We know that supervisor’s role on the floor or jobsite is critical to maintaining a safe place to work and limiting unsafe behavior but their role after an injury occurs is also critical.
Getting the proper care after the accident is, of course, the main concern. Calling an ambulance or escorting the employee to your predetermined occupational health expert immediately after an injury is the first step. Early involvement with your occupational health professional can directly impact the duration of the treatment, overall medical cost and length of lost time.
Reporting the incident is also critical so that the employer’s work comp coordinator can make sure the insurance carrier is on notice and, again, that the employer’s occupational health clinic is involved. Timely reporting will also allow for a proper investigation of the circumstances surrounding the claim. Tracking the time to report a claim to management is a recommended benchmark for every supervisor.
An influential factor in the post-injury outcome is the health of the relationship between the employee and supervisor before the accident. According to a DuPont study, an employee’s perception of the employer and management is directly related to the outcome of a work comp claim. Employee satisfaction surveys are one way to measure employee fulfillment.
The communication between the supervisor and employee after the injury is important. The employee must know the employer is concerned about their well-being and is anxious to have them back. After the accident, keeping in touch with the injured employee will keep work “alive” in the employee’s mind. The employee’s importance and the supervisors/employer’s genuine care and concern for the employee will be voiced. All too often supervisors don’t know what to say or are afraid to contact an injured employee. With some communication the employee can be put as ease and the supervisor can let them know how much they are missed.
If an employee returns to work on a light duty basis, the quality of the relationship will again be important. Accommodating the employee’s limitations and finding a valued role for the employee to fill while recuperating is essential.
Supervisors need training so that they know the step by step process of post-injury behavior. Written guidelines can give supervisors a go-to guide in the case of an accident. Role playing and education can help to reinforce the action that needs to be taken. Engaging supervisors on how their role has a direct impact on limiting work comp costs and maintaining profitability is essential.