Having a return to work program is an essential step in maintaining a competitive edge in the work place. This is easy to sell to upper management because you can easily save up to 70% in insurance premiums. This in terms, saves money!
Lets start of by discussing what a Return to Work Program is. These programs are often referred to as light duty or restricted duty. This can happen if an employee is injured and cannot continue doing the same job or a duty that is normally in that employees job description.
The goal of a Return to Work Program is to get the injured employee back to work as soon as possible after an injury. In my eyes it is better to get that employee in to work instead of sitting at home and watching Court TV all day. This does not require a lot of skill or even having a dedicated staff member to coordinate this work.
The first thing you need to do is go down to the medical clinic that you would normally use and meet with the staff, especially the office manager and the Dr./RN. Build a working relationship with them. Talk with them about your company and what you do or what you make. Discuss things like work procedures, equipment onsite, & how many employees you have. Talk with them about your goals to start a Return to Work Program and their role in your program. Make sure that patient care remains the top priority but you would like to keep a goal of getting the injured employee back to the job as soon as possible. Let them know that your company is committed to accommodating any injury that could be assigned to the employee.
Some things that he company must acknowledge is the common types of “light duty”. This could include lifting restrictions, standing for limited periods, seated work, limited use of a limb, or even wheelchair use. This is the most important way to control the cost of a workers compensation claim.
Keep in mind that your company already has a lot of jobs that could be considered for an injured worker coming back to work, that’s the beauty of this program. consider the following jobs:
- security guard
- safety inspector
- inspecting equipment like fire extinguishers or power tools
- tool room
- fork lift driver
- light cleaning
- installing signs / banners
- answering phones
- washing company vehicles/equipment
- replenish first aid kits
- update training records
- office clerk / copy materials
- conduct training
- sort and ship mail
- pick up and deliver materials
- drive company guest/ clients
- update safety manuals/ SDS logs/ Evacuation plans
- estimate work
One thing to consider is that you may be able to modify the employees current job to accommodate an injury and is often the best thing for the employee and for the company.
Remember, smaller companies often resist returning injured employees to light duty because they claim that light duty jobs are not available. But you can now see how easy it is to get them back to work.
Bringing an injured employee back to work not only reduces workers compensation costs, but it also speeds up recovery and improves worker moral. It also gives the injured employee an opportunity to continue working with a minimum impact from lost wages and waiting for workers compensation to start.