What to Do If You’re Injured at Work
For many of us, our jobs are a safe space where we go for eight hours to be productive members of society before coming home to our loving families. However, accidents can happen, and if we are not careful, those accidents could turn into serious injuries. The good news is that we have several programs at our disposal that we can utilize in these unfortunate situations.
It is important to know your rights and which programs you should pursue if you are hurt on the job so you can protect yourself and your family. Read on for some helpful advice about what is available and how you can be prepared for being injured at work.
Understanding Common Workplace Injuries
The best way to prepare for and avoid injuries in the workplace is to educate yourself on some of the more common scenarios. Just because you may spend all day sitting at a desk, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be injured if you aren’t careful. Some of the most common injuries in an office setting are slips, trips, and falls. To avoid these, be cautious of loose cords, open drawers, and freshly mopped floors.
Be careful not to overexert yourself by reaching for poorly placed supplies and remember to take breaks and stretch your arms and hands if you are holding them in the same place for a long duration while using a keyboard and mouse. Always keep an eye on your surroundings. Watch for and try to avoid being struck by poorly stacked supplies on shelves and take notice and notify management of any trip hazards or unsafe chemicals that should not be sitting around.
We tend to glue ourselves to our office chairs while we are at work, but if they are not ergonomically correct, then they could be doing more harm than good. Talk to your office manager about acquiring chairs that have proper lumbar support and sit up straight in your chair to avoid back problems now and in the future. Adjustable desks that allow you to sit and stand while you work can do wonders to prevent discomfort and stress on your spinal cord.
How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
If an incident does happen at your office job, do not be afraid to ask about workers’ compensation benefits that could be key in your recovery. The most important thing to remember about filing a workers’ compensation claim is that it should be done as soon as the illness or injury occurs to avoid any red tape. It is also essential to keep in mind what workers’ compensation does not cover particular situations such as self-inflicted injuries, general stress, injuries that happen while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or any injuries that occur on the commute to work.
If you are hurt, the first step is to notify your employer and tell them how the injury happened, the pain you are experiencing, and the specific date and time of when it occurred. Be as detailed as possible when you report your claim as everything stated will be taken into consideration while an eligibility decision is made. Your employer will compile this information and then submit it to the insurance company.
Next comes the waiting. Once your claim is processed, you will either be presented with a payment offer for the medical and disability costs or the claim may be denied. Some reasons for denial could include anything from a late application to the employer disputing your version of events. If your request is declined, you will have the ability to appeal. You can also consult a worker’s compensation attorney for more information.
Think About Disability Insurance
While we don’t want to think about the possibility of being injured at work, accidents do happen, so be proactive before an incident occurs by having disability insurance. In essence, disability insurance is a safety blanket in the case that you are either temporarily or permanently unable to work as a result of an injury, and it is a helpful supplement to your social security benefits. It works like an insurance policy where you pay your monthly premiums and only use it if absolutely necessary.
There are two forms of disability insurance, short and long-term. Short-term disability is usually available as a benefit from your employer and is meant for recovery periods of three to six months. There are numerous pros and cons to short-term disability. In many cases, your employer will pay part or all of the premiums, and it is helpful for pregnant women who are unable to work after giving birth. However, the benefits often will not cover your full salary while you are off and the insurer may put your injury under a microscope, ensuring that it is legitimate before they begin paying out benefits, and that can take time.
Long-term disability is a policy that is meant to keep you afloat when you’re unsure when or if you will recover enough to return to work, even if that period lasts until your retirement. The extended nature of long-term disability is a major draw, along with the fact that the benefits are tax-free. If you are the primary breadwinner in your household, it is a good way to protect your family in case of long-term injury. Unfortunately, these policies come with expensive premiums that employers are not likely to assist with, plus, the premiums will increase as you get older as your risk for injury increases.
While we don’t like to think about the possibility of being injured at work, there are programs available to help put your mind at ease. In the end, the best solution is prevention, so be aware of workplace hazards so you can work your shift and go home safe and sound.
This guest post was authored by Brooke Faulkner
Brooke Faulkner is a writer, mom and adventurer in the Pacific Northwest. She spends her days pondering what makes a good leader. And then dreaming up ways to teach these virtues to her sons, without getting groans and eye rolls in response.