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Manage the injured employee
  • After injury, employees sometimes delay returning to work for various reasons.
  • Employers should provide employees with the proper guidance and resources regarding work-related injuries and workers’ compensation.
  • If an employee is injured, an employer should provide the necessary support to ensure the employee receives appropriate care.

Employees who extend the amount of time they miss from work due to a work-related injury or illness often have more than one reason. These employees may feel:

  • Anger at the company or supervisor for not caring about their injuries.
  • Undervalued or not wanted back.
  • Embarrassed about their injuries and reluctant to face supervisors and coworkers.
  • Confused or uninformed about how or when to come back to work.

Employee education

An employee education packet should be given to all employees who sustain a work-related injury. The employee should be told which company representative will be following their medical case to ensure the best possible care. The employee should be asked to assist in the safety investigation to provide accurate information to the insurance carrier and help prevent future accidents.

Employees with a work-related injury or illness should be told how workers’ compensation (WC) works in their state and how the law regulates the claims process and benefits. They should have access to all the names and numbers to call if they have any questions related to benefits, scheduling, or human resources.

Employees should be given a thorough explanation of the company’s early return to work (RTW) program, if any, and the employee’s responsibility to provide timely RTW information from the doctor. The employee needs to know who the WC carrier is, and that the carrier may contact the employee. The employer should check back with the employee regularly to see if there are any questions about the system.

Many employees have the sense of being out of control and at the mercy of the system; however, providing education and establishing responsibilities for RTW issues can put them back in control. Providing this information in a caring way can help their self-esteem and give them confidence that they are an important part of the team.

The employer contacting the injured worker should focus on the employee’s well-being so that they are not perceived as pushy or nosy. They should act as a resource and a liaison and allay fears that the employee will lose benefits for asking questions.

Support for the injured/ill worker

As part of the company policy, a management representative or the immediate supervisor should be on hand immediately after the injury. When the employee needs emergency medical treatment, someone should accompany the employee to the hospital/physician’s office, even if the employee is taken by ambulance, to ensure the injured worker receives proper care.

There may be urgent questions regarding the employee’s work environment or exposure that the company nurse/supervisor can provide. The supervisor can inform the medical provider that work restrictions will be accommodated if possible.

While an employee is off work, the supervisor should maintain regular contact with the injured employee on at least a weekly basis. This ensures the employee is receiving appropriate, quality, timely, and effective therapy. In addition, it assists the worker with any problems regarding care or compensation. Finally, this contact facilitates communication between the company and medical provider, allowing for a smooth transition back to work.