Most conversations about Workers’ Compensation — and our previous posts on the subject, from our series on the basics you need to know to more recent posts exploring traumatic brain injury, the possible worth of a Workers Comp case, and even the definition of mental injuries in the workplace — have focused on the individual employee who has been injured or made ill due to workplace events or conditions. What we haven’t explored very deeply before is the role of a supervisor or manager in these situations. We’d like to take some time today to look at the role of supervisors or management when it comes to workplace injuries and illnesses. Supervisors and managers are employees, too, and their special responsibility both represents the workplace itself, but also affects the injured or ill employee.
Are you a supervisor or manager concerned about possible legal issues if a direct or indirect report is injured in the workplace? Here’s what you need to know:
If an employee is injured on the job, the supervisor should immediately move to ensure the injury is dealt with properly. Do not wait, but see to it that the employee receives immediate medical care as needed. This may range from a simple visit to a doctor to a trip to the Emergency Room or even calling 911 to request an ambulance, depending on the severity of the injury or illness.
Request that the employee fill out a report on the injury as soon as possible. If their injury is not severe, try to have them fill it out immediately. Otherwise, be sure to get the report filed as soon as is physically possible, but no later than 90 days after the injury occurs. While it’s not mandated in every workplace, we also recommend filing your own report if you were physically present when the injury occurred, or ask any coworkers present to write about the event as well. Document all actions that you took as supervisor. Be accurate. An inaccurate report could be problematic later on.
Often, injured workers may return after seeking treatment with orders from a medical professional to work either a limited variation of their current work duties (a reduced limit for how much they can lift and/or carry, orders to remain sitting as often as possible, for instance) or may be recommended to take on a totally alternative assignment. Strict compliance with these medical restrictions is strongly recommended to facilitate the best recovery possible for the injured worker.
Studies have shown that keeping partially disabled, but recovering, workers within the workplace can actually speed their recovery. As such, if the employee is capable of working within the provided medical restrictions, it’s often in the best interests of both employee and business to do so. If the workplace is such that these restrictions cannot be safely followed, the supervisor should maintain regular contact with the employee during their time off work.
Even if you, as a supervisor, believe that the employee might not be as injured as they claim or that circumstances differed from their report, it is still your duty to file the report in a timely manner.
If you believe that the employee has falsified their report, your best recourse is to provide your own. Record your experience and ask anyone who witnessed the event or injury to document what they saw as well. Do not withold the employee’s claim or seek to have their report altered.
If a worker has suffered an injury in the workplace it’s important for the injured worker to sit down with a legal representative to review the injured worker’s rights under the law. Request a FREE consultation with Bluestein Attorneys by giving us a call at (803) 779-7599 or contacting us online at any time. We’ve worked extensively with Workers Compensation cases and would be happy to speak with any injured worker about the rights and protections afforded under the law. Contact us today!