What to Do If You Injure Your Back at Work
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, back injuries account for 20 percent of work-related injuries. In fact, only the common cold results in more missed workdays than back injuries. If you hurt your back at work, you need to take the right steps to protect your health and get the medical care that you deserve. Here’s what you need to do if you hurt your back at work.
1. Stop the Activity
When you feel pain in your back, you should stop whatever activity you are performing immediately. It can be tempting to continue working, especially if you’re under pressure to complete your duties. However, if you feel pain, you should stop doing what’s causing you pain. Take time to assess the situation. If you’re truly injured, you need to completely stop what you are doing and take the appropriate measures to protect your safety.
2. Get to Immediate Safety
Before you can begin to treat your back injury, you need to make sure that the scene is secure. You may need to tell coworkers to shut down machinery, remove equipment, and take other actions to prevent others from getting injured. Once you know the situation is safe, you can begin to assess and treat your injuries.
3. Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Immediate medical attention is critical. If you have emergency medical needs, you should be able to claim workers’ compensation that pays for the medical visit even if you don’t go to the employer’s preferred medical provider for emergency care. For follow-up appointments, you need to go to the treatment providers chosen by your employer. However, if you have emergency needs, you should be able to seek the most immediate care and have the bills covered through your company’s workers’ compensation program. If you have immediate care needs, you should seek emergency or urgent care as needed to protect your immediate health and safety.
4. Report the Injury Immediately
The company that you work for needs an accident or injury report. You must tell your supervisor that you’re hurt and request they make a report. The employer will ask you a number of questions about how the accident occurred and what you think your injuries are.
The injury report is the first step to getting your medical bills paid for. It’s also what you need to seek compensation for lost work. You should make the injury report as soon as possible to establish a timeline for when the injury occurred and to document the fact that it happened at work. Tell your supervisor that you got hurt and that you need to make an injury report.
5. Insist on a Written Report
Your employer might respond by telling you that you don’t need to make a written report. They might simply tell you that it’s okay that they took your report verbally. However, you should insist on making a written report. The purpose of making the report is creating a paper trail that verifies that the accident occurred along with verifying the basic details of how it happened and what your injuries are. Don’t let your employer refuse to create a written record because you need it to complete your workers’ compensation claim.
6. Get a Copy of the Injury Report
After you complete the injury report, take a copy with you right away. Your employer should make a copy for you for your records. It’s important to have your own copy so that there’s a verifiable record that you reported your injuries. When you make your injury report, have the person who takes the report give you a copy of the final written document. Then, there’s no question later about what you submitted for your report.
7. Follow Your Required Medical Care Plan
Getting workers’ compensation is a two-way street. Your employer has the obligation to pay expenses for medical treatment for work-related injuries. Your responsibility is to attend your medical appointments and follow your treatment instructions. If you’re ordered to rest, you need to rest. Failing to follow your medical care plan can be a reason that your workers’ compensation claim gets denied. Always attend your medical appointments and follow the instructions from your treatment providers.
8. Be Honest About Your Pain Levels
As you go through the treatment process, be honest about your pain. It can be tempting to minimize your pain levels, especially if that’s what you think your employer wants to hear. However, your medical providers need complete information to give you appropriate treatment for your back injury. Be sure to give your treatment providers honest information about your back pain.
9. Understand Your Plan for Recovery and Return to Work
Your medical care providers may create a plan for you to return to work after a back injury. It’s essential to understand your plan. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your care. You have the right to assistance from a workers’ compensation attorney to ensure that you get the workers’ compensation that you deserve.
10. Consider All Sources – Back Injuries May be Acute or Chronic
In other words, you can hurt your back from a single incident, or you can hurt your back through repeated activity. Even if you hurt your back because of repeated activity, you may still be eligible for paid medical treatment through your employer. In fact, a chronic injury can take a significant period of time to treat.
Be sure to follow all of the steps for what to do after a back injury at work even if the injury occurs over a long period of time. Your medical care providers can help you link your injuries to your work activities. Even if you first feel the pain of your back injury outside of work, there’s a possibility that it may still be a work-related back injury.
Taking the Right Steps After a Back Injury at Work
If you hurt your back at work, you have the right to medical care. To receive the compensation that you deserve, you must report the accident. It’s important to seek medical care and follow the treatment instructions that you receive from your care providers. Getting the medical care that you deserve and following your treatment plan can help you recover as quickly as possible to return to your work and your life pain-free.