Supervisors are critically important to the effectiveness of your injury management program. They are often the first person on the scene of a workplace accident and may know the injured worker better than anyone else in the organization. They set the tone for how well the injured worker responds and engages in the recovery process.
Employees in charge of other workers who view their role in the workers’ compensation process as just an annoyance do a disservice to injured workers and the organization. Employers should take steps to ensure supervisors appreciate the value of the workers’ compensation program and have a thorough understanding of how they can positively contribute to it.
While some organizations have detailed step-by-step plans in place for handling workplace injuries, many don’t; or even if they do, most employees are typically not well versed in the protocol. That’s why it is imperative to continually train supervisors on all the various aspects of the workers’ compensation system and how they fit into it.
For example, if one of your workers went to his supervisor after sustaining an injury, how would the supervisor respond? Would he know, or have a list of steps to follow, a medical provider to treat the worker, if needed? Would he know to address the worker’s medical needs first?
Here are some of the initial procedures supervisors should have down pat:
- Get injured worker medical attention. First and foremost, make sure the worker gets medical attention if needed. If so,
Where to go
- How to get the worker there; i.e., should he drive himself, and, if not, who should drive him
- What, if anything to take with him
- Communicate appropriately. Extensive research has been done on the impact of a supervisor’s language and tone toward an injured worker. Questioning the truthfulness of the worker, for example, can have a dramatic impact on outcomes. Negativity threatens the worker and research has shown the odds are there will be twice as many days out of work than if there is a positive response from the supervisor.
- Whom to contact. Is there a department/person/number the organization has for reporting injuries? For example, is there a nurse triage system in place?