The construction industry has many occupational hazards. From working in dangerous conditions to operating heavy equipment, construction workers are often exposed to workplace accidents and injury. Therefore, as a contractor, you shouldn’t wait for disaster to strike before developing the protocols for handling workplace injury and illness claims.
Here are the steps you need to take to protect your business if one of your employees suffers a work-related injury or illness.
The first step in protecting your business from costly claims is to document every incident that takes place on your construction site. Whether it’s a case of an employee’s discomfort or an accident, it’s the responsibility of the employer as well as the injured employee’s supervisors, to investigate and collect all of the information related to the incident. At this stage, employers need to get statements from eyewitnesses, if any, and view the surveillance footage. Also, take note of the worker’s accounts of when and how they were injured.
Moreover, you need to find out if the employee has any pre-existing conditions and whether or not they reported the same in their pre-hire documentation. You should also collect information on the employee’s work history and past workers’ compensation claims. Having this information at hand will save you trouble down the road. Keep in mind that in large construction jobs, there are numerous potential liability parties. For example, as a contractor, you may be held responsible for workers’ compensation claims made by your subcontractors’ employees, if those subcontractors don’t carry workers’ compensation coverage. Therefore, you should make sure all of your subcontractors have adequate workers’ comp coverage in place.
Provide Immediate Medical Care
Authorizing medical treatment for an injured employee isn’t an admission of liability. In fact, you should offer immediate medical care to any injured employee. This will help you determine if the claim is genuine and show that you’re committed to addressing workplace injuries in a timely and compassionate manner. If the employee declines medical assistance, you should document the refusal. Providing medical care fosters goodwill, and consequently, reduces the possibility of a claim escalating to litigation.
Know Who Can Treat Injured Workers
Employers have the right to designate where an injured worker receives treatment. As a best practice, prior to the start of any job, a contractor should identify a medical facility that specializes in occupational medicine and return to work protocols. The right for an employer to choose a medical facility for injured workers varies from state to state. Therefore, make sure to understand and adhere to the requirements and specifics of your state’s laws when it comes to medical care. This can save you money, time, and energy down the road. Contact your workers’ compensation insurer and your state’s legal department to fully understand what’s expected of you.
Implement an Easy Return-to-work Program
Once an injured employee has been cleared for modified or transitional duty, you should work with the employee’s supervisors and/or human resources representative to get the employee into a transitional work program that aligns with the restrictions set by the treating physician. Having a transitional work program ensures that injured employees can resume work sooner, and therefore, transition from benefits to income, allowing you to control costs. These programs are also a good way to show injured employees that you value them.
By following the above-mentioned steps, you can limit costly workers’ comp claims and ensure quicker return-to-work for injured employees. At PMC Insurance Group, we use our robust carrier relationships, market reach, experience, and expertise to craft return-to-work programs and workers’ comp coverage for all kinds of risk exposures in the construction industry, including hard-to-place, complex exposures. For a construction workers’ comp policy that suits your clients’ needs and budget, contact our experts today.