Five Things to Include in Your Workers’ Comp Communication Policy

workers' comp communicationPart of managing your workers’ comp budget is reducing indemnity payments to your injured workers. There are a variety of reasons why some workers may not return to work as soon as they can, such as disagreements with the doctor’s recommendation, complications with treatment, and in some rare cases, employees simply trying to stay out of work.

 

 

Proactive Communication Improves Outcome & Limits Costs

 

Whatever the case, company administration must use proactive communication and monitoring of injured employees to ensure treatment is progressing well and the treating doctor has projected a return-to-work date. In cases of disagreements with either State workers’ comp claims or the doctor’s prognosis, help your employees to resolve these issues as quickly as possible. A quick resolution equals a quick return to work and limits your costs. Think: modified duty.

 

Some people may think — Why do I need to bother with such a plan, when the insurance company is paying off the claim?

 

The insurance company is paying the claim, but you still cover your deductible (or premium in guarantee cost). And, depending upon per incident costs, an employee suffering a moderate injury could cost as much as $35,000.00.

 

Take the approach of a well-informed and concerned employer concerned with both safety in the workplace, but also with the injured worker’s recovery and return to work after an injury. Weekly or monthly safety and work practices meetings help reinforce company policy and procedure for safe work related conduct and maintaining a safe work environment.

 

 

Five Things to Include in Your Workers’ Comp Communication Policy

 

Your communication policy as a part of your injury reporting and claims process must include:

 

  1. A first day phone call or visit to the injured employee.
  2. Communication with the doctor on prognosis, a reasonable treatment plan, and estimated date for a return to work.
  3. Documentation of every accident/injury.
  4. Investigate any claims raising “red flags” for potential fraud.
  5. Close communication with your insurance claims adjuster to make sure all claims are reviewed before processing.

 

By getting your employees back to work before the mandatory waiting period for indemnity payments, you reduce your claims costs and protect your profit margin. Suspicious claims should be thoroughly investigated and brought to the attention of your claims adjuster.

 

Injuries occurring without witnesses or off company property while the employee was on duty may be hard to investigate. However, failure to do so could easily cost the company a substantial amount of money. That is not to say all accident claims falling into these categories are false or attempts at fraud, but in the event they are, investigating helps you to protect the company by detecting them before they affect your bottom line.

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

4 Key Ways to Ensure Return to Work Programs Save Money

The longer an individual is off of work, the less likely he is to return. That fact is the overarching reason companies adopt return-to-work programs for their injured workers.

 

While most in the workers’ compensation world agree with the premise, there are myriad reasons many companies either have no or ineffective Return to Work programs. Small companies may think the money, time and resources involved don’t make financial sense for the number of injuries they typically have, or may be convinced there are just no ‘light duty’ jobs to offer injured workers. Some employers are uncomfortable paying the full salary of a worker who is not at 100 percent capacity. Still others have Return to Work programs in place but can’t see the benefits and let them fall by the wayside.

 

These ‘legitimate’ sounding reasons are, unfortunately, doing employers a disservice. RTW programs don’t need to involve massive amounts of money or personnel to be effective. There are alternative positions available for injured workers, even in companies without specific light duty jobs. Paying the full salary of a worker who is still recovering can save vast amounts of money compared to the alternative.

 

 

Why Return to Work

 

The longer an injured worker is off the job, the more money it costs the employer/insurer. Long durations can even turn into creeping catastrophic claims — a seemingly simple injury that involves multiple medical procedures and medications, and long-term disability.

 

Various studies have shown that Return to Work programs save money on medical costs, lost time days — including medically unnecessary ones, and workers’ compensation costs. Good programs reduce the duration of claims and the large indemnity costs associated with them. They also cut the number and costs of lawsuits; and wage replacement costs; and productivity losses.

 

Return to Work programs also help the injured worker recovery faster. Research clearly shows that, except for the most catastrophically injured, people who are at least somewhat active and engaged recover physically faster than those who are sedentary.

 

Finally, returning an injured worker in any capacity helps not only lift his spirits, but the morale of his coworkers. It shows the employer cares about them and wants to help them return to work.

