What Immediate Steps Should I Follow if I'm Injured on the Job?

Whether you spend your day at a desk, stocking shelves, or braving high seas in the open ocean, accidents happen. Even if you’re careful, and even if your employer is diligent about safety, you can easily join the three million Americans who experience work-related illnesses and injuries every year. So if an accident happens to you, what should you do?

Dr. Stanley Mathew at American Rehabilitation Medicine in Cedar Rapids, Iowa can guide you through the process and make sure you’re treated with professional care, respect, and dignity. Workplace injuries, like any injury, can be either minor or serious, but unlike an accident that happens at home, there are certain steps you need to follow.

Seek first aid

You may think your office space is harmless, but a ripped carpet causes trips, boxes fall off shelves, and equipment malfunctions. Even repetitive movements and loud noises pose a threat to your physical health. The National Safety Council reports that someone is injured on the job every seven seconds in this country, so clearly your “safe” office is not exempt from accidents. 

If you trip and fall, pull a muscle while lifting, cut your hand with a letter opener, or slip on the deck of a shrimp boat, the first thing to do is practice common sense first aid.

Clean your wound and bandage it. Immobilize injured limbs. Apply an ice pack to sprains and strains. And get to an ER if the injury is too serious to handle yourself.

Tell your supervisor

In the state of Iowa, as in all states, you’re entitled to workers’ compensation if you’re injured on the job or because of your normal duties. Employers are required to provide benefits to their employees who get hurt at work, so don’t worry about whether they can afford it or whether you have rights — they can and you do.

Here in Iowa, the law states that you must report your injury to your supervisor within 90 days of the incident or from the day you recognized your injury. In some cases, your injury may not have an actual start date, as it does with a fall or a cut. For example, hearing loss that’s caused from your workplace environment may be eligible for workers’ compensation, but this is a gradual condition whose start date can’t be pinpointed. 

Document it

If your work-related injury or illness causes you to miss three or more days on the job, your supervisor must fill out and submit an Employer’s First Report of Injury with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. This protects your rights moving forward in case you have medical needs and will require wage compensation in the future.

It’s also a good idea to talk to your coworkers who may have witnessed your accident so you have reliable corroboration. 

Seek medical attention

Obviously, broken bones, lacerations, and other serious injuries need immediate medical attention. But even seemingly minor injuries and illnesses should be checked out as well. There are many situations that have delayed symptoms or no symptoms at all. For instance, chemical contamination or blows to the head may seem like no big deal, but you may get sick later and not know what caused it. Dr. Mathew can monitor your condition and make valuable connections between your accident and your future health.

The number of illnesses and injuries that you could possibly encounter at work is nearly endless, but Dr. Mathew is triple-board certified and uniquely trained to treat a vast array of health conditions. He starts with a thorough examination and a full account of your experience, then uses the most advanced technology to diagnose and treat your unique symptoms. As an expert physiatrist, he specializes in electrodiagnostic medicine and can detect problems with your muscles and nerves that others might miss. 

If you’ve experienced a work accident or illness, call 319-369-7331 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Mathew or request an appointment online. No matter how small or big the problem, no matter whose fault it was, Dr. Mathew can help you navigate your health and your rights. 

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