So how do you protect your business and ensure the health and safety your injured employee?
Your policy should clearly define the process which needs to be undertaken should any of your employees sustain an injury outside of work hours.
The documented process and policy should include the following:
- All employees are required to notify their direct manager as soon as is reasonably possible after the injury occurs.
- The manager should advise their employee not to attend work until further information and advice is obtained.
- A document should be created which clearly outlines all duties the employee would reasonably be expected to undertake during the course of a day. Use their position description as a guide but don’t forget to add things that may not be included in a PD such as bending on a regular basis, lifting up to 10kgs, using repetitive arm movements etc and so on. The purpose of this document is to assist a medical professional to determine whether the person is able to perform part or all of their role without exacerbating their injury.
- Provide this document to the injured employee and ask them to book an appointment with their preferred medical practitioner (this might be a doctor or physio for example) (at their own expense). Advise the employee that you require their medical professional to indicate what duties they can safely undertake without risk of further aggravation to their pre-existing injury. The medical professional should also indicate what tasks they could safely undertake with modification (e.g. can lift but no more than 2 kgs, must have rest breaks every 15 minutes etc) and what duties they must NOT undertake. The document should be signed and dated by the attending medical person and their official stamp included.
- The document should be reviewed by the business owner as well as an OH&S rep, Safety Team Rep, HR or the employee’s direct manager to fully understand the employee’s capacity to return to work safely
2, Be aware of your obligations
Do you have to provide light or modified duties for your injured employee? The short answer is no. Where possible and reasonable and if it suits the needs of the business, you should try and accommodate their return to work, however if the employee is unable to provide real value to the business by returning in a reduced capacity, you do not have to provide them with modified or light duties. You are not required to ‘make up a job’ for them to do. If you are unable to provide suitable work the employee will be on leave and be required to utilise their accrued leave entitlements.
Before allowing the injured employee to return to work, they should be asked to provide the business with a full medical clearance from their medical professional advising they have no restrictions. Use the document provided for the initial assessment.
Remember, if the business is able to provide the injured employee with modified duties, their restrictions must be clearly understood by their direct manager. Where possible, the employee should be supervised to ensure they do not try to undertake any of their restricted duties, even if they have the best intentions.
3. Don’t ‘set and forget’
Regular reviews by the employee’s medical practitioner should continue until they are provided with a full medical clearance. It’s important that you continue to follow a through process until the employee returns to work at full capacity. Even then, we recommend checking in a few weeks on to ensure they are comfortable and able to perform their role safely.
4. Train your managers!
As a business owner there are certain things you need to be in control of. Managing an injured employee does not need to be one of them, as long as you have a clear and transparent process in place and you have trained your managers! Providing training and information to your front line leaders ensures that not only will they understand the importance of managing injured employees properly, they will assist you in managing the risks in the business, improve their awareness of safe work practices and legal obligations and generally contribute to your business in a more meaningful way – we’re all about sharing information and upskilling your people!
There are lots of employer obligations that as a business owner you need to comply with and they are all important. However, it is super important for you to know that your main obligation, and the obligation to adhere to this actually does overrule all others, is to provide a safe working environment for your employees, including the person who may be injured! Returning a person to work without being diligent about their abilities could lead to harming themselves or someone else…….
If you need help with understanding how to manage an injured employee, call or email the team at HR Staff n’ Stuff and we’ll ensure you are on the right track to protecting your staff and your business!