Timely Accident Reporting
Timely reporting of employee injuries is of utmost importance—a delay in reporting…may delay medical treatment to the employee, possibly aggravating the injury, extending the pain or discomfort, and delaying a return to work extends the window of opportunity for similar injuries to other staff members if the injury was caused by a defective physical object or condition or by an inadequate or missing protocol:
- Delays training or other corrective action needed to prevent future harm to the involved employee if the injury resulted
from employee misjudgment or error.
- Delays involvement of the case manager and adjuster which increases claim costs—the graph above illustrates the
increased costs (national averages) for untimely claims reporting.
- Impacts the experience modification rating factor because of the increased claims cost, ultimately increasing the
cost of Workers’ Compensation insurance.
- Potentially violates state laws / incurs fines – all states have statutory requirements.
- Regarding reporting of employee injuries to the insurance carrier and/or to the Workers’ Compensation commission; many have fines for delayed reporting (your Redwoods’ Risk Consultant can review your state’s requirements and potential fines with you).
Accident reporting timeliness for our Workers’ Compensation program has been disappointing:
- One third of all incidents have not been reported to us a full week after the injury.
- Nearly 10% of the incidents have not yet been reported to us after 30 days.
There are two possible sources of reporting delays: the employee and the organization. Though the delay is usually assumed to be caused by the employees, they reported a higher percentage of injuries:
- By the end of the first day than the organization did in the first three weeks.
- In the first week than the organization did in the first two months.
The greatest source of injury report delays is in the system—either the reporting protocols that are in place or lack of
compliance with those protocols. Compliance itself is moot without proper protocols so the latter must be targeted and specific. It is prudent to eliminate reporting lag time, since it has a direct impact on claims cost, and, via the
experience modification factor, affects the overall cost of insurance. Both pre- and post-injury protocols should be established—both are important, but history has clearly shown that the impact has come from lack of post-injury
protocols or lack of complying with post-injury protocols.
- The message, “we care about you and your fellow employees—report injuries immediately so you can get care if
needed, and so we can ensure safe conditions and protocols for every employee” should be communicated clearly and frequently.
- Immediate reporting of work-related injuries should be part of the employee safety responsibilities that are communicated to staff—failure to report should be a defined infraction of safety rules.
- Employees should report any workrelated injury immediately. Without that knowledge you can do nothing—all intentions and protocols remain unengaged.
- Supervisors should investigate every injury as soon as reasonably possible after being notified. After visiting where
the injury occurred, reviewing the full sequence of events, and determining the nature and cause of the injury, the
accident report should be completed and forwarded to the individual responsible for employee injury reporting. This
responsibility should be fulfilled as soon as possible. It is a high priority, preceded only by rendering first aid, arranging transportation for the seriously injured, or correcting crucial exposures to prevent further injury.
- When the accident report is received, the person responsible should:
- Review it;
- Contact the supervisor if there is any missing, incomplete, or inconsistent data;
- Gather all the information needed to complete state and federal forms from the employee’s personnel file;
- Prepare and forward a First Report of Injury (FROI) to the insurance company by email, fax, or on-line data entry;
- Log the injury or illness into the OSHA 300 and, if necessary, complete an OSHA 301. Completing and forwarding a FROI to the insurance carrier should be done the same day as the accident report was received.
- A causal investigation should be conducted soon after any work-related injury. Although it is not needed for the
report to the insurance carrier, it should be part of the supervisor’s investigation of the accident and should evaluate both
the process in which the employee was involved and the employee’s actions.
- The process should be reviewed to ensure that it did not contribute to the injury. Your employees cannot work safely if the procedures themselves are unsafe.
- Employee’s actions should be reviewed to ensure they followed the procedures given. Your employees cannot be safe if they do not know or do not follow the defined protocols.
- If applicable, action should be taken to correct the deficient protocol or inappropriate action. Safe protocols, thorough and timely training, and adherence to procedures prevent injuries.
Injuries to staff are demoralizing and costly. Late reporting of injuries to the insurance company makes the experience even worse because it increases claim costs, which raises the experience modification factor and thus impacts an organization's insurance costs for a three-year block of time. Some states even have fines for late reporting. Because most of the delay is from
lack of adequate reporting protocols or not adhering to existing protocols, your organization is uniquely positioned to control those costs—you and you alone can implement the changes necessary to prevent elevated claims expense caused by delayed reporting.