School System Summer Break – 4 Proactive Work Comp Tips

School System Summer Break - 4 Proactive Work Comp Tips

Interested stakeholders in the workers’ compensation process are constantly seeking ways to reduce program costs.

 

One area includes the discontinuance of workers’ compensation benefits for school employees and teachers suffering from the effects of a work injury during the summer break period.  While statues and case law interpretations vary in each jurisdiction, employers and insurers are generally limited in their ability to discontinue or suspend various workers’ compensation benefits for school employees during this time of year – even if they have no plans of looking for work while under restrictions on their activity.

 

 

Schools Out – Time to Discontinue Work Comp Benefits?

 

While the school year typically runs from late August through late May, employees of school districts around the country sustain work-related injuries every day.  The ongoing effects of those work injuries do not magically disappear for summer break.  Sadly, those hot summer days a teacher, paraprofessional or administrative staff employee would like to spend at a beach, can be spent at home convalescing.  Proactive members of the claims management team might view this as an opportunity to discontinue ongoing wage loss and vocational rehabilitation benefits.  Unfortunately, this is often not consistent with many state workers’ compensation laws via case law interpretation.

 

One case on point comes from Minnesota, where a school district sought to discontinue ongoing wage loss benefits at the conclusion of a school year.[1]  The rationale for the discontinuance was based on the premise the employee did not intend to work during the summer months, and the result was no loss in wages.  A compensation judge rejected this argument and affirmed by the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals.

 

In affirming the reinstatement of wage loss benefits, the court noted that “A teacher who has no summer school duties is presumably free to pursue other part-time or short-term employment.  Therefore, a teacher with a work injury might be entitled to continuing wage loss benefits through the summer if the teacher is totally unable to work for medical reasons attributable to the injury or has injury-related restrictions that affect is his or her ability to secure other employment.”

 

In sum, wage loss benefits are typically payable as long as the employee has a disability related to the work injury. The basis for this decision is also applicable to other forms of workers’ compensation benefits, including vocational rehabilitation.

 

 

Staying Proactive to Avoid the Summertime Claims Blues

 

Being away from work can cause the summertime blues in anyone – especially people who work in an educational environment.  Now is the time for claims professionals handling claims related to school employees to be proactive on these matters to reduce their exposure and ensure improper discontinuance of benefits is not made.

 

  • Investigate whether the school employee is engaged in seasonal employment. People who work in a school environment may be likely to work seasonal jobs during the summer months.  This can include individuals suffering from work-related  Efforts to investigate these matters may also include the use of surveillance if there is credible information the employee is working and not reporting their work activities.

 

  • Make efforts to return the injured school employee to work. Proactive return to work efforts should be made on every claim.  This is especially the case for school employees where wage loss benefits could be paid for an extended period of time.  Suggestions include developing a “Work on Loan” relationship a local non-profit, volunteer agency, or other light duty work inside school district buildings and facilities.

 

  • Monitor the status of claims involving school employees and stay in contact. Lack of communication between the employer/insurer and employee leads to conflict, fear and  Staying in contact with the injured worker provides for effective communication and minimizes problems.

 

  • Determine if the school employee is cooperating in vocational rehabilitation efforts. Summer break and time off from school does not give an injured school employee a vacation from their recovery and achieving their vocational rehabilitation goals.  Various workers’ compensation benefits can still be discontinued or suspended for failure to cooperate with a rehabilitation plan.

 

 

Conclusions

 

School employment and summer breaks create an opportunity for interested stakeholders to stay engaged with employees and reduce workers’ compensation program costs.  While most benefits typically remain payable during summer breaks, there are opportunities for motivated members of the claims management team to engage injured employees and minimize their exposure.  This includes claim monitoring, engagement and ongoing efforts to return an employee back to work.

 

[1] Qualy v. Special School District No. 1, 1994 WL 421773 (MN WCCA).

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a 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/

 

©2018 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.

3 Questions to Eliminate Return to Work Disincentives

You have implemented a corporate return-to-work program, but your projected workers’ compensation savings haven’t yet materialized. Supervisors are telling you they can’t get employees back to work, and even if they could they don’t WANT them to return to work. We’ve all heard it.

It may be time to examine the impact of collateral resources, often resulting in employees out on workers compensation receiving more income and benefits than they would have if they were working.

 

 

Common Disincentives to Returning to Work:

 

  1. Salary and Wage Continuation: Some companies pay 100% of salary in lieu of having an employee collect workers compensation for injuries of short duration.

 

  1. Occupational Injury Pay Supplements: Many firms pay supplemental benefits to make up the difference between workers compensation benefits and regular earnings.