 

 

Effective Return to Work Program Components

 

The first order of business in setting up a Return to Work program is to look at the specifics of the company to create a program targeted to its specific needs. See if there are patterns within the company. For example, how many injuries does the company typically have at any given time? Do some facilities have more injuries than others? Do certain jobs have more injuries? Working with managers and supervisors can help.

 

Benchmark a company’s workers’ compensation stats against others in the industry also can help. Small companies can turn to their insurer or third-party administrator for help.

 

Supervisors, managers, the insurer or TPA, physicians, and any others should be involved in putting together a Return to Work plan. It should include the following:

 

  1. Day 1. Begin the Return to Work process as soon after the injury occurs as possible. Stress that you want to help the injured worker return to work as soon as possible, and make sure others in contact with him continue the message “you are a valued employee and we want you back to work”.

 

  1. Communicate the plan. Every employee in the organization should be familiar with the Return to Work plan; whom to call with an injury, what the procedure is, and who has responsibility for different aspects of the post-injury response. Employees should understand that there is a specific, consistent plan in place following any injury, and that the goal is returning the person to work. When an injury does occur, provide additional information to the injured worker — such as what to expect, when and from whom.

 

  1. Light duty jobs. Nearly every company has tasks that are consistently put on a back burner; mundane activities that don’t necessarily directly impact the bottom line but could make things easier and more efficient. Injured workers are perfect for those types of tasks, as long as they are within medical restrictions. Engage the injured worker in the discussion, as he might have some thoughts. Working with the insurer, TPA or others within the same field might also trigger some ideas.

 

If there really is nothing available, consider sending the worker to a nonprofit organization — in states where that is allowed. Doing so will reduce indemnity costs, and help the company’s image in the community.

 

Once a light duty position is identified, set a deadline for it to end (maximum 120 days) and require regular medical reviews to see when the worker could return to his regular job on either a full- or part-time basis.

 

  1. Right providers. Medical vendors are a key part of the Return to Work process, so they must be fully aware of and engaged in it. They need a detailed, accurate job description immediately following an injury. They should focus on what the injured worker is able to do, rather than what he cannot do. And he should be committed to returning the injured worker to work.

 

In urban areas, there are likely occupational medical providers available. After vetting them, they should be included in the network and spend time learning the company’s cultural. In more rural areas, it may be necessary to find and educate nearby physicians.

 

 

Conclusion

 

A Return to Work program is a cost saver, not a cost driver and should not be considered a luxury only in good times. A well thought-out Return to Work plan can save significant dollars for an organization. They just need to be developed, implemented and maintained.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

First Step to Make Unions A Significant Asset to Return to Work

Hey there, Michael Stack here, CEO of Amaxx and founder of the Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. I run a virtual company. I write a blog. I sell our books. I do virtual training and consulting. What that allows me to do and my family to do is have some flexibility as far as our location of where we live and work. Now our home is in Kennebunkport, Maine, but for this summer and actually last summer as well, we’ve spent the summer living and working in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. While it’s a little bit of a challenge uprooting and settling into a new office and settling into a condo, etc, for that time, the reason that we do it is that it gets us out of our own way. It gets us out of our own paradigms and beliefs to take a look at our routines and assess what it is that we want to keep moving forward as we start the new school year and what are those things that we just do just because we do them. Being in this different environment allows that perspective in order for us to really make those changes. It’s been incredibly valuable for us and also enjoyable to enjoy this new space.

 

 

Unions Can Be Significant Asset to Return To Work

 

In workers’ compensation, one of the most commonly held beliefs is that return to work in a union environment is difficult if not impossible to be successful. I want to challenge you today to take a look at that paradigm, that belief, from a different perspective, because a union environment, while it might not be that easy to get corrected, there are some challenges and some steps you need to go through, can be one of the biggest assets to success in worker’s compensation. The first place to start on this, you need to know where you stand initially. I want to have you review two things for you to get that understanding of where you’re starting so that you can now put those pieces in place to start to mend that relationship and work together as a partnership rather than against each other.

