The majority of injured workers are back on the job within four days.
The longer an injured employee is off the job, the more it costs your company and the less likely the employee will return to work, so one crucial goal of any Workers Compensation Insurance program is to keep injured workers on the job or to get them back to work as quickly as possible.
Here are two time-tested strategies you can use to get your injured workers back to work ASAP:
1 - Communicate
You should begin discussing your Workers’ Compensation program when an employee is hired. Most employees don’t understand how a WC program works or what is expected of them if they file a claim. Letting them know there is a process in place and that there are certain expectations from the start, can help save a lot of headaches down the road.
All new employees should be given a brochure about your Workers Compensation program including the following information:
- How medical treatment is provided
- How and who will pay the bills
- Your company’s return-to-work (RTW) process
The brochure should clearly state that there will always be an investigation following an accident, that the employer wants the injured employee to return to work as soon as possible, and that they will not be punished for getting hurt.
That same brochure or an abbreviated version should be given to the employee when they are injured, so they have a step-by-step guide for the process. These brochures can help injured workers understand the process and allow them to become engaged in their recovery.
However, it isn’t enough to simply hand an injured employee a brochure. One of the most effective ways to get an injured employee back to work is through direct communication. There’s a good chance that employee is confused or overwhelmed and may feel alone in the process. You need to let them know that they are not alone and that you have their best interests at heart.
A supervisor or manager that the injured employee knows and trusts should call the worker the day the injury occurs or the following day at the latest. Let them know that you’re sorry they were hurt and ask them how they’re doing. Let them know that they are a valued employee, and you want to get them back to work as soon as they are able. Let them know what to expect and what they need to do and answer any questions they may have.
Then there should be weekly conversations to monitor the employee’s progress. A get-well card can help too.
2 - Create a Designated List of Health Care Providers
The WC laws in each state are a little different, but in Pennsylvania, employers have the right to establish a list of designated health care providers that injured employees can use for 90 days from the date of the first visit. If an employer does not have a list of selected providers, provide written notice of the injured employee’s rights and responsibilities, and properly post the list, injured employees can go to the physician of his or her choice.
The advantage of having injured employees stay within your designated network of medical providers is that you can choose physicians who are well versed in occupational health issues. These physicians will understand that getting an injured employee back to work is not only in the best interest of the employer but also the employee. Research has shown that most people recover and heal faster if they are participating in productive activities rather than becoming a couch potato.
Here are some requirements for a designated list of health care providers from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry:
- The list must contain at least six providers
- Three of the six providers must be physicians
- No more than four providers may be coordinated care organizations
- Each provider’s name, address, telephone number and area of medical specialty must be included on the list
- Listed providers must be geographically accessible and their specialties appropriate for the anticipated work-related medical problems of the employees
It's a Win-Win
A speedy transition from injury to return-to-work is a win-win situation and doesn’t need to be complicated. If you clearly communicate your WC and RTW processes and expectations with all employees from the start, regularly communicate with an injured employee, and show concern for the well-being of your injured worker, you’ll be able to get him or her back to work more quickly.
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