How to create an effective return-to-work program

Posted in Business

Creating a safe work environment and preventing accidents is the key to protecting employees and avoiding costly workers’ compensation claims. But accidents happen, and it’s the steps you take afterward that determine the effect on your employees and your organization.

Use the tips below to help you design a Return-To-Work (RTW) program that helps reduce employees’ time away from the job and the costs associated with it.,/p>

  • Establish a relationship with medical providers who will take time to understand your business and will help facilitate the return to work. The odds of an employee returning to work early improve dramatically when there’s a medical arrangement in place as part of your RTW program.
  • Update job descriptions to reflect the physical requirements of the job. You could send various descriptions with the employee to take to his or her doctor’s appointment to help determine what tasks the employee is able to do.
  • An employee’s quick return to work is the biggest opportunity for cost savings from your RTW program. When a worker is given return-to-work opportunities — even if the tasks are limited — accident-related expenses are dramatically reduced and his or her work routine actually becomes part of therapy, paving the way for a faster, healthier recovery. Alternative work can be full- or part-time and should extend only until the injured worker is able to resume his or her former job.
  • Prepare for job modification before an injured employee has returned to his or her former job. Offers to return to temporary alternate work have the greatest potential for cost savings when they’re made in time to prevent a medical-only claim from becoming a lost-time claim. This could involve modifying an existing job, or combining tasks from others’ jobs.
  • Involve the injured worker in the discussions about alternative work. An employee who is “on board” will be more satisfied with the arrangement — and more productive on the job.
  • Allow recovering workers to ease into a full work schedule. Don’t push the employee to get back to full-time work before he or she is truly able. This could result in a disgruntled employee or one who is reinjured.
  • Be positive and flexible. Maintain a positive attitude toward the injured employee. This will improve the chances of a positive outcome and be appreciated by other employees as well.
  • Coach employees who will be working with the recovering employee. Tell them what the recovering worker’s duties are, how long the assignment will last, and how they can assist. Be sure to show appreciation for those efforts.
  • Spending money to adapt equipment today can save money tomorrow. Modifying your work site or equipment to accommodate an injured employee is a smart investment; it keeps the employee productive during recovery and reduces the likelihood that you’ll lose an experienced employee.

Did you know?
If no alternative work offer is made to a recovering employee that person may continue to receive two-thirds of his or her gross wages on workers ’ compensation benefits (and you may also have to spend money to hire and train a new employee).

The impact of the injured employee’s claim on the experience modification factor (Mod) could be significant and continues for the three years of the experience period.

If, for example, the increased experience modification factor causes the premium to rise by $2,000, you’ve incurred a $6,000 cost ($2,000 x 3 years).

On the other hand, if you can provide an alternative work arrangement, the employee continues to contribute to productivity and the likelihood of your Mod and premiums increasing are greatly reduced.

Control your losses
Loss Control services are available from carriers like Integrity Insurance, whose insight and expertise can help prevent losses that negatively affect your business. Integrity, for instance, has a team of experts who provide services like on-site inspections, job site surveys, safety program development and more, all designed to reduce the likelihood of accidents and injuries. By taking advantage of these services you can improve morale, reduce turnover, and reduce expenses. The actual steps in your Return-To-Work program will depend on your organization. To learn more about designing an effective program, contact your local independent insurance agent.


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