 

 

Review Collective Bargaining Agreement

 

First thing that I want you to have you look at is your collective bargaining agreement. What does it say in regards to return to work? Now many collective bargain agreements will address this point specifically in regards to transitional duty or temporary jobs or modifications of jobs. There are many though however that won’t address this point at all. What you need to do in that scenario is take a look at what the precedent is. What has been done? What is typically done at your organization with your union in regards to return to work? That’s step number one.

 

 

Examine Leadership Beliefs

 

Step number two then is you need to look at the beliefs of your senior leadership and the leadership of the union. What are those commonly held beliefs and paradigms that they exist in in regards to return to work with this employment and union relationship? It may be that one side believes something about the other that just isn’t true. We’ve seen that happen many times over. Once you can get that understanding of where you stand, then you can start to mend that relationship and work together towards being successful. I hope this challenge for you today comes to fruition, that you can look at your union relationship as the potential for being a significant asset to return to work rather than being difficult or impossible. Again, I’m Michael Stack with Amaxx. Remember your work today in workers’ compensation can not only save significant work comp dollars, but it will dramatically impact someone’s life, so be great.

 

Learn more: How to Execute Successful Return to Work with Unions

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, Principal, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

Follow 8 Steps to Create Effective Workers’ Comp Pre-Loss Programs

The best way to reduce workers’ compensation costs is to ensure there are no injuries or illnesses. While that may sound implausible, all accidents and injuries are preventable.

 

Companies that take that concept to heart see significant savings on their own bottom lines. It just takes a firm commitment from management and a concerted, continuous effort to implement a successful workers’ comp pre-loss program.

 

In addition to reduced accident frequency and substantially lower workers’ compensation costs, companies that embrace a pre-loss program also benefit from better product and service quality, enhanced productivity, lower indirect-injury costs, and an overall improved image in the community.

 

 

Management’s Role

 

An effective pre-loss program starts at the top, with the recognition that management is ultimately responsible for preventing workplace accidents. Additionally, there must be a person or people designated to ensure accountability for safety decisions that have been made.

 

Managers and supervisors need to lead by example and reinforce safety policies that are implemented. That includes heading or attending safety committee meetings, participating in the investigation of any and all lost-time injuries that do occur, and integrating safety and health into overall strategic business plans.

 

Top tier leaders should establish safety performance improvement objectives and follow-up on the progress made for approved safety improvement plans. Finally, they should track and include adherence to safety objectives in employee performance reviews.

 

 

The Plan

 

Developing and implementing an effective safety policy takes time and effort. It begins with small steps.

 

  1. Set goals — Realistic improvement goals should first be established. Employers can look at their data or work with their insurer/third-party administrator for any trends in terms of accidents and injuries. For example, are there specific facilities and/or job duties that are more susceptible to workers’ compensation claims? Once trends have been identified, employers can determine ways to reduce those claims and set goals; however, the goals must be realistic, communicated to all employees and tracked.

 

  1. Training — All new employees should be required to undergo safety orientation. However, safety training and education should also be provided on a regular, ongoing basis to all employees. In large corporations, that duty falls to safety management staff. But even small companies can ensure ongoing training by managers and/or supervisors who are trained. The training should be formal and documented. Working safely should be considered a condition of employment

 

  1. Enforcement — Supervisors must enforce safety rules and regulations consistently. In fact, executing the company safety policy needs to be an integral part of the supervisor’s job description.

 

  1. Timely Investigations — All accidents should be investigated within 24 hours. The sooner the better, since the incident is still fresh in the minds of any witnesses, as well as the injured employee.

 

  1. Facility Hazard Inspections — Part of a good pre-loss program includes regular inspections of company facilities to identify and correct any hazards that may exist. Workers who might be affected by identified hazards should receive special training.

 

  1. Employee Engagement — Workers need to be encouraged to actively participate in the safety program. They should be included in safety committee meetings, facility hazard inspection teams, and training of new employees in their departments. Employees should be rewarded for reporting unsafe working conditions and behaviors.

 

  1. Companywide — The safety plan requires the cooperation of all departments, especially HR, production, engineering, and maintenance.

 

  1. Transparency — Safety as a topic should be openly discussed informally as well as in safety committee meetings. Workers should feel comfortable talking about potential hazards and possible solutions with their supervisors and one another.

