Summertime is Risky for Work Injuries and Short Term Disability Claims
Tips for Preventing Employee Summer Injury and Illness Claims
While most people are looking forward to the warmer and carefree days of summer, employers are bracing for an increased number of workplace injuries, which can trigger costly workers’ compensation and short term disability claims. Increased outdoor exposure to the elements, participation in summertime activities, and fewer people at work handling the same high number of tasks are all contributors to more illnesses and injuries during the summer.
Top Summer Injuries and Illness to Watch For
Here’s a running list of some of the top illnesses and injuries that happen often in the summer:
- Heat exhaustion and strokes from buildings heating up from summertime sun and higher UV rays
- Trips, falls, cuts, burns, and breaks from summertime activities like sports, fireworks, and travel
- Stress and injuries from indoor work tasks performed by remaining employees
- Food-borne illnesses and poisoning from increased outdoor activities and heat during the summer
It’s no wonder that companies see an increase in the amount of injury claims both on and off the worksite. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers are responsible for protecting workers from injury and illness while they are working. They provide helpful guidelines for preventing common summer issues, like heat exhaustion, but by using common sense, employers can take steps to reduce worker injuries.
It’s also important to note that employers must report to OSHA any and all accidents or illnesses that require medical treatment.
Employee Work Injuries and Illnesses are Bad for Business
When a worker is hurt or gets sick as a result of a work related issue, the worker’s compensation claim is generated to cover their medical care and recovery time.
If the accident or illness is not directly related to work, an employee may be entitled to short term disability benefits and even long term disability benefits. Either event is difficult for businesses because it means an employee may be out of work for as long as 12 weeks to 6 months on an approved leave.
There are ways to protect your company and workers from these problems. Below, you can find some simple ways to reduce worker injury and illness in the summer months.
Update Company Safety Policies and Benefits
Create workplace policies that foster employee safety for the entire year and develop some special warnings just for summer. Include a reminder of important safety measures for reporting potential hazards and correcting issues at work. Roll out and communicate company benefit programs that include wellness and safety initiatives, and encourage employees to get annual physicals.
Conduct a Workplace Safety Audit
Bring in an experience safety audit professional or ask the OSHA office to send someone in to conduct a thorough inspection of all work environments and equipment. If repairs need to be made to make the workplace more comfortable and safe for employees, take care of them as soon as possible.
Compare this year’s reports of injuries and illnesses to last year’s to spot any trends in the types of problems.
Keep an Eye on Weather and Condition Alerts
As a general rule, it’s always a good idea to stay abreast of vital weather and condition reports. This is especially true in the summer months when the heat index can reach record highs, and summer storms are in effect from tornadoes and tropical storms to hurricanes and flooding. Let employees know when it’s getting too hot to work, and provide cold drinks and water for all to reduce heat exhaustion. Make sure your company has an emergency business continuity plan to preserve the safety of all personnel.
Educate Employees on Personal Work Safety
While safety is something that all employers should educate employees about year-round, the summer months can be an opportune time to up the ante on safety education at work.
This makes employees become more self-aware of their habits on and off the job. Be sure to openly discuss the other related aspects of summer entertainment such as drinking, not getting enough rest, and stressing out over work tasks that can pile up. Share tips for safer work habits and how to report any hazards or injuries that may happen.
Develop a More Flexible Working Schedule
While the summer may also mean more people taking time off for vacations and travel, this can be a time when other workers need greater flexibility for family and personal activities. Make sure that all employees have enough support to complete their tasks without getting overwhelmed, and bring in interns or temporary staffers for larger projects, like inventory for example, that need to happen in the summer. Less stress equates to better performance without careless injuries and employees who don’t get sick from worrying so much.
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