How to Speak up When You’re Hurt at Work


If you’re naturally introverted, you might characteristically go about your job and scarcely speak up unless answering a direct question. However, when you’re injured at work, being assertive by letting someone know what happened is a necessity. Otherwise, you might end up with an untreated injury that’s more severe than you first realized.

There are several reasons why people feel nervous about telling their supervisors they’ve been hurt, including:

  • A fear that people won’t believe the injury claim
  • Uncertainty about whether their supervisors will care and take appropriate action
  • Being under the impression they may lose their jobs or be subject to disciplinary action by disclosing their injuries
  • Worry about the lost income they could be subjected to if their supervisors ordered them to stay home to recover
  • Thinking fellow coworkers might feel jealous if the injuries require them to take time off work, but are eligible for worker’s compensation

These stresses are all compounded if you’re very quiet and tend to go about your business without wanting to bother anyone. By following some actionable steps, it should be easier to keep your head clear and feel more confident about letting a superior know what happened.

Know Your Company’s Policy for Reporting Injuries

Most companies have specific guidelines in place that instruct people how to file reports about being hurt at work. Unless the business has fewer than 10 employees or is part of an industry that’s considered exempt, it’s required to report accidents on a particular form to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).

If you’re not aware of the policy that applies to your workplace, getting educated offers a good opportunity to become more comfortable with being assertive. One easy thing to do is to speak up after getting some safety-related information at work. Simply say something like, “I think it’s great that you offer such clear instructions so everyone knows how to operate that piece of machinery safely. Out of curiosity, is there a procedure in place for reporting workplace accidents?”

At the very least, you’ll learn something new that might come in handy for yourself or someone else. Plus, your decision to ask a question benefits everyone within earshot who also might need to know the answer but didn’t make that fact known.

Notify the Appropriate Person Immediately

As soon as the injury occurs, communicate with the designated individual who can help you file an accident report. If the injury is so severe that you are unable to notify that person yourself, send someone to do it for you. On the other hand, if you apparently aren’t badly hurt, you may be tempted to finish your shift before notifying someone about what happened. It’s essential to speak up about your injury right away rather than waiting.

The timing of the accident is usually a crucial part of filling out an accident report. If you wait for days or even weeks before letting a supervisor know about the injury you’ve suffered, there’s a good chance you’ll be asked to provide a valid reason for your delay.

Be Aware of Your Average Income

If the injury requires you to receive worker’s compensation payments, the amount you get is calculated based on the amount you earn. Laws vary by state, but in Pennsylvania, injured workers should receive 66 ⅔% of their average gross weekly wages through compensation payments.

Eventually, you’ll get a calculation from the worker’s compensation insurance company that describes the amount of compensation you’ll periodically get while recovering from your injuries. Check the form carefully and assertively tell your workplace if a mistake has been made. If you know the portion about your earnings isn’t accurate, it may be necessary to confirm the discrepancy by showing pay stubs to your employer.

Fill out the Accident Form Thoroughly

When officially documenting the injury, you may feel very timid about describing the extent of your injuries, and possibly even be tempted to downplay what happened. However, doing anything except providing an honest, full and accurate account of what occurred could negatively affect your ability to get compensation.

You’ll also probably need to list the associated medical treatments you’ve received, if applicable. Be sure to follow your employer’s instructions about whether you must only get treatment from particular healthcare providers.

Document How the Accident Has Affected Your Ability to Work

When following up your worker’s compensation claim, make sure to keep records that discuss how being hurt has adversely influenced your ability to do your job. It may be appropriate to focus on factors such as:

  • Whether it takes longer than normal to do certain things
  • If you experience pain that didn’t occur before you got hurt
  • Whether the pain has worsened, moved or otherwise changed since the accident
  • How it’s become necessary for you to take more rest breaks than usual because of the injury

By providing those kinds of details, you’ll be able to give evidence to your workplace about how your life has been since getting injured. In the same way it’s essential to be truthful and thorough when documenting the injury, don’t leave out pertinent details when describing how the injury impacts your life.

Informing superiors about getting hurt at work is something that can cause even the most self-assured workers to feel uneasy. If you’re so anxious that you think it’d be better to keep quiet, reshape your perspective by remembering how your decision to disclose injuries promptly should make it easier to get the required treatment so you can get back on your feet as soon as possible, and hopefully not suffer any long-term effects.

About Sarah Landrum

Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks, where she shares advice on creating a career you love and are successful in. Her writing has appeared on The Muse, Levo, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Business Insider and has earned her a title as one of the top Career Experts to Follow by ICS. Subscribe to her newsletter for exclusive tips on growing your career and finding happiness in your career and life.

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