 

  1. Open-Ended Job Return: Instead of holding jobs open indefinitely, employers should hold jobs open for a specific time period, such as six or nine months.

 

  1. Vacation and Sick Time: Companies frequently allow vacation and sick time to accrue for employees on workers compensation. Some even allow employees to “borrow” more sick time if they need to stay out of work longer.

 

  1. Short-Term Disability: In some companies, disabled employees receive STD benefits in lieu of salary after six weeks. But the standard definition for disability may differ from workers comp, allowing an employee to collect both.

 

  1. Perk Continuation: Employers often maintain ancillary benefits and privileges such as car allowances, club and professional dues, company store privileges and periodical subscriptions for employees on disability.

 

  1. Loan Protection Policies: Individual insurance policies are available to pay mortgages and consumer loans such as car loans and credit card debts in the case of a disability.

 

  1. Unemployment Compensation: In a few states, an employee receiving workers comp also can qualify for state unemployment benefits.

 

  1. Pension and Retirement Plans: If these plans do not allow for the offset of workers comp benefits, an employee can receive workers compensation benefits and a full pension.

 

  1. Product Liability Actions: An employee can file an action against the manufacturer of a product that injured him to collect damages. The employer should seek reimbursement for workers comp payment from any such settlement.

 

 

3 Questions to Eliminate Return to Work Disincentives:

 

  1. What Benefits are Injured Workers Getting By Not Working?

 

Many companies fail to look closely enough at their internal wage and benefits structure before embarking on programs to reduce workers compensation costs. There are numerous collateral income benefits and sources providing built-in disincentives to remaining injury-free or returning to work as soon as possible.

 

For example, a major newspaper was considering an expensive incentive program to motivate employees to return to work, but a careful examination of the company’s situation revealed the reason employees were not returning to work was because they earned the equivalent of 115% of their pre-injury earnings when the stayed out of work.

 

In another case, an injured construction company employee received long-term disability (LTD) payments after 26 weeks of disability, in addition to workers compensation benefits. The total of these benefits exceeded his pre-injury earnings.

 

And, his childcare and commuting expenses also were greatly reduced while he was home.

 

 

  1. Examine Extra Insurance Your Employee May Have

 

If an employee has purchased credit disability insurance, he or she may have eliminated house and car payments while being unable to work.

 

As such, he refused his employer’s offer of a transitional duty job at full salary because his LTD and credit disability policies would have terminated the benefits.

 

 

  1. Get your Departments to Work Together to Design WC Policies.

 

In a large company, the directors of human resources, industrial relations, workers comp and employee benefits and compensation must all be involved in designing, administering and maintaining policies. Incentives to remain at and return to work must be built into the management systems. Disincentives must be removed from all direct and indirect sources.

 

Substantial savings can be achieved when a company coordinates its salary, benefits and compensation programs, so employees don’t earn more by staying out of work. If not properly coordinated, a company’s employee benefit and compensation programs may inadvertently serve to extend workers compensation absences.

 

 

 

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the co-author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact:.

Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

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

 

©2018 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.

 

 

 

Unions Really Can Be A Workers’ Comp Asset

When most people think of labor unions and workers compensation, they think of the role of unions in supporting questionable workers compensation claims. When a factory closes and then most of the union work force files belated worker’s compensation claims, at the encouragement of the local labor union, the union gets a black eye and a soiled reputation.

 

 

It does not have to be this way. Unions can have a positive role. When unions support safety improvements, they are providing an important benefit to their members and they are assisting the employer in lowering the cost of workers compensation. Union support for OSHA programs can be instrumental in improving the safety within an industry. Unions have also promoted the use of safety gear including hard hats and protective eyewear.

 

 

 

Unions Can Implement Highly Effective Return to Work Program

 

 

While unions have often promoted safety in the work place, unfortunately some public sector unions have fought against return to work of employees, resulting in unnecessary workers compensation expense for the employers. However, some unions in the private sector have worked with employers to develop and implement highly effective return to work programs.

 

 

In the states where the employers do not have to hold open a job for an injured employee, unions can make a difference. Often the union will have a labor agreement requiring the employer to hold open the injured employee’s job until the employee can return to work. In addition, the union can track workplace accidents and make recommendations on ways to reduce the number of accidents.

 

 

The union representative or steward will normally guide the injured employee through the work comp process, starting with arranging immediate medical care for an employee hurt on the job. This is a good thing as the sooner the employee is treated for an on-the-job injury, the higher the probability of a faster recovery. However, the union involvement can quickly go from good to bad when the union encourages an employee to stay off work longer than necessary because the union has a quarrel with management.

