When your employees suffer an injury or illness on the job, a return-to-work (RTW) program allows them to return to their job duties as soon as medically appropriate. Although they might not be able to return to work at their full capacity right away, a RTW program allows them to return through light-duty, temporary assignment within the business, or other accommodations. You might be surprised to know that this kind of RTW program can help injured workers recover faster and more efficiently. Let’s look at why and how.
How Costly Are Workplace Injuries?
According to the National Safety Council, 70 million days and $161.5 billion were lost due to work-related injuries in 2017. Effectively managing absences doesn’t just protect your business’s bottom line; it also helps improve both the injured worker’s recovery time and their chances of returning to work at all. This is particularly important, as research shows that the longer an injured worker is out, the less likely they are to return to work.
When considering an RTW program you may want to consider the three basic components below:
Three Key Basics of a Successful RTW Program
A successful RTW program should contain the following key components: high-quality care, holistic claims management, and access to resources and tools for empowered recovery.
- High-Quality Care. Above all, your injured worker’s health should be the top priority. You want your injured worker to have access to the right care at the right time. Priority care also includes access to full return to work. Talk to your workers compensation (WC) insurance provider who should help navigate the claims process and find medical providers who understand work-related injuries.
- Holistic Claims Management. You and your injured worker’s WC claims case manager or handler should be in regular communication. The more the case manager understands about the injured worker’s role, the more they’ll be able to help with healthcare providers, a rehab plan, and transitional work programs.
- Tools and Resources for Empowered Recovery. Keep in mind that transitions may be time consuming and require flexibility. Take the time to assess working conditions and make any necessary adjustments or changes before the injured worker returns. You may need to make a list of temporary or transitional roles if the injured worker will be unable to perform their previous job until more fully recovered.
Even if your resources are limited, being proactive can help ease productivity challenges during an employee’s absence. Another benefit is that an effective RTW program helps your business comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), which requires the reasonable accommodations of employees with disabilities—including disabilities from a work-related injury.
See the Helping Injured Employees Return to Work checklist for a step-by-step guide to helping injured workers get back to work. For other helpful workers compensation resources, talk with your independent insurance agent.
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