7:37 am December 14, 2018

Creating a Strong Return-to-Work Program for 2019

Source: Brandon Johnson

As we all plan for 2019, it’s a great time to take a fresh look at workplace injury prevention programs, from prevention to return-to-work.  While injury prevention often holds the spotlight, an equally important aspect is a return-to-work program.

Without a strong and tightly defined return-to-work program, your company faces multiple risks and costs.  Employees may return to work too early and develop further injury.  Medical providers need to have a full understanding of the employee’s job to provide the best treatment and transition plan.  Your supervisors need to be clued into the plan and have expectations set or they may unknowingly provide pressure or confusion.

Components of a Strong Program

A recent article in Risk & Insurance, “4 Keys to a Solid Return-to-Work Program,” provides an overview of key issues presented by Bill Zachry, an experienced workers’ compensation professional and a senior fellow with the Sedgwick Institute, at the recent NWCDC conference in Las Vegas.  The article discusses these components:

  • Offering lighter or modified to workers recovering
  • Making sure the doctor, employee and supervisor are all on the same page with duties and limitations
  • Clear communication between stakeholders on the conditions of light duty and all aspects of their recovery
  • Creating tangible financial incentives for front-line managers and employees that will lead to a full recovery

How Onsite Services Strengthen Return-to-Work

Based on our experience with what’s works and what doesn’t for the past 28 years, we completely agree with this advice.  But we would also add one more component: considering an onsite services program.  Here’s why.

More companies are implementing onsite programs to prevent injuries because of the value in having a professional physical therapist (PT) right at the workplace.  The reason for its appeal is that PTs are both specialists in treating and preventing injuries, but they also are trained in facilitating everything mentioned above.  By being onsite and seeing the employee in the work environment, they can develop a more effective light duty plan.  These experts are also highly experienced at facilitating conversations between medical personnel, the employee and their supervisors, again with the advantage of being onsite and developing in-person relationships.

We hope these ideas will help you as you plan for 2019 and your return-to-work program.  If you’re curious about what type of service best fits your needs, WorkWell offers a data model (5 years of field testing, 70,000 visits) that can compare your data with industry results.  The model can pinpoint what you need and how to best use your budget.  For more information on the model or creating a return-to-work program, contact WorkWell today.

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