 

 

 

Perceived Union Benefit Drives Poor Workers’ Comp Outcomes

 

When unions boast that the union members receive more in workers compensation payments than non-union employees do, they may think that sounds like a good thing, but in reality, it is stating they create more waste in the workers compensation system. Every state requires the exact same benefits for medical, indemnity and vocational rehabilitation for non-union members as they do for union members.

 

 

Contrary to what some union leaders tell their members, employers do not have unlimited funds for workers compensation. Unions often err when it comes to workers compensation by putting the “rights” of one injured worker ahead of the best interest of all employees and the employer. When a union files a grievance on behalf of an injured worker who is overstating his/her injury or an injured worker who is trying to commit workers compensation fraud, any benefits paid to the injured worker reduces the amount of money the employer will have to provide benefits to legitimately injured workers

 

 

The same logic applies when the union representative or union steward automatically requires (“request”) all injured employees to go an attorney chosen by the union to represent the employee in their work comp claims. The additional expense that the attorney creates in the claim comes out of the employer’s pocket whether the employer is self-insured, or pays it latter through higher insurance premiums. The additional cost of the represented workers compensation claim reduces the amount of money the employer has for work comp and other employee benefits.

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a 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/

 

©2018 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 Ways To Facilitate Better Return-to-Work Rates

5 Ways To Facilitate Better Return-to-Work RatesThe longer an injured worker is off the job, the more it costs the company and the less likely he is to return — ever. Since that can add up to major expenses for an organization, the goal should be to keep injured employees on the job or, if that’s not possible, get them back to work as soon as possible.

 

Most injured workers are back on the job within 4 days. But there are times when that is not the case — even if the injury itself is not that severe. There are myriad reasons employees don’t return to the job. Using a few simple strategies can aid the process.

 

  1. Stay in network. The medical providers that are part of your network should be well versed in occupational health issues, especially when it comes to returning the injured worker to work. Physicians in the know understand that it is not only in the employer’s best interests, but the employee’s as well. Research clearly shows people recover and heal faster when they are participating in constructive activities, rather than sitting on the couch. Physicians who are part of the employer’s medical network understand these factors and are more likely to pursue returning the worker to the job site, at least in some capacity.

 

However, it does not always work out that way, and the employee may go to a physician of his choice for various reasons. Even in states without employer-directed healthcare, the employer can at least recommend certain providers. Someone from the company should also be designated to drive the person to the physician’s office. Doing so will make the worker more likely to agree to be seen by the provider recommended.

 

Some injured workers say they are ‘fine’ at the time of injury but later seek medical care. All injured workers should be provided with a list of in-network or recommended providers. If the employee later decides to head to a physician, he may be more likely to go to one suggested to him.

 

Employers need to be clear about the workers’ compensation process and demonstrate their caring and concern for the injured worker. This can be done with effective communication — both formal and informal (see ‘communicate’ and ‘brochures’ below).

 

  1. Job Descriptions. Whether the injured worker is treated by an in-network provider or one of his own choosing, it’s vital that the physician has a clear understanding of what the person’s job entails. Providers need to be fully aware of a worker’s job duties in order to determine whether he can or should return to work. While most injured workers want to return as soon as possible, there are some who would rather ‘take some time off’ or believe they need to stay off work to recover. A thorough, detailed job description will help the physician see whether the work is as onerous as the employee has described.

 

  1. Communicate. This is, perhaps, the most effective strategy an employer can use to facilitate return-to-work. Injured workers are typically confused about the workers’ compensation process and feel alone. A simple phone call the day of or one day following the injury is a vital step. The call should be initiated by the worker’s supervisor or a manager the employee knows well and trusts. The call does not need to be long and complicated, but it needs to include the following messages:

 

  • We are sorry you were hurt. How are you doing?
  • You are a valued employee of the organization, and we want you back to work as soon as you are able.
  • Here is what you can expect and what you need to do.

 

Injured workers want to know how and when they will receive medical care and whether and how they will be paid. These issues should be addressed in the first call.

 

Beyond the initial phone call, there should be weekly conversations along with ‘get well’ cards and contact from those close to the worker.

 

  1. Peer-to-peer Providers. Despite your best efforts to reassure the worker and steer him to an in-network provider, the employee may visit a physician who is determined to keep the worker off the job for as long as desired. Or, the treating physician may recommend treatment that seems in contrast with evidence-based guidelines.

 

The best thing to do in those situations is have another provider get in touch with the treating physician, preferably one in the same specialty. A provider who is independent but associated with the employer can review the worker’s medical records and discuss the treatment with the treating doctor. That may require explaining the benefits of returning the injured employee to work, or highlighting best practices of treatment for the particular injury. Physicians are more likely to pay attention when conversing with another physician.

