Regardless of the number of individuals you employ, your company can benefit from a return-to-work program. While preventing injuries is the best way to control your workers compensation costs, when injuries occur you need a plan in place to ensure your employee gets prompt medical care and then is able to return to work as soon as medically possible. A return-to-work program can help you accomplish these goals. The following is a brief outline of how you can implement your own return-to-work program.
Establish a return-to-work team. It is recommended that your workers compensation coordinator serve as the coordinator of the return-to-work team. A well-rounded team should include members who represent each of the following groups: human resources, safety personnel, management, employees, medical staff, and the employee union.
Identify transitional productive work. Once you have completed a job assessment for each position, you can begin identifying transitional tasks that are appropriate for employees who have been injured and are unable to perform their regular duties for a period of time. Creating modified positions will allow employees to return to work sooner than they would have been able to otherwise. Ask employees and supervisors to assist in identifying tasks that are not physically demanding but that are safe, meaningful, and productive.
Create a written return-to-work program. Involve employees in the development of the program and communicate the final plan to the entire company and any others involved in ensuring its ultimate success. Your written program should include the following:
- Policy statement identifying your return-to-work philosophy and your commitment to the program. The policy statement should also stress the importance of injury prevention with safe operations, your goal to ensure immediate medical care, and the desire to return injured employees to work as soon as possible.
- Procedures your employees, supervisors, and return-to-work coordinator will need to employ from the time an employee is injured through the time they return back to work.
- Identification of responsibilities of the injured employee, the supervisor, the health care provider, your return-to-work coordinator, and your insurance company.
Conduct a job assessment. List each position at your company and identify the activities required by that position. Also list the physical demands and environmental conditions of each activity. One of the benefits of the job assessment is that it will help you identify unsafe aspects of the job so you can make modifications to prevent future injuries.
Create a written offer for employment and a written transitional productive work agreement. If you have an employee who is injured and who needs to return to work with modified duties, make a bona fide (valid) offer of employment and provide a written agreement that includes a description of their transitional work duties and an acknowledgement of their doctor’s medical restrictions.
A well-planned and thoroughly-implemented return-to-work program can be very beneficial to both the company and the injured employee. If you have any questions about implementing this type of program, please contact your Leavitt Group insurance advisor.