 

 

Safety Culture

 

The success of a pre-loss program depends largely on the overall safety culture at the organization. All personnel should be engaged in the idea that safety and health is simply the way business is done at the company.

 

Rather than a reactive strategy where there is action taken once an accident occurs, the organization needs to have a proactive strategy to identify and address potential safety problems. Again, that starts at the top.

 

Managers and supervisors must treat workers fairly and consistently. They must believe and convey that they and the company are truly concerned about the well-being of their employees. They also need to foster an atmosphere of respect — with their workers and among employees.

 

 

Post Injury

 

While the idea of a pre-loss program is to prevent workplace accidents and injuries, there should, nevertheless, be a specific process in place for any claims that do occur. The post-injury claims management process should include the following elements:

 

  • Formal RTW — A documented return-to-work process that is laid out and communicated to all employees should be established. Included should be restricted-duty job descriptions.

 

  • Physician Involvement — Treating physicians and other medical providers should be familiar with and engaged in the RTW process. They should have access to the restricted-duty job descriptions. Physicians should also be invited to tour the facility/facilities to better understand the job tasks.

 

  • Solid Relationships with Claims Specialists — employers should establish good working relationships with claims managers and administrators.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Spending resources at the front end of the workers’ compensation process is too often ignored by companies. But employers that fully embrace the idea of safety at every level of the organization report significant cost savings, increased productivity and better morale among their employees.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, Principal, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

4 Ways to Minimize Workers’ Comp Indemnity Exposure

When dealing with cost containment in workers’ compensation, focus is often given to the medical issues in claims management.  While medical expenses continue to drive costs in all programs, forgetting about the indemnity aspects of claims can lead unmanageable costs and reduce the effectiveness of overall cost containment measures.  Now is the time to examine the indemnity side of your claims practice to maximize the effectiveness of your workers’ compensation program.

 

           

Average Weekly Wage

 

As a general rule, a majority of indemnity benefits in any jurisdiction are driven by the average weekly wage (AWW).  The AWW is often described as the fair estimation of an employee’s weekly wage.  Knowing the law is the first step in correctly calculating this wage.  Other factors include:

 

  • Status of the employee—whether they are a full-time or part-time employee;

 

  • Other compensation such as bonuses tips, gratuities, employee benefits and other fringe benefits; and

 

  • The nature of one’s employment. Seasonal and construction workers often receive preferential treatment when calculating an AWW due to the fact weather impacts their ability to work.

 

 

Minimizing Your Indemnity Exposure

 

When an employee is off work or working at a reduced wage/number of hours, they are entitled to receive wage loss benefits.  While most jurisdictions limit the number of weeks benefits such as temporary total (TTD) and temporary partial disability (TPD) are paid, failing to return the employee to their same pre-injury status can have undesirable consequences.  These include:

 

  • Payment of permanent total disability (PTD) benefits; and

 

  • Retraining programs. During this time, insurance carriers are required to not only pay for educational instruction preparing the employee for a new career, but they can also be on the hook for costly miscellaneous expenses and additional periods of wage loss benefits.

 

 

Alternatives to Paying Wage Loss Benefits

 

When evaluating the indemnity aspects of your claims program, alternatives to costly benefit exposures should include:

 

  • Aggressive Return to Work: When an employee is injured on the job, the employer’s goal is to return the employee to work as soon as the worker is medically able to return. Transitional duty (TD) enables injured workers to stay in the work world while they recover from the injury.

 

  • Work Hardening: This interdisciplinary approach focuses on a number aspect of the employee.  It can include an assessment of their physical abilities, physical therapy and rehabilitation via simulated workplace activities.  The process involves taking a deconditioned employee who has been out of the workforce and redeveloping their neuromuscular and musculoskeletal functions, which includes one’s strength, power and endurance to return to work.  Professionals involved in this process can include physical therapists, other medical professionals and occupational counselors.

 

  • Vocational Rehabilitation: Employees suffering from the effects of a work injury are generally those who may be precluded from engaging in their “usual and customary” occupation.  This threshold question is typically a low standard and should encourage most defense-oriented stakeholders willing to provide these benefits versus engaging in costly litigation.  A vocational rehabilitation expert assists the injured employee with a number of issues.  This includes explaining medical procedures and options, counseling them on return to work issues, educating the employee on re-employment issues, including work restrictions, and providing guidance on job search matters.  A majority of state workers’ compensation acts preclude this expert from being an advocate or legal representative for the employee.