 

  1. Brochures. Most people have no concept of how the workers’ compensation system works, including injured workers. This complicated process needs to be explained and understood to get the injured worker engaged in his recovery. An employee brochure is one of the best ways to accomplish this.

 

Upon hiring, all employees should be given a brochure that lays out in simple steps what to expect. It should explain:

  • How medical treatment is provided.
  • How bills are paid.
  • The return-to-work process, including transitional duty.
  • That the employer wants to return the injured worker and will not punish him for getting injured.
  • That there will be a post-accident investigation to determine if there is ann acceptable workers’ compensation claim.

 

The same information or a shorter version of it should be provided to any worker upon injury. Most workers either will not have read the brochure initially or won’t be able to find it once they are injured. Giving it to employees when they start employment at the company shows them there is a process and expectations; giving it to them when they are injured ensures they will have a step-by-step guide for the process.

 

 

Conclusion

 

The transition from injury to RTW can and should be smooth and seamless. This can be accomplished by clearly laying out the process and expectations and showing ongoing concern for the worker.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a 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/

 

©2018 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 Foundational Elements of Return to Work Success

 

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When worker’s compensation was created over 100 years ago as the first form of social insurance in America, the number one reason and goal of the program was to return employees to their pre-injury state. Number one reason and number one goal of worker’s compensation was to return employees to their pre-injury state, both medically and from an occupation standpoint, their ability to work.

 

Hello, my name is Michael Stack, CEO of Amaxx. And if that is the truth, which it is, the number one goal of worker’s compensation is to return employees to their pre-injury state, the best way to do that is with a very effective return to work program. Now there’s a lot we could talk about with return to work. There’s a lot of different nuances, but what I want to discuss today is where I see companies falling down the most. And that’s right out of the gates in the policy, in the transitional duty policy, and the strategy and the philosophy as to how an organization even looks at setting up a return to work in the first place. Because if you’re not doing this right out of the gates, then you’re setting yourself up for failure, or at least you’re setting yourself up to not be as successful and have things run as smoothly as they could.

 

 

4 Foundational Elements of Return to Work Success

 

We’re going to cover four critical elements to return to work or transitional duty policy that you need to have implemented at your organization to set things up properly. Let’s talk about what these are.

 

Temporary

First thing is it needs to be temporary. Return to work needs to be temporary, and this should be no more than 90 days. The vast majority of healing should be occurred in most injuries … of course, you need to be flexible on this in order to accommodate for the ADA … but as you’re communicating this, as you’re setting this up, the vast majority of cases, temporary transitional duties should last no more than 90 days. And if you’re not on that path, then you need to bring up some other claim interventions to get things going in the right direction. So number one is temporary.

 

 

Similar to Employee’s Current Position and Flexible

 

Number two is it needs to be similar to their current position. As you’re looking at creating a transitional duty job, the first place to look is that it’s similar to their current job. Look at the functional abilities that you get from their provider, from the medical provider, and match that up to what they do. Make sure that they can continue to be productive as an employee. The first place to look is that modifying and making it similar to their original job. But you also need to be flexible in this same breath. Ask that employee what part of your job can you do today? Get those functional abilities from the medical provider, and maybe you can’t modify their original job, which happens. You also need to have the ability to possibly move them to a different division within your own organization or possibly at a different charity so they can get back to work right away, doing something that’s productive as for the society as a whole, helps their healing, as well. So temporary, similar and flexible.

 

 

Occurs During Regular Business Hours

 

Number three then is that it’s during regular business hours. Transitional duty occurs during regular business hours, and this is a typical workday. Regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 9:00 to 5:00 or 9:00 to 6:00, whatever your hours are at your organizations. So there’s no overtime that happens with a transitional duty job and no second shift, as well. So no overtime, no second shift. If someone’s on a transitional duty job, it’s happening during regular business hours. It lets you be able to monitor that individual employee, lets you be able to communicate with them better, and really puts them in and taps them into the ability to tap into medical providers, etc.

 

 

Condition of Employment

 

And the last thing here, element number four is that it’s a condition of employment. Return to work is a condition of employment. Now you think about this as if this person wasn’t injured, do you require them to come to work every day? What if they just said, “Well, I don’t feel like coming to work. I don’t feel like going in today. I’m not really feeling that great. I don’t feel like coming to work.” That’s unacceptable from an employment standpoint. Being paid as an employee, you have to come to work. The same thing is true in a transitional duty policy, as well.

 

Again, I’m Michael Stack, CEO of Amaxx, and if you can incorporate these four elements into your transitional duty policy, you will be well on your way to success in the most critical element to worker’s compensation management. Remember your work today in worker’s compensation can have a dramatic impact on your company’s bottom line. But it will have a dramatic impact on someone’s life. So be great.

