Accidents happen on the job-site. That’s inevitable. And when a worker is injured, the incident is even more devastating. Once the scene is assessed, the injured person cared for, and the claim filed, it is vital that employers continue to keep all lines of communication open. Here, two of our Builders Mutual experts—Leigh Ann Stroud, claims adjuster, and Colleen Sontag, assistant claims manager—address four key ways that business owners and general contractors can successfully handle post-claim communication.
- REACH OUT TO THE INJURED EMPLOYEE.
After the flurry of post-accident activity, it’s easy for employers to focus on getting back to business. But it is incredibly important that during those efforts you don’t neglect contacting the injured employee.* The worker, often isolated and in pain, could use the encouragement. It can be disheartening to feel forgotten, and the injured person can take it personally to be ignored, even unintentionally. So, reach out to see how they are doing and ask if they need anything. Even if you don’t speak directly with the employee, the fact that you made the effort matters. A lot.
Depending upon your business and your relationship with the injured worker, you may also consider finding a way to offer tangible help. Perhaps there are bills not getting paid—or a lack of food in the refrigerator. Could you help (either through the company or personally) with these needs? But even when monetary assistance isn’t an option, communication doesn’t cost anything. Just let them know you care. Doing so goes a long way toward maintaining connection and fostering a strong employer-employee bond.
- COMMUNICATE WITH COWORKERS.
A job-site accident is not only traumatic for the injured worker but also for his or her coworkers. Once the dust settles, the GC or supervisor must gather together workers to discuss the incident. Use the time as a safety-training opportunity. Ask how the accident could have been prevented, and work together to create proactive plans for avoiding another incident. Your Builders Mutual Risk Management consultant can also partner with you to work with your team on safety. That’s why we’re here.
If the accident caused a severe injury (or even a death), be sure to address the emotional and psychological impact it had on your team. Talk with your employees and be prepared to provide resources for anyone who may need counseling. Larger organizations could already have an Employee Assistance Program in place to deal with these scenarios; however, even smaller businesses may want to have a process in place to help employees cope with accident trauma. Even establishing a fund to cover a single counseling visit can go a long way in demonstrating support for your team.
- KEEP BUILDERS MUTUAL INFORMED.
Even though the claim has been filed, additional information about the incident may continue to come to light. If you or your employees hear anything about the injured worker or the circumstances surrounding the injury that could affect the case, contact your Builders Mutual claims adjuster. Sometimes, during lunch chatter, for example, you may learn that the injured employee is working on another job-site. Keep us informed, even if you believe it’s a minor thing. Equally vital is to let Builders Mutual know when your employee is back at work with you. Often the worker has been back on the job for weeks before that information is shared with us.
- ENSURE A POSITIVE RETURN.
When the injured employee does come back to the job-site, be sure to talk with him or her about the incident, discussing the same type of safety and preventative measures you covered with coworkers post-accident. Ask this important question: “What can you do differently next time?” Plus, be cognizant of any apprehension or fears the employee may have upon coming back to work. Chat about how best to transition to their job. Some people may want to jump right back into what they were doing, but others may feel the need to get into the swing of things more slowly. Of course, depending on the injury, there could also be physical limitations—not just emotional and psychological—that warrant a slower ramp-up. The key is to simply keep on talking.
If you have any questions at all—about the claim, the injury, the employee, or your team—you can always reach out to your agent or to Builders Mutual. Your Risk Management consultant, your claims specialists—all of us—are here for you. That’s what our partnership is all about.
*If the injured employee is represented by an attorney, be sure to avoid any discussion about the claim itself or any aspects of the accident.