 

  • Independent Medical Examinations (IME) and Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCE): These procedures can be used separately or together to mitigate indemnity exposure.  While the defense is able to select their experts to perform an IME or FCE, it is wise to select someone who has a sound professional reputation and able to state their findings within a reasonable degree of medical or vocational certainty.  Timing is key and many jurisdictions limit the use of these events.

 

Conclusions

 

Proactive claims management teams and stakeholders need to be proactive in their approach to program cost management.  While a focus on the medical side of claims is important, failure to do the same regarding indemnity benefits can be harmful.  When controlling the indemnity portion of a workers’ compensation claim, there are many opportunities to implement effective and cost-efficient services to accomplish one’s goal.

 

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

How To Double Your Odds of Poor Workers’ Comp Outcome

What do these factors have in common: education level, fear of being fired, tenure on the job and English language proficiency? All help determine outcomes for injured workers.

 

While you may not be able to change all the factors that influence outcomes, you can vastly help improve them. Understanding how certain issues affect recoveries and emphasizing best practices can get your injured workers back on the job faster and save your company money.

 

 

Education, Fear of Being Fired, Language

 

According to recent research studies workers with less than a high school education had poorer return-to-work rates than high school graduates, and the gap was more pronounced compared to those with secondary degrees. Injured workers concerned about being fired had worse outcomes and were more likely to hire attorneys, than those without such concerns. Injured workers whose main language was not English were also more likely to have poorer outcomes than those whose primary language was English.

 

The latest research also shows a correlation between outcomes and the employer’s response to the worker’s initial report of injury. The following were associated with poor outcomes:

 

  • Not being supportive.
  • Blaming the worker for his injury.
  • Expressing anger toward the injured employee.
  • Not believing the person was injured.
  • Telling the injured worker not to file a workers’ compensation claim.

 

When more than one of these responses was present the duration of days out of work was 2 times more than for workers who did not get a negative response.

 

 

6 Steps to Improve Outcomes

 

A lower education level, shorter time on the job and difficulty understanding English all play a part in an injured worker’s concerns about being fired. That particular fear is a strong indicator of when and how well an injured worker will recover.

 

To combat that concern, employers need to adopt many of the practices associated with an advocacy based claims model. Simply put, it means treating the injured worker as you would treat a customer. In some cases that might mean changing the culture of an organization, while in other companies it may involve just tweaking and ensuring certain practices are followed. Building trust with the injured worker is key.

 

Here are steps to help:

 

  1. Early contact. Both the supervisor and claims handler should communicate with the injured worker as soon after the injury as possible. Multiple studies show the benefits of this to both the injured worker and the employer. Average claim costs, claim duration and medical costs are all significantly lower when efforts are made to reach out early to the injured worker. The contact should take into consideration the injured worker’s preference; older workers may appreciate a phone call and/or letter while younger employees may prefer text messaging. Those whose primary language is not English should be contacted by someone who understands and speaks his native tongue. The message should be positive and show concern and caring. The employer should express genuine interest in the employee’s well-being.

 

  1. Constant communication. Injured workers often feel isolated the longer they are away from the workplace. By maintaining regular contact, the employer can help ensure the claim is progressing, answer any questions, and keep the injured worker up to date on the latest workplace happenings. Injured workers need to feel they are still part of the organization and should know the employer looks forward to his return. If nothing else, the social interaction itself can help make the injured worker feel less isolated.

 

  1. Assign specific contacts. Where possible, a nurse or other medical person should interact with the injured worker to discuss any medical issues. A nurse or claims handler should stay in touch with the injured worker to discuss various aspects of the claims process, including return to work.

 

  1. Early access to medical care. Getting medical care to the injured worker as soon as possible not only helps speed his physical recovery, but can also help alleviate his frustrations. It lets him see the process is focused and moving along, rather than being stuck in bureaucracy. Many larger companies have clinics at the work site. Those that don’t may be able to take advantage of companies that send medical providers, such as physical therapists to the work site. Telemedicine is another option companies are increasingly looking to help their injured workers.