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a 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/

 

©2018 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.

Wouldn’t It Be Great If Return To Work Was A Law?

 

For more ADA and Return to Work posts, check out:

 

 

Hey there, Michael Stack here, CEO of AMAXX. So, one of the things we hear a lot about in Workers’ Compensation is state law reforms. Now, you may be wondering yourself, or you may have wondered to yourself, or at least at some point, wouldn’t it be great if there was a law, if there was legislation that required the one thing that we know makes the most impact on Workers’ Compensation claim outcomes. Drives down Workers’ Compensation costs, improves the outcome for the injured worker, and drastically reduces injury durations, which is Return-to-Work.

 

 

Americans with Disabilities Act Has Significant Workers’ Comp Implications

 

Well, I’m here to tell you today, I’m here to open up your eyes if you weren’t aware of it, that there is a law, and it’s called the Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA. It was created by Congress in 1990. What it is, is a civil rights law. It protects what is covered or technically termed a qualified individual with a disability from discrimination in the workplace. But, what you might not be aware of is that most of your employees who are injured at work fall under the umbrella of a qualified individual with a disability and are covered by the ADA. I’m gonna say that again. Most of your employees who are injured at work fall under the umbrella of a qualified individual with a disability, and they’re covered by the ADA.

 

Now, if you weren’t aware of that to this point, you need to be aware of it. As an employer, it’s something you need to be educated on. But the best practices, and the good news is that the best practices of Workers’ Compensation, Return-to-Work best practices, and ADA compliance are very much parallel to each other. So, if you’re following one, you’re likely following the other.

 

 

ADA & Return to Work Best Practices

 

What I want to do today is cover some of these very basic ADA and Return-to-Work best practices terms, and have you now start to recognize how you can tie and marry these two together to create better compliance with the ADA and create better Return-to-Work outcomes.

 

So, let’s talk about what these terms mean. You’ve got the Interactive Process, Reasonable Accommodation, and then Light Duty and how it applies. So, under the ADA law, a qualified individual with a disability, you’re required to engage in what is called the Interactive Process. Now, that kind of sound like a very legal and sort of overwhelming and complicated term, but all it really means is you’re having a conversation. You’re having a conversation, interacting with that employee and talking about what it is that they have going on, and how you could potentially accommodate their job to have them do the essential functions of that job. Now, essential functions, again, another legal sounding term, but when you break it down it’s just really the things that are most important in that job. You’re a forklift driver, can you drive the forklift or not? And can we accommodate your job in order for you to be able to do that? It’s very basic level, that’s all it means. So, you’re having this conversation in order for you to create together as an employer and as an employee this accommodation for them to do their essential functions of the job.

 

Now, let’s talk about Light-Duty and how it relates to this and how this Workers’ Comp process relates to this. In the ADA and how this sort of differs but how it sort of parallels each other, is that there’s a requirement under the law that they could do the essential functions. There’s no expectation. There is no law requiring them to do a lower amount of job or sort of a reduced output. Now, this is the biggest difference between Return-to-Work, Best Practices, and Light-Duty, is that the ADA requires by law for them to do the essential functions of that job. In Light-Duty, in Return-to-Work best practices often that output is slightly reduced. Or can be slightly reduced, and you’re giving and taking that improved injury duration, that improved cost, that improved outcome for that injured worker. You’re able to give up some of those essential functions and certain occasions in a Return-to-Work process, but in the ADA you’re not.

 

 

ADA & Workers’ Comp Best Practice Require a Conversation

 

But let’s take a look at this. Let’s take a look at these best practices and let’s take a look at how you’re creating these jobs under federal law and now how this can all sort of start to tie together and make some sense. In the ADA law, you’re required to have a conversation. Best practices in Workers’ Compensation management require you or recommend that you have a conversation, but it all comes down to this idea of working together with your employees to get them back to work. It’s required under federal law. It’s Workers’ Compensation best practices. So, if you could put this perspective around this idea of following these best practices, following ADA law, you will be significantly better off in both your Work Comp program as well as your ADA compliance.

 

Again, I’m Michael Stack, CEO of AMAXX. Remember, your work today in Workers’ Compensation can have a dramatic impact on your company’s bottom line. But it will have a dramatic impact on someone’s life. So, be great.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a 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/

 

©2018 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.

 

Reducing Work Comp Costs through Creative Return-To-Work

Reducing Work Comp Costs through Creative Return-To-WorkThere is a benefit to every workers’ compensation program when an employee returns to work following a work injury.  This is true even in instances where the employee returns to work in a “light duty” capacity.

