What to do when an employee is injured at work

A step-by-step guide of employer actions and responsibilities after a work-related injury, and how workers’ compensation insurance can help.

Matt Crawford
By Matt Crawford
Published Oct 17, 2023
4 min read
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Accidents can happen in any workplace. It’s important to make sure you and your team know what to do when an employee is injured at work. Follow this step-by-step guide to be prepared for unexpected situations.

Jump ahead to learn:

What’s considered an injury at work?

A workplace injury is considered an injury or illness that happens during an employee’s normal scope of work.

It can include physical injuries such as sprains, fractures or burns, and illnesses caused by exposure to toxic substances. Even seemingly minor ailments like a repetitive motion injury caused from typing could be considered a workplace injury.

If a work injury occurs, a workers’ comp claim could help cover the medical expenses, lost wages and other related costs. But there are some immediate steps business owners should take before they file a claim.

4 things an employer should do immediately after a workplace injury

There are a few critical steps to consider immediately following an employee injury at work.

First, get the injured worker to a safe place and make sure they receive prompt medical attention. The health and safety of your employee should be your top priority.

Call for emergency medical services if necessary or take the employee to a hospital or clinic. If emergency treatment isn’t required, ensure the employee gets first aid and sees a doctor.

In some states, your workers’ compensation insurer may have provided you with medical providers to use in the event of an accident. Using these providers can help streamline your employee’s recovery.

Once the employee’s medical needs have been addressed, it’s important to secure the site where the incident occurred.

Keeping other employees out of the area and preserving the evidence is essential.

For example, you may need to use caution tape or warning signs around the area.

After these initial steps, you can proceed to the next actions.

1. Document the incident

Record the details of the incident as soon as possible while the event is still fresh in your mind.

Document the event, including what happened, who was involved and any witness statements. Photographs of the scene and relevant equipment or machinery can also be helpful.

Documentation helps insurance companies understand what happened, which helps them process claims faster. This step is crucial to ensuring employees get the care and support they need following a workplace incident.

2. Report the incident to the appropriate authorities

Report any workplace incidents to the appropriate authorities. This includes notifying the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) either by phone at (800) 321-6742 or by using the online reporting form.

The reporting requirements vary depending on the severity of the incident.

3. Notify your workers’ compensation insurance carrier

It is best to report workplace accidents to your workers’ compensation carrier as soon as possible, the same day the injury occurs.

At NEXT, you’ll usually speak with an adjuster within 24 hours of reporting. A claims decisions can take a few days or up to several weeks, depending on the complexity of the case.

Generally, the quicker you report the accident, the faster the injured employee receives the compensation they need.

4. Ask your employee to complete the necessary paperwork

Your workers’ comp provider may ask for information or forms from your employee.

Encourage your employee to provide requested documentation and fill out the forms accurately and completely. It’s best to provide your claims adjuster with this information as soon as possible so that the claim can be resolved.

Employer responsibilities after a workplace injury

In the days and weeks following an employee’s injury, you will play a key role in supporting their recovery by maintaining open communication with them, their medical provider and your insurance carrier. By doing so, you can help support their recovery and ensure a smooth and timely process.

Help your injured employee return to work

Being responsive to inquiries and keeping communication clear can show your employee that you support them and want to help them recover.

To make your employee’s return to work as smooth as possible, you may need to work with their physician to create accommodations.

Accommodations for employees returning can vary depending on your state laws and individual circumstances.

For example, if an employee sustains a work injury that limits mobility, you may need to install ramps to ensure they can safely access all workplace areas. In some cases, the employee may need to work reduced hours or perform modified duties until they have fully recovered from their injury.

Follow up with your insurance carrier

You’ll also want to follow up with your insurance carrier.

Keep in touch with them and provide any necessary updates throughout the process. It’s crucial to maintain accurate records of all communications and paperwork related to the claim to make sure it’s handled in a timely and efficient manner.

Review safety protocols

It’s a good idea to review and improve safety protocols.

This might involve various steps, including training employees on proper safety procedures. Or you might regularly inspect equipment to identify potential hazards and make necessary repairs or upgrades to ensure that all equipment and machinery function properly.

It’s smart to take a proactive approach to safety in the workplace to reduce potential accidents and employee injuries at work and ensure a safe and healthy working environment.

How NEXT helps protect small business owners from injuries at work

Our workers’ compensation coverage is designed to help small business owners provide financial help to their employees after an injury at work. It can also provide protection from lawsuits with built-in employer liability coverage.

It’s easy to get coverage with our online platform.

Start a free quote, review your options and select the coverage you want. Once you make a purchase, you’ll have immediate access to your certificate of insurance. The entire process can take about 10 minutes.

Get an instant quote today.

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Matt Crawford
About the author

Matt Crawford leads NEXT's content team. He's a small business insurance specialist and has worked with business owners throughout his career as a community journalist and content marketer.

You can find him at one of his many favorite local restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area when he's not at work.

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