After a recent incident at work, I thought it would be time to write about something that no one wants to think about, and that is getting hurt at work.
Now getting hurt can and will happen no matter where you work, it’s part of life, and accidents do happen. For example, when I worked in a cemetery, I drove a metal rod into my back, causing lifelong pain and suffering. My tenure in shoes resulted in a blow to the head from a stack of plastic chairs (don’t ask) but nothing really more than that. As a field tester, I stepped in a gopher hole and broke my ankle, but only missed 4 days of work due to it.
In my current job, I have been injured three times, including an incident that happened just this January.
The first time i got hurt, involved putting a bale hook into my thumb, and bleeding all over the place, which required a trip to the clinic, where the wound was cleaned out, wrapped up, and a tetanus shot was issued. The second time involved something in my back giving out, which required x-rays and pills, and the day off. The last time was a bit more complicated and why if possible, one should never get hurt at work.
I was outside of the building and trying to put the garbage dumpsters back in the corral where they belonged and away from the alley behind us, in doing so, I slipped on ice and the dumpster hit me in the shoulder. Sadly, this injury was not as painful as what followed.
Me: So boss I got hurt, should I call the nurse line?
Boss: If you want to
Me: Isn’t it standard procedure to do so, just to make sure nothing is seriously wrong?
Boss: Well you do what you think is best
Me: So should I call then?
Boss: *crickets sound*
So I called the number posted on the bulletin board.
The number you have dialed has been changed, here is the new number, so I call the new number. Please listen to the following options:
Press 1 if you are the injured person.
Press 2 if someone is calling for you.
Press 3 if you are checking up on a claim.
Press 4 if you are adding to an existing claim.
Press 5 to hear these options again.
Press 6 if you are having doubts that this phone call is going to go well.
Finally I get a person on the phone and she asks me the following:
Address both work and home
Phone number, both work and home
My employee ID number
The time that the incident happened
How it happened
Why it happened
Should it have happened?
After playing 20 questions, she put me on hold only for another woman to come on and ask me the same questions adding to the list, my current age, and shoe size.
So I interrupted and asked whether or not I should go to the clinic to get checked. She told me that she was not authorized to make that decision, so I asked could I speak to someone who could make that decision, and I was informed that the person went home at 4:00 and it was now 4:25. I questioned how this would be possible seeing that this was a 24 hour nurses line and that though accidents never happen in a perfect world, they do occur after 4:00, so she told me to talk to my supervisor. My supervisor of course told me that if I could bear the pain that I should stay, so I did.
Now the real fun began. I had the day off and so I tried to take it easy, but the pain did not go away. Upon returning to work on Wednesday, I called the nurses line again and this is what followed:
Me: Yes I got hurt at work on Monday
Nurse: So do you want to report a claim?
Me: I already have a claim open
Nurse: Do you want to report another claim?
Me: No, I want to talk about the open claim
Nurse: Well what is your question?
Now it is at this time that I should mention that no one called me between the day of the injury and the second time I called, but they did call my boss who informed them that I had not gone to the doctor and so they were going to close my claim.
Me: I am wondering if I should go to the doctor
Nurse: Didn’t you go at the time of the injury?
Me: No, I was told that no one could authorize me to go
Nurse: Well you should have gone
Me: So should I go now?
Nurse: Yes go to the doctor and then call us back if you have any questions.
Okay, so I went to the doctor. I had to make sure that those in attendance knew that this was a workman’s comp situation. After doing so, I got checked over, got x-rays taken, received a prescription for pain pills, and got the next few days off of work with a return with restrictions note for my boss.
Okay, that should be the end of it, but it wasn’t. A few days after the event and after finding out that I had to pay myself for the missing days of work from my banked sick time, I received a bill for the x-rays to the tune of $300+ dollars. So I called the doctors office, to make sure that they knew it was a workman’s comp claim and that I should not be receiving a bill.
In the meantime, I called the phone of the representative who had been assigned to my case. It went straight to voicemail. I responded to his initial email with no response, so I called him again, and once more straight to voicemail. So I went to the claims website and typed in my number and there was no claim on file. So I talked to an automated person and was told that I should call his supervisor and she gave me the number, which I did, and you guessed it, straight to voicemail.
While the injury still lingers, what bothers me more is the fact that no one wanted to go out on a limb and have me visit the doctor in the first place, only to reprimand me for not doing so in the second place, only to send me a bill in error and ignore all future conversations and questions that I might have regarding my accident.
So what did I learn from all of this? First and foremost, do not get hurt at work, just rub some dirt on it, walk it off and pretend as if nothing happened, because that is exactly what everyone else is going to do in regards to your case and situation.
Cover image courtesy of Fernando de Sousa via Flickr