 

Creating an effective return to work takes an investment by all interested stakeholders.  It also requires creativity and a willingness to keep employees within the workplace.  In the long run, it also reduces program costs and promotes a better work environment.

 

 

Understanding the Benefits of Light Duty Work

 

Engaging injured workers in light duty work creates a win-win situation for all interested stakeholders.  This includes the following:

 

  • Employees: A person staying at home following a work injury incurs many psychological barriers.  It not only takes the employee out of their natural schedule, but it creates isolation and boredom.  Countless studies show that employees working in a modified capacity following an injury have better outcomes and a quicker recovery.

 

  • Employers: Interested stakeholders who own and operate a company can create a positive work environment by offering light duty work options.  It allows the employer to demonstrate a willingness to keep employees working and increases workplace morale.  It also allows them to complete necessary tasks that might otherwise not get resolved promptly.

 

 

Light Duty Work:  Finding Creative Solutions to Keep Employee Working

 

There are numerous light-duty positions available for employers willing to keep employees working.  This applies to companies of any size.  All it takes is interested stakeholders willing to invest in their workforce:

 

**When reviewing this list, keep in mind the best light duty position is to modify the employee’s current position. If this is not an option, be creative to make transitional work meaningful for both employee and employer.***

 

Sedentary Work Opportunities:

 

  • Sort incoming and outgoing mail. This can also include the delivery of intra-office mail using a cart or other assistive devices;
  • Security guard positions;
  • Inventory parts, supplies, and tools;
  • Answering telephones and other clerical work;
  • Ordering of office supplies. This can also include making sure safety, and first-aid cabinets are fully stocked;
  • The labeling of packages and parcels;
  • Driving a work vehicle to make deliveries. In other instances, employees can be trained to operate equipment such as a forklift;
  • Train new employees and complete necessary training; and
  • Update MSDS manuals.

 

Lighter Duty Positions with Weight Restrictions:

 

  • Picking up trash around the office, work area and on the premise. Other forms of work can include sweeping and light cleaning to ensure a safe workplace;
  • Inspecting fire extinguishers, eye-wash machines, and other safety equipment;
  • Light housekeeping and dusting in office spaces;
  • Engage in workplace quality control and other necessary inspections;
  • Shredding of company documents that are confidential; and
  • Maintain the company premises using snow removal equipment and lawns during the summer months.

 

Light Duty Positions with Greater Weight/Mobility Restrictions:

 

  • Perform assembly work using machines;
  • Working in a shipping department that requires light lifting and use of assistive devices;
  • Washing company vehicles;
  • Work a normal job, but at a slower pace; and
  • Working normal position within specific limitations.

 

 

Other Creative Solutions to Light Duty Work

 

In some instances, an employer might not be able to offer an employee a light duty position within their workplace.  If this is the case, employers should seek other opportunities to help in the recovery process by keeping an employee working in another capacity.  Creative solutions can include:

 

  • “Work on Loan” programs: Under this type of program, the employer will collaborate with another employer or non-profit organization.  The employee will remain an employee of the date of injury employer, but perform work duties for the other organization; or

 

  • Paid volunteer work: In some instances, a charity might have volunteer work for people to perform, which matches an employee’s work restrictions.  The date of injury employer will pay the employee to perform work duties as assigned by the charity.

 

Conclusions

 

An effective return to work program requires all interested stakeholders to be engaged and seek to keep injured workers active and in the workplace.  By keeping an injured worker engaged, they can reduce costs through better injury recovery and reduced exposure for various wage loss, medical or vocational rehabilitation benefits.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a 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/

 

©2018 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.

You Can Find Workers’ Comp Gold in 8,000 Hours

Hey, there. Michael Stack here, CEO of Amaxx. I’m generally fairly handy. I worked in a wood shop in college for four years and I’ve always enjoyed sort of doing little projects. So will have a lot of fun doing projects around the house or working with the kids, teaching them some things, et cetera. There’s a lot of things that I can do, but there’s also a lot of things that I can’t do.

 

We’ve been working on expanding our bathroom for the last several months. It’s sort of a different story for why it’s taken so long. But about two weeks ago, my wife’s cousin is a licensed plumber, and he came out to help us install the new plumbing. We’re expanding our bathroom into some new closets and putting a new shower in, et cetera.

 

He comes out for the weekend, stays with us and brings a friend of his. And so we have a nice time. We get the project done, and all goes great. And while they were here, the plumbers were here, I was talking with my wife’s cousin’s friend, and he’s been in training to become a licensed plumber. And I asked him, well, how long does it take to become a licensed plumber? How many hours that you need.

