Do you know what you should do if injured on the job? If you answered that you should always contact your Human Resources Office immediately to report the injury, then you are correct! HR is your best resource and will instruct you as to what forms you need to fill out.

I remember one instance where our building was evacuated due to a hazmat spill at a large facility next to ours. We were all herded out into the parking lot for awhile and then when they determined it was safe and the hazmat team was handling the spill we were allowed to re-enter our building.

Being sensitive to odors, I had felt dizzy outside and for a bit after returning to my office. No one else seemed to be bothered. As a Benefits Specialist, I knew exactly what to do! I pulled out the Federal Office of Workers Compensation claim form, completed it and sent it to my supervisor. I didn’t need to go to the doctor or go home and felt better later in the day.

So why did I file the claim? To protect myself! Let me explain.

If you are injured on the job, whether it is a slight sprain from picking up files, or a bang on the head from climbing under your desk to get the pen you dropped, you need to file the claim. Not filing the claim can hurt you if you end up with a residual issue from the original injury. Sure, you might feel great at the end of the day, but what if you get home and then a severe headache comes on and it later turns out you have a concussion and need 2 days of bed rest? If you accrue sick leave as part of your benefits package, then you can use that to cover your days off. If you do not accrue sick leave, you will not be paid for those bed rest days.

I know that some employees might be reluctant to file a claim and think they’ll be labeled as a trouble maker. Keep in mind though that Workers Compensation coverage is a benefit of your employment, just like paid vacation. Some claims become just a claim number with no payments for medical or leave, while others allow you to go to the doctor and not have to make a payment or use your insurance. Still others may become very thick files with copies of medical notes from the doctor, surgeries, approvals, letters and are kept open until it is determined the employee is recovered. There are both traumatic injuries (occurring during one work shift) and occupational injuries (occurring over the course of multiple work shifts).

Whatever the case, be sure to work with your supervisor and the HR office if you are injured. All supervisors are trained in how to handle workers compensation claims and to partner with HR for assistance. Claims examiners are the experts, so document all information to make their job easy and have your claim accepted. Follow the process and be aware that you can also challenge a denial. Keep a detailed file with copies of your medical reports and payments. I remember several times having to write letters to my claims examiner because they had not paid a provider after allowing the service and my detailed records allowed discrepancies to be corrected. So make sure to file a claim, and when it’s accepted, you will be paid for any days off.

What has your experience been with reporting an injury?