 

  1. Coordinate care. Injured workers who have risk factors such as lower educational levels, short-term tenure with the employer, or poor English skills should be targeted for coordinated interventions. The employer, claims handler, and any others involved should hold discussions with the injured worker to ensure they are all on the same page and kept up to date.

 

  1. Beyond the denied claim. A claim denial should not be the end of the communication, as that can result in litigation. Instead, someone should discuss the reasons for the denial with the injured worker. Also, the injured worker should be told about other options, such as general healthcare. A nurse or someone with understanding of the claim process and the healthcare system should contact the injured worker to discuss his options.

 

 

Summary

 

There are myriad reasons why workers’ compensation claims deteriorate and have poor outcomes. Research is increasingly uncovering many of them. One thing for certain is that injured workers who feel valued, supported and who understand and engage in the process are more likely to recover quicker and get back to work sooner. The system does not need to be adversarial. Employers willing to treat injured workers with respect and support will create a trusting atmosphere and have lower workers’ compensation costs.

 

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

10 Requirements For Employees Injured At Work

We tend to think of workers’ compensation cost containment programs as an endeavor best left to the employer, and while the employer must design the program, the employee has a role also.

 

 

10 Requirements For Employees Injured At Work

 

  1. Know what to do if they are injured on the job
  2. Sign an acknowledgement of these responsibilities
  3. Seek medical care from the employers medical provider (or their own primary treating physician if allowed by law)
  4. Keep the employer informed and updated of their condition/status
  5. Complete forms required by the employer truthfully.
  6. Attend weekly meetings to keep the employer informed of their condition and any obstacles to return to work full duty
  7. Participate in transitional duty (this must be a condition of employment).
  8. Attend all medical and rehabilitation appointments.
  9. Return to work in either transitional duty or full duty as soon as medically able.
  10. Other tasks as required by the employer and allowable by law such. Each state is different.

 

Remember, communication is the most powerful to gain buy-in and bring employees on board with participation in your workers’ comp management program.

 

 

Main Communication Message

 

“Our employees are our greatest asset, we are sorry one of our employees was injured, and we need your help getting them back to work.”

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

11 Simple Ways to Make Return to Work Part of Corporate Culture

It is critically important that management makes return-to-work programs part of the corporate culture. The employee’s expectations should be that if/when they go out on workers’ compensation, they will return to work immediately in some form of transitional work capacity. What are a few of the tools that can be used to make return to work part of the culture?

 

 

 

11 Simple Ways to Make Return to Work Part of Corporate Culture

 

  1. Talk about RTW in a positive way- never badmouth the jobs, the participants or the concept.
  2. Make RTW a positive experienceby finding productive tasks or jobs. Never have transitional duty jobs be punitive.
  3. Demonstrate the costof NOT doing it, and the savings OF doing it by showing it to employees in terms they understand and management in terms understood by executives.
  4. Incorporate RTW in all policies and procedures such asMedical Policy and/or Leave of Absence Policy, Wellness Policy. 
  5. Make it amandatory requirement of employment – so all employees expect to be treated in a similar fair manner.
  6. Holdweekly meetings to discuss obstacles to return to work – keeps employees “connected” and employers stay on top of the worker’s abilities.
  7. Send Get Well Cards for colleagues that are injured. Perhaps include a gift card to Papa Johns’s or a local restaurant or one that delivers with the card.
  8. Maintain the rules strictly and make them standardized.
  9. Show supervisors the cost savings and benefits (they have less retraining, for example).
  10. Don’t hesitate to use vendors that do on-site work hardening and RTW coaching.
  11. Include them in workplace activitieswhile they are recovering. Don’t forget to include them in meetings, events while they are injured. Once they are out of work they can easily become alienated and lose social contacts, so continue to include them in workplace activities even if they are doing a partial schedule while they work toward full duty.

 

These are just a few ways to make RTW part of your corporate culture. Start now, and take small steps. Stick with the program and gradually it will be accepted.

