, WorkCompOne has helped thousands of small businesses get covered since its founding in 2012. Get a free quote online, on your schedule.