Are you prepared for accidents and injuries in the workplace? Our blog discusses how to respond to these and support your employees back to work!

Injuries can happen to anyone at any time, but when they happen in the workplace employers have a duty of care to ensure their employees’ continued health, safety and wellbeing. Injuries can be a deeply distressing –not to mention painful – experience and the way you respond to that situation will tell your employees who you are as an employer.

Workplace injuries can cause a business more than a headache, too. According to SafeWork Australia, workplace injuries may cost the Australian economy around $60 million every year. That’s a huge cost, and as injuries present a range of challenges for managers and team leaders, the first thing any employer should be doing is looking at how they can prevent them from happening in the first place. 

Employees are the lifeblood of an organisation and since no one can know when an accident will occur, it’s important that employers can cover all bases. We’ve written a previous blog about working safely in the winter if you need tips on helping your employees to prevent accidents in the first place. Below, we’ve put together all you need to know about supporting an injured employee –  from preventing incidents from happening to what happens afterwards.

Workplace Assessments

No matter the injury’s severity, your employee will likely need time off to recover. It’s at this time you need to start getting a workplace assessment completed. A workplace assessment involves an outside party coming to take a look at the area in which the injury took place, making suggestions at how to avoid any further issues and then work with your employee to ensure their ongoing comfort. This will clamp down on any further risks in your business and keep it moving and reduce issues that predispose your team to further injuries.

Identifying causal factors is important and from here, you can implement better preventative measures in the future. Your employees deserve to feel as if they are well supported by you and workplace assessments can be completed by an external party. Every injury is different and so there is no real ‘one size fits all’ solution – which is why a workplace assessment is going to help.

You can have your worksite assessed and from here, the assessor can work with your employee to find out whether there are any barriers that could prevent their recovery at work. As an employer, you can then work through those boundaries together.

Supporting Employees Back to Work

Depending on the injury it can take some time for your employee to ease into their duties and come back to work. You can delegate their tasks to others so that their job can stay open and while you do this, keep a conversation going with them. Being in touch throughout their recovery is critical for both you and your team members so that they can return safely to their duties.

Working closely together to develop a Return to Work plan can help you to lay out the assistance you will need to provide to your employee. It also allows you to offer a clear pathway to make them feel ready to be back in the business again. A Return to Work plan can often include:

  • The details of the injured employee and their support person/team.
  • Their goals in returning to work.
  • Any ongoing medical treatment needs.
  • The stages of returning to work as laid out by their doctor.
  • The psychological and physical capacity to maintain working duties.
  • Specific work tasks that should be avoided how long for.
  • Any changes to the workplace necessary for support.
  • A plan review date.

Identifying any obstacles to your employee’s safe return to work early will give you something to discuss in-depth and you will then be able to provide reassurance that you have managed future risk. This is a critical period for you as an employer, as you can demonstrate the level of commitment and support you give to your employees.

Employers should base A Return to Work plan on their strengths and their preferences for coming back to work quickly and safely. Communication is key from the time of the injury and throughout the rehabilitation process so that you both know what to expect in the coming days. Conversation can make all the difference to the entire process on both sides and you can show your team just how much you care!

Moving Forward Together

Following up with your employee is crucial once your employee has received medical approval to return to work. The Return to Work form has already helped to create a pathway to enable them to back to their daily tasks.. To assist your employee to move forward from the injury and back into work may require some reasonable changes on your part, including the possibility of offering remote work for a while.

Rehabilitation takes time and you want to be a part of the recovery and not exacerbate the issue. As an employer, you will gain something from this experience as you can refine your practices for potential injuries in the future and make reasonable adjustments for your employee. Improving your existing return to work procedures and sharing this with your whole team will help you to promote a positive work culture.

Sometimes, it works out that your employee cannot come back to work in the specific role that they did before. Medical opinion counts here but it’s always a good idea to explore all changes that you can make for your employee’s comfort.

Summary

Accidents happen, even in the workplace but if you offer the right support for your team, you’re going to be a better employer. Supporting your team back into the workplace after an injury takes time and it’s worth it to keep your best talent on board.  

If you are interested in learning more about how to better support your employees after a workplace injury and what to do if you need a temp to come on board, reach out to one of our team at Employment Group. Our Recruiters work throughout Australia and New Zealand to connect your business with leading talent in professional, executive and industrial roles.

Author – Employment Group