Farming is a dangerous business. Every day, 100 agricultural workers suffer lost-work-time injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 258 farmers, ranchers and other agricultural workers died in 2017. While you hopefully never experience an employee death on your farm, it’s highly likely one of your team members will be injured on the job.
Having a plan can be invaluable in a crisis, says Charles Schwab, Iowa State University Extension safety specialist. “In the heat of the moment, you don’t want to be bogged down with ‘What should I be doing?’” he says. “It should be more instinctual, ‘We know this is what we need to do.’” In the event of an injury, take these steps:
1. Get Medical Attention for the Employee.
Ensuring the injured employee receives proper medical care should be the first step, Schwab says. “That could take the shape of many forms, but really what we’re looking for is getting to a place that can treat or resolve the injury at hand, whether that’s EMS or a doctor’s office,” he says. All farms should have an on-site first-aid kit that includes more than band aids, Schwab says. You should have supplies on hand to stop bleeding from a severed limb or a gunshot wound. Make sure every employee is capable of giving a 911 dispatcher directions to the farm over the phone. This is the No. 1 hurdle facing rural employers, Schwab says.
2. Investigate the Situation.
Once your employee receives care, investigate the scene of the injury. Interview witnesses, take photos and determine how the incident happened. Compile all that information into a written record of the accident, which you can share with your insurance company. This is an area where having a plan pays off. “Each insurance company will have different requirements for what kind of documentation they need to process a claim,” Schwab says.
3. Report the Injury.
This is a critical step for legal reasons, and it can reduce the cost of your workers compensation insurance. Delayed reporting can lead to a 51% increase in insurance costs, per a study by the National Council on Compensation Insurance. Each state has different rules for reporting employee injuries, so check with your insurance provider. This will help you understand the steps you’ll need to take.
4. Submit a Claim to Your Insurance Company.
While the employee will likely be required to claim their injury at the doctor’s office, it’s important to provide him or her with a workers’ compensation claim form. Your insurance policy might have a filing deadline. “It really comes down to knowing what your provider requires ahead of time,” Schwab says.
5. Work with the Employee on a Re-Entry Plan.
The employee’s medical team will guide them how quickly they can return to work. Create a plan with the injured employee and the remainder of your team to cover the employee’s responsibilities until they return to work.
Find a list of what you should include in your farm’s first-aid kit at bit.ly/First-AidKits