Someone got hurt on the job...now what? The policies and procedures for workplace injuries vary slightly across Canada, with each province having their own separate Worker's Compensation Board (WCB), which, in BC, is WorkSafe BC. In this post, we will be taking a closer look at what British Columbian employers need to do when injury occurs in their workplace.
Well, first things first, as soon as you see or hear that a worker has been injured, assess the injury and provide any first aid necessary, including a call to 9-1-1 if appropriate. Please note that if it is necessary to transport the injured worker to a hospital or other emergency facility, all costs associated with transportation (taxi fare or ambulance fees) will be covered by the employer. Once the worker is in good care, you can begin the next step.
Do I need to report this incident or injury?
Luckily for British Columbians, the criteria for reportable incidents and injuries is pretty straightforward. According to Worksafe BC, an employer must report an injury in the workplace if a worker:
- Is taken from or leaves the jobsite for treatment at a medical facility
- Misses time from work after the day of the injury
- Loses consciousness
- Is diagnosed with a work-related disease
- Develops symptoms of a mental health disorder related to work or the work environment
- Suffers broken eyeglasses, dentures, hearing aid or artificial limb due to a work-related incident
To report a serious injury or fatality, call the Worksafe BC emergency and accident reporting line. These incidents include:
- Serious injury to or death of a worker
- Major structural failure or collapse of a building, bridge, tower, crane, hoist, temporary construction support system, or excavation
- Major release of a hazardous substance
- Fire or explosion that had a potential for causing serious injury to a worker
- Blasting incident causing personal injury
- Dangerous incident involving explosives, whether or not there is personal injury
When reporting these emergency incidents, be prepared to provide the following information:
- Your contact name and phone number
- The location/address of the incident
- The date and time of the incident
- The number of workers involved, and their names
- A brief description of the incident
The employer is also responsible for making sure the employee receives the appropriate forms and information they need to file their claim with WorkSafe BC.
Create a modified work plan (if necessary)
The worker has the right to return to a suitable job either during, or after they have recovered from an injury, and it is the employer's responsibility to ensure that plans to accommodate the worker have been made.
When creating a return to work plan for an injured worker, you must ensure that the new work meets the following goals:
- Duties must be meaningful and productive
- Duties must be safe, that is, neither harm the worker nor slow recovery
- Duties must be suited to the worker’s skills and abilities
- Duties must be within the worker’s current limitations.
The employee's successful return to work depends on your ability and willingness to help them be successful. Keep in mind that not only does it benefit your worker, it also benefits the company. Modified work plans help you retain experienced workers (and avoid training and hiring costs), as well as help with worker relations and morale, and keeps productivity up.
However, it is important that discussions regarding what kind of work they are able to perform take place prior to their return, so that everyone has a clear understanding of what their modified work plan looks like before they arrive back at work. So, what kind of modifications does the WCB suggest?
- Temporarily modifying the worker’s pre-injury job, and/or
- Temporarily modifying the worker’s days and/or hours of work, or
- Identifying alternate work
It's important that you maintain regular contact with your worker, their doctor, and WorkSafe BC at every step of the process. This will ensure both a smooth transition for the worker, and accurate claim management.
Once a worker can perform the essential duties of their pre-injury position, it is the employer's duty to either re-instate them to the job they performed before the injury occurred.
Getting an injured worker back to work is a team effort, and as long as everyone works together, we will be able to keep British Columbians free from workplace injury, disease, and death.