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 

5 Reasons Your Employee WANTS to Return to Work

There can often be a negative connotation for those that are injured at work.  After dealing with thousands of claims adjusters can get jaded that claimants are up to no good and are only looking for a free paycheck.

 

A handful of bad apples can ruin it for everyone, but for the most part people just want to get back to their normal routine.  When injured, workers are usually in pain, receiving less money than they are used to, and traveling back and forth to doctor offices for examinations and therapy.  A revolving statistic may state that up to 10% of claims filed are not necessarily legitimate.  That leaves 90% just looking to heal and get back to pre-injury status.  Some injured workers even heal or return to work quicker than expected.  But why?  It seems obvious, but let’s explore some of the reasons in more detail:

 

 

  1. Loss of income

 

The biggest factor for an injured worker wanting to go back to regular duty is the income they receive.  There aren’t many people out there than can get rich off of receiving work comp pay.  Typically they receive a percentage of the income they are used to receiving, ranging from 60% to 80% of their net income.

 

Even in dual income families, this loss of income can be substantial, especially those that are living from paycheck to paycheck.  Do not be surprised when your injured worker is in a rush to get back to normal.  As long as a qualified doctor releases them to work with no medical restrictions, then you should be all set.  Of course this will vary on the injury.  I have handled cases when the claimant is adamant about making the doctor return them to work, and the physician will indicate in the notes that they are just retuning the patient back to full duty because that is what the patient requests.  You have to be very careful in this situation to avoid further injury, so if this should happen review it on a case by case basis.

 

 

  1. The claimant is bored if they are totally out of work and sitting at home

 

Sitting at home in an empty house with nothing to do can be even worse than light duty.  There is only so much daytime TV one can stomach.  It is no coincidence that most plaintiff law firm commercials run during the morning and afternoon, when injured workers would be home while disabled from work.

The vast majority of workers like working, or at least need to work for income, and even though sitting at home for weeks sounds great it is indeed not so great after a while.  It’s not like they can do whatever they want.  In fact this is what will land most workers in trouble, because once boredom creeps in they start to get outside and do something to take their mind off of being at home, and if you have surveillance on that certain day this can land a person’s case in suspension or denial due to them breaking their medical restrictions, whether it be on purpose or not.  I have seen a lot of injured workers say they just cannot sit at home any longer, and want to return to work.

 

 

  1. The claimant hates being involved with the adjuster and the carrier/TPA

 

Most claimants are new to being on work comp.  They have no idea what they are supposed to do, they do not like treating with the occupational doctor, and they hate sitting around and waiting on a paycheck to come in the mail that may take weeks to come once the investigation is complete.  In fact, I have had some workers that have had a legitimate work injury decline filing a claim under work comp, and choose to cover the bills from their medical care another way.  This is especially true if they have had a messy comp case in their past.  They are so jaded about how the process works that they will avoid it at all cost.  This is not necessarily the right thing to do, but the overall choice is up to the worker.  Realistically the carrier is not going to try and talk the injured worker into filing the claim.

 

 

  1. They think that a work comp case is going to be a litigation nightmare

 

Taking this one step further, some workers have heard horror stories about being on work comp, and being embroiled in a years-long litigation battle, with mounting attorney fees and a life filled with misery.  Sure this could be true sometimes, but not as much as the general public thinks.  Despite what the adjuster may tell them, we can’t make the worker pull the trigger and file the claim.

 

 

  1. The worker just heals faster than expected

 

Some people just heal better and quicker than others.  This is due to conditioning, genetics, the type of injury, the location of the injury, the severity of the injury, and so on.  If the adjuster thinks that it can take 6-8 weeks to heal from a back strain, and the worker is released to full duty in 2 weeks, this doesn’t mean that they are just in a rush to get back to gainful employment.  If the medical checks out, and the treating doctor signs off on it, then so be it.  Full duty is full duty. Adjusters should not hold this against a person just because they heal better or quicker than we thought they would.

 

 

Summary

 

There are many more factors to add to this article, but in my opinion the 5 above are the most tangible. This should prove that all claims shouldn’t be placed in the “bad” category.  Put yourself in the shoes of your injured worker.  Their money is not the same, they are in some sort of pain, their job tasks have changed, they are dealing with the adjuster and the carrier/TPA, etc.  They are in uncertain waters.  The common response to that is to get back to whatever they think is their normal life as soon as possible, so they can put this all behind them.

