workers comp

The First 24 Hours After an Injury

The moment an injury occurs, it initiates a sequence of events that can last for weeks or even months. But no matter how prolonged the recovery period, the first 24 hours after an injury are the most crucial. To respond effectively to an incident, the majority of the action items should occur within 24 hours.

The First 24 Hours after an Injury are Critical

Injured employees may feel worried about keeping their jobs, worried about their health and frustrated or confused by company policies. A rapid response plan turns a potentially negative event into a more manageable scenario for you and the employee by addressing their concerns up front, helping them get the care they need and lowering claims costs.

In a study published by the Hartford Financial Services Group, it was found that:

  • Claims reported during the second week after an occurrence had an average settlement value that was 18 percent higher than that for claims reported during the first week.
  • Waiting until the third or fourth week resulted in claims costs that were about 30 percent higher.
  • Claims that were not reported until 1 month after the occurrence were typically 45 percent higher.
  • According to the study, back injuries were particularly sensitive to delayed reporting; waiting just one week to report a back injury typically results in a 40 percent increase in the ultimate cost of the claim.

Common Reasons for Delaying Reporting

  • The injured party believes the pain will go away.Most injuries that are not addressed immediately take longer to heal.
  • Lack of employee training. Approximately 97 percent of employees injured on the job do not know what process to follow.
  • Concern that there will be a negative reaction from a supervisor. This highlights the importance of supervisor training, creating a clear message about immediate reporting, and maintaining a supportive work environment.
  • Anon-injury issue. This occasionally can result in an employee belatedly reporting a real or fabricated injury in order to retaliate for some other grievance against the company or supervisor.

Training and Communication

Training should ensure employees are aware of how to access appropriate care. Employees should be comfortable reporting injuries knowing they will be treated with care and respect. During training, continually reinforce the company’s commitment to helping every injured employee heal properly and return to work promptly.

To aid in educating your staff about workplace injuries, your company should create and post a written, 24-hour response plan for employees and supervisors to follow.

Expedited Return to Work

From the moment an injury is first examined, there should be considerations made as to when the employee will be able to return to their duties. Return to Work programs tend to result in better health outcomes and preserve many important benefits, such as health coverage, that are contingent on attendance.To facilitate your Return to Work program, you should:

  • Communicate caring and concern as soon as possible, letting the injured employee know that you care about their well-being and want them back on the job as soon as they are able.
  • Give the injured employee forms to take to the doctor. These forms allow the doctor to authorize return to work and note any temporary restrictions an employee may have.
  • Follow up with the injured employee by finding out how the doctor’s visit went. Together, you can formulate an appropriate Return to Work plan.