 

 

8,000 Hours to Become Licensed Plumber

 

And he told me. It takes 8,000 hours of training to become a licensed plumber. 8,000 hours of training to become a licensed plumber. I want that number to sink in with you. I want that concept to sink in with you. And I want you to think about what it takes for your, particularly your skilled labor at your organization, of why you hired them. The training that they have to go through in order to get up to be a valued employee and the experience that they’ve had in working for you.

 

One of the biggest challenges that companies often face, particularly with skilled labor, is that they say, well, we just don’t have any transitional duty for these guys. They’re not that good at office work and we just can’t really find anything for them to do. And maybe that’s true. Maybe they’re not that very good at office work.

 

 

Think Creatively Regarding Transitional Duty

 

But ask yourself this question. Over the course of this 8,000 hours, or whatever the training looks like for your organization, do you think they learned anything? Do you think they picked up any intricacies about how to do that job better than the average guy that may come in, filling in as a replacement? Do you think that the value that they can bring to your organization can be still substantial even if they’re not at 100%?

 

I want to challenge your paradigm, challenge your thinking to put this number, or whatever it is at your organization, into some perspective. I want you to get creative in regards to your transitional duty, leverage the skills, leverage the experience, leverage the knowledge, leverage the expertise that your employees do have. Put them back to work, bringing value to your company and to themselves, as well. Dramatically improving their recovery. Dramatically driving down the cost of their claim.

 

Again, I’m Michael Stack, CEO of Amaxx, and remember your work today in worker’s compensation can have a dramatic impact on your company’s bottom line. But it will have a dramatic impact on someone’s life. So be great.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a 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/

 

©2018 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.

 

Overcoming Barriers to Effective Return-to-Work

There are many barriers the claims management team must overcome when seeking to return an employee to work following an injury and disability.  These barriers include those posed by the employee.  Taking a proactive approach to these issues can reduce workers’ compensation costs and boost workplace morale.

 

 

Importance of Return-To-Work

 

Return-to-work is an important aspect of any workers’ compensation claim.  This is based on a number of factors:

 

  • Increased spending on medical care and treatment;

 

  • Increased exposure to ongoing wage loss and other benefits, including claims for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits; and

 

  • Costly claims for retraining benefits.

 

Effective return-to-work starts at the moment an injury occurs.  Part of the process includes identifying barriers the employee may raise.

 

 

Avoiding Medical Issues and De-Conditioning

 

Employees suffering a work injury are likely to have other co-morbid conditions that prevent a successful return to work.  Common ailments include:

 

  • Obesity;

 

  • Learning disabilities;

 

  • Diabetes;

 

  • Drug/alcohol use/abuse; and

 

 

According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), there has been a steady increase in the percentage of employees suffering a work-related injury who have a comorbid diagnosis.  Some insurance experts estimate nearly 10% of all claims involve this stumbling block.

 

Proactive members of the claims management team also need to take measures to keep their injured workforce active.  Keeping employees active while under restrictions can include:

 

  • Locating sedentary or other light-duty volunteer opportunities;

 

  • Seek non-profit partners in the community who will hire people recovering from work injuries. This partnership is often referred to as a “work on loan” assignment; and

 

  • Providing the employee with a health club membership.

 

Being creative is key!

 

 

Financial burdens, Day Care Challenges and Lack of Transferable Skills

 

People who suffer from a work-injury face many everyday challenges on a reduced income—even when receiving ongoing wage loss benefits.  This is due to the structure of the workers’ compensation system with average weekly wage caps and reduced wages due to statutory payment limits.  This results in a challenge for many as they are still faced with financial burdens and familial responsibilities.

 

Examples of helping injured workers’ through challenging financial times, while at the same time representing the interests of the insured do not necessarily conflict.  Claims management teams can assist by developing a database of local and nationwide social services agencies.  This can include food shelves, and local human services agencies.

 

Claims management teams can also encourage their employer clients to investigate services such as “Ticket to Work.”  Under this program, persons on SSDI can work for qualifying employers and not receive a reduction of their government benefits.  Employers benefit by developing a workforce and receive applicable tax deductions or qualify for certain government contracts.

 

 

Employee Perceived Work Restrictions

 

Another barrier that prevents employees from returning to gainful employment is malingering and self-imposed restrictions.  This is a challenge every claims handler must overcome at some point in their career.  There are many tools one can use to move the employee past this psychological barrier and into the workplace.

 

  • Effective discovery including recorded statements and depositions. It is important to obtain information from the employee about their interests outside of work and what limitations they have when performing those activities.

 

  • Use of Independent Medical Examinations and Independent Vocational Evaluations. IMEs and IVEs are a tool one can use to have the employee seen and examined by an expert.  This allows the defense interests to obtain an opinion on the employee’s limitations and physical abilities.

