Depending on the size of an employer's business, there should be a procedure to follow when an employee gets hurt at work. Often, employees and employers alike are confused about the steps to take when an employee is injured.
Ask yourself and maybe even your employer the following questions:
1. Is there a plan for medical care?
Communication is key. If you are hurt, your employer should have a well-communicated protocol for dealing with your injury or illness. For example, does your employer have a designated individual who will be responsible for transporting and injured employee to a hospital? Make sure that company procedures comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. Perhaps your employer ought to invite the fire department and other first responders to your company to become familiar with the facilities.
2. Did your employer investigate the incident?
State workers' compensation laws differ, but they all share the same basic premise: Employees are entitled to recover some sort of benefits if they are hurt or experience an illness in the context of their employment. Of course, an employer's insurance carrier makes the call on whether an injury is compensable. However, your employer should investigate following an incident where an employee is injured. And remember, any incident reports and interviews will likely become discoverable in any subsequent litigation and OSHA investigation.
3. Did you employer notify OSHA?
When serious injuries occur, employers need to inform OSHA. For example, if an employee is hospitalized, employers have 24 hours to report the incident to OSHA. In any event, OSHA can inspect and fine an employer for violations.
4. Were leave possibilities discussed?
The FMLA (federal) and CFRA (CA state) are leave laws that allow an employee to take unpaid leave from a job to care for oneself, a family member who is ill, or children who are unable to take care of themselves. There is also the Paid Family Leave Act (PFL) which does not change either law and is separate from both the FMLA and CFRA. PFL provides up to 6 weeks of partial pay to workers who take time off to bond with a new child or to care for a seriously ill family member.
Most often, workplace injuries and illnesses cannot be anticipated, but they can be managed more smoothly if your employer has a protocol. Does your employer have a procedure for workplace injures?
Finally, discrimination against an employee that is injured at work is illegal. An employer cannot fire an employee because he or she suffers a workplace injury leading to a disability. Ultimately, the employee must recover sufficient to return to work, with or without reasonable accomodations or job restrictions.