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 

4 Communication Strategies to Lower Workers Comp Costs

Here’s a sobering reality: most of the world does not understand the workers’ compensation system. Unless they themselves or a family member has sustained an occupational injury, most people haven’t the foggiest idea how the whole process is supposed to work.

 

That means it’s up to us to make sure an injured worker gets a clear understanding. Why? Because confusion and misunderstandings about the system drive up claims costs. People are afraid and don’t know how or when they will receive medical care or another paycheck. The way the system has historically worked clearly does not help the situation.

 

Think about it. There may be notifications from the claims adjuster, claims administrator, third-party administrator, insurer, pharmacy benefit manager, employer, medical provider or the case manager; with questions or information about the DOI, future medicals, impairment ratings, TTD/TPD/PPD, MMI, or FCE. Add to that a few comorbidities and biopsychosocial risk factors and it’s no wonder some cases go south.

 

 

Effective Communication

 

Ideally, you want the injured worker engaged in the recovery process so he’s motivated to get back to function and work as quickly as possible. Building trust is key. Training supervisors and managers on communication skills can go a long way to preventing animosity; i.e., delayed recoveries, litigation, etc.

 

 

Words

 

What you say has a big impact on how an injured worker responds to the workers’ comp process. You want to avoid creating animosity. Some tips on what to say (or not) include:

 

  • Don’t start sentences with ‘you.’ You don’t want to make accusations against the injured worker. Even if that is not the intention, sentences that start with ‘you’ may be perceived that way.
  • Avoid ‘never’ and ‘always.’ You want to be honest with the injured worker and show you are willing to work with him. Such definitive words may prematurely end a discussion, or provide false hope — neither of which will help.
  • Be positive. Use words that exude optimism. Let the worker know her job is not in danger and you are expecting and looking forward to her returning to work as soon as possible.
  • Use clear and concise language. The person speaking with the injured worker should have his message set and know what and how he plans to say before the conversation starts.

 

 

Tone/Attitude

 

It’s not only important what you say, but how you say it that matters. As the old adage goes, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

 

  • Be supportive. Ask the injured worker how he is doing, not only with his injury but overall. Find out if he’s experiencing any particular hardships with which you might be able to help, such as speaking with family members about the workers’ compensation process. Indicate you are interested in him as a person. Also, talk about what the person can do, rather than what he can’t due because of the injury.

 

  • Be friendly. Be polite and nice. Smiling when you speak is a trick used by radio announcers, as it affects how you come across to others.

 

 

Listen

 

Injured workers are often confused about their injuries and how the workers’ compensation process works. Give them a chance to say and ask what they want. Be open to hearing the injured worker’s point of view. Be an active listener by asking clarifying questions and paraphrasing what the person has said to make sure you understand.

 

 

Frequency

 

It’s imperative to keep the injured worker engaged throughout the claims process. That means maintaining regular communication in whatever forms best meet the injured worker’s needs, whether it be via phone, text, email, letter, etc.

 

The first contact should be made immediately following an injury, to show the person you care and are there for them. A phone call is typically best at this stage, as it provides for interpersonal communication. It’s also important to let the injured worker know what to expect throughout the claims process. Some organizations have developed brochures that clearly and concisely explain the workers’ compensation process. At the least, you can verbally tell the worker what he can expect.

 

Ongoing communications should focus on informing the injured worker about the status of his claim, in addition to continuing to show your support and concern. Also, convey the message that the person is still a valued employee. Update him on work-related goings on and send him any newsletters or other communications so he feels he is still part of the workplace. A get-well card signed by coworkers also helps them feel a part of the company.

 

It’s important that all communication with the injured worker is consistent. You should work with the claims handling team, providers, and others to ensure you are all on the same page.

 

 

Summary

 

Fear, misunderstandings and hurt feelings are prime drivers of adversarial relations between injured workers and employers. By working on communication skills and training all who play a part in the claims process, organizations can ensure their injured workers are on board with their recoveries and return-to-work processes.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

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