Injuries Happen You Need a Plan

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Everyone knows a serious work injury needs immediate medical attention, but who determines the seriousness of the injury or what kind of medical treatment to seek?

TRUE CASE

An employee is on a 16-foot ladder and notices an area just out of his reach that needs paint. Instead of climbing down the ladder, he leans out and braces himself against a down-spout. The down-spout gives way, and the employee falls/jumps approximately 12 feet, lands on his feet, then rolls backwards onto his rear end.

Our safety committee shows up to do the accident investigation. The employee complains about pain in his left buttock region. An ambulance is called, which transports him to the nearest emergency room.

The emergency room staff takes excellent care of the employee. There are no broken bones and no head wounds. He just complains that he is sore. But in order to make sure they have no liability, the emergency room staff runs $25,000 worth of tests to eliminate all medical issues. They release the employee with a diagnosis of a pulled muscle and tell him to follow up with his doctor in a week.

When this case happened, it made me wonder: Why was this employee transported to an emergency room to begin with? Could we have just taken him to the doctor? How can we manage costs while maintaining safety and quality medical attention for our employees? I found answers through a company called American Medical Response (AMR).

SAFETY RULES

The first thing to know about an accident that happens on the job is never transport an injured employee in your vehicle! If you get in an accident on the way to the hospital, you can be held personally liable for that employee’s further injuries. You want your employee transported in a safe way that doesn’t put you on the line for additional liability. For us, this is where AMR comes in.

As the local ambulance carrier in the Portland, Ore., area where my company is located, AMR responds to 911 calls. But besides emergency response, they also offer another service called Mobile Health Care.

Here’s how it works: When a non-life-threatening accident occurs, we don’t call 911. We call the AMR first aid hotline. The dispatcher at that hotline will triage the call, and if they determine it’s not a life-threatening emergency, they will send a non-emergency vehicle to the scene.

Once on scene they provide first aid. If they can’t handle the call in the field, they transport the employee to an occupational health care clinic of your choosing. They also pick up employees and drive them home or back to the jobsite.

Consider this example: An employee steps on a nail. It punctures his foot, and the call comes in that we have an employee injured in the field. We call AMR and head to the scene for the accident investigation.

AMR shows up, triages the employee, provides first aid by irrigating the wound and bandaging it, and informs the employee that he doesn’t need to go to the hospital. He does, however, need a tetanus shot. AMR arranges a time with the employee to administer the shot later at his home. The employee misses two days of work and comes back the following Monday. The cost to the company is two days’ pay to the worker. The incident is not reported to our workers’ compensation carrier, and we do not have to show a reportable accident against us.

CALCULATING THE COSTS

AMR Mobile Health Care Service has been a wonderful addition to our full safety program. In the year before we started using their service, we had two disabling claims that resulted in a total of 46 workdays lost and our insurance company paying out $25,869. In the first year after contracting their service, we had two nondisabling claims that resulted in no lost workdays. Our insurance company paid out $516, which we will reimburse, so we show a zero loss ratio.

The plan costs us about $50 a month and joining was one of the smartest things we did last year. I recommend it to any firm that has workers at jobsites and is interested in running an effective, cost-efficient business. APC


Kevin Weinmann is the president of Wein-mann Painting, Inc. This article was supplied by the Sherwin-Williams Company. Get more ideas for managing your business at sherwin-williams.com/painting-contractors or join the professional conversation on Twitter #SWPaintpros.

 

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