How to Respond to Workplace Accidents

It’s always a challenge for HR professionals to deal with cases of accidents in the workplace. Employment law and labor policies have provisions for how on-the-job injuries must be handled, and organizations should not take them lightly.

Violations of workplace laws involving injuries can take a toll on both the company’s reputation and their bottom line. In 2018 alone, injuries on the job cost companies $170.8 billion in total losses. The figure includes productivity losses as well as medical and compensation for fatalities.

Of course, businesses may need to look at these facts more seriously and implement the needed measures to mitigate the risk to workers. But apart from that, they also have to consider how best to approach injury cases that could potentially cripple the bottom line.

This is definitely one of the most challenging aspects of an HR professional’s job, but it’s still possible to make the process less complicated, costly, and risky.

Here are a few things to bear in mind when an employee has been injured on the job:

  1. Stay on top of the situation

As a member of the HR department, your main concern is the health and welfare of employees. You’re always the go-to person whenever there are issues that directly affect the productivity of the entire organization. That said, it’s important that you or someone else from your department is present on the scene. This way, you can keep the scenario from getting any worse.

  1. Attend to immediate medical needs 

Any injury, no matter how severe, requires immediate medical attention. You can’t afford to wait it out until an ambulance arrives to take charge of the situation. The company has to do its part to make sure that an employee gets immediate medical care. So, while you wait for medical professionals to arrive, an employee that's certified in first aid should be called in to monitor the injured person.

  1. Conduct an independent investigation

The employee who had been injured on the job will most likely launch a lawsuit against the company. While you have done everything you can to keep the situation from getting any worse, you also have to be prepared for worst case scenarios. For this, make sure to interview witnesses on the scene. You may also retrieve footage from your CCTV system and take physical evidence related to the accident. Be sure not to alter or contaminate the scene to avoid incriminating the company in court. 

  1. Become a part of a crisis committee

It’s one thing if an employee suffers an injury, but it’s another if the accident results in the wrongful death of the employee. And you can bet that the company will face investigation and will open themselves up to lawsuits, considering how this website describes why negligent wrongful deaths favor the families of employees. In such cases, the organization will surely look to the HR and legal departments for guidance, and depending on the setup, a crisis committee will be formed to decide which crucial actions to take. As a member of the HR department, you should be able to work with the other departments as well as the company's legal team to discuss how to mitigate the effects of accidents to the bottom line.

  1. Keep communication lines open 

Even if the situation doesn't end up in court, you still need to collaborate with other departments in the company and with the employee who suffered the injury. In this sense, it's always important to come up with an effective communication system in which everyone is in the loop about the latest developments. Be transparent and stay involved, unless of course there's an ongoing legal battle where you may not be allowed to discuss the situation with others.

  1. Reach out and debrief your employees

In light of injury to an employee, you have to consider its effect on other employees, especially those who witnessed it first-hand. Workplace morale can be adversely affected, so it’s your job as a member of the HR department to make sure everyone can move forward after the incident. In this case, you may need to call regular town hall meetings where employees can voice their concerns on safety and welfare. This could be a challenge since you don't want the company to come off as negligent. The goal here, in fact, is to remind everybody that their best interests and safety are still a top priority. 

As part of the HR department, you want to avoid someone being injured by faulty machinery or clear lapses in meeting safety standards. Keep the above tips in mind to keep your employees safe and the company safe from lawsuits.