 

  • Use of surveillance. This is a costly method of discovery and should be used with care.  When used, a claims handler should consider having the employee subjected to scrutiny over the period of several days and during periods when information suggests they will be outside and engaging in physical activity.

 

 

Conclusions

 

There are many barriers members of the claims management team face when it comes to returning an employee to work, and the employee imposes one of these barriers.  It requires the claims handler to be proactive in their approach to reduce future costs on the claim.

 

 

 

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.

7 Habits of a Highly Effective Worker’ Comp Program

A best-selling book published 30 years ago as of 2018 holds valuable lessons for the workers’ compensation industry. Called the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People®, it outlined strategies based on the principles of fairness, integrity, honesty and human dignity; all of which can serve as best practices.

 

 

The Habits

 

Stephen R. Covey’s book resonated with organizations as well as individuals. The 7 habits include three related to moving from dependence to independence (or self-mastery), 3 focused on interdependence, and the 7th as striving for continuous improvement.

 

 

The Independence habits included

 

  • Be Proactive. Rather than operating in a reactive mode waiting for things to happen, the idea is to take responsibility.

 

  • Begin with the End in Mind. This called for clearly visualizing the ultimate goal then working toward it.

 

  • Put First Things First. This addresses priorities.

 

 

Interdependence habits

 

  • Think Win-win. The idea here is that there doesn’t need to be a ‘loser’ in order for there to be a ‘winner;’ instead, when one wins, everybody wins.

 

  • Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood. The goal here is active listening; truly hearing what another person is saying before you speak.

 

  • By working together with open minds, people can accomplish more and better results than they would individually.

 

Sharpen the Saw is the 7th habit. This means staying sharp and increasing effectiveness by renewing yourself mentally and physically.

 

 

The 7 Habits of a Highly Effective Workers’ Comp Program

 

Whether creating a workers’ compensation program from scratch or trying to improve an existing one, the 7 habits can easily be translated for optimal outcomes.

 

  1. Be proactive. Taking responsibility means anticipating and mitigating risks to prevent injuries from occurring. A hazard identification and assessment is a must for any workers’ compensation program; it not only can prevent a workers’ compensation claim, but it also helps create a culture of safety and shows employees you care about them. all injuries and illnesses as well as near-misses, and encouraging and listening to employees’ concerns about safety..

 

  1. Begin with the end in mind. If you were to imagine the perfect workers’ compensation program for your organization, what would it look like? Would it mean fewer accidents? Quicker claims processing? Faster reporting of incidents and near misses? Better investigations into injuries? What elements would be included? In designing or refining your workers’ compensation program you need to start by clarifying the vision of what you want. Working with others — managers, supervisors, employees, the carrier, TPA — you can brainstorm and come up with a model, then create a mission statement that includes the goals that are aligned with those of the organization’s. Achieving best outcomes is possible only when you’ve defined what ‘best outcomes’ means to your company.

 

  1. Put first things first. This is a continuation of the habit #2. In that, you have visualized and defined the ideal workers’ compensation program. This step is creating that program. You need to determine what the most important elements in the program are and focus on those first; the priorities that are both important and urgent.

 

  1. Think win-win. An effective return-to-work program is an example of a win-win situation; the worker wins by recovering and getting back to work and the organization wins by saving money and reducing lost productivity. Creating a win-win culture can be difficult, as many of us believe one person must lose for another to succeed. Instead of a competitive environment, a cooperative atmosphere can benefit all involved.

 

  1. Seek to understand, then be understood. If you’ve ever had a sales person try to push you into a product in which you have no interest, you understand the need to be heard. Active listening means just that — listening to what the other person says without creating your response as they are speaking. This is especially important when talking with an injured worker. Listen to his concerns and frustrations with an open mind — there could be a simple solution. Ask what questions he has and answer them. Spend a few minutes trying to better understand what he is going through.

 

  1. Synergize. 2+2 = 5; meaning the outcome is greater than the sum of its parts. This speaks to breaking down silos. Sharing information, brainstorming, and coming up with new approaches to continuing problems is invaluable. Keeping an open mind is key.

 

  1. Sharpen the saw. Now that you’ve developed a great program, you can’t rest on your laurels. A workers’ compensation program should be a work in progress, as you constantly strive to improve it. Measuring and analyzing results is critical, then you can find and implement best ways to approach challenges.

 

 

Conclusion

 

A company isn’t ‘lucky’ if it has few workers’ compensation claims in a given period. While that may happen on a rare occasion, organizations that spend time and effort developing, implementing and refining their injury management programs will see consistent

 

 

 

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.

Professional Development Resource

Learn How to Reduce Workers Comp Costs 20% to 50%"Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%"
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