10 Tips to Improve Your Return to Work Program

Employers who successfully manage their workers compensation cost understand the importance of a strong Return to Work program. When an employee returns to work as soon as he is medically able, the indemnity payments are decreased, the medical and rehabilitation cost are lower and there is less of a productivity drop for the employer.  Returning to work sooner also benefits the employee by restoring a higher level of income, providing a faster physical recovery and promoting the emotional health of the employee.

 
All of the following suggestions may not apply if you already have a solid return to work program.  Utilize the suggestions, recommendations and tips that will improve your Return to Work Program. (WCxKit)
 
 
1. ALL transitional duty/modified duty assignments should be temporary.  If the transitional duty assignments become permanent assignments, you may create some bogus claims as employees seek the “easier job with the same pay”.
 
 
2. Be sure both the employee and the supervisor know and abide by the limitations and restrictions the medical provider has placed on the employee’s light duty work.  This will keep the employee from being reinjured and will keep the employee from quitting the light duty job because of the employer’s non-compliance with the light duty restrictions.
 
 
3. Make the transitional duty program a part of the business culture.  When employees know all injured employees are accommodated and required to work light duty, it eliminates resistance to the return to work program and it reduces the number of bogus claims made for financial reasons.
 
 
4. If you have multiple shifts, place the employee on the day shift while they are in the transitional duty program.  This allows for easier monitoring of the work the transitional duty employee is performing.
 
 
5. Keep all parties involved in the transitional duty program including the employee, the employee’s regular supervisor, the temporary supervisor if different from the regular supervisor and the medical provider.  All parties should be informed of any/all changes in the transitional duty work.
 
6. Work with the union steward to obtain the union’s buy-in of the modified duty positions assigned to the union members. 
 
 
7. Accommodate the employee’s medical appointments and physical therapy appointments.  Pay the employee their regular pay for the time they are at the doctor’s office or the physical therapy facility.
 
 
8.  Always be on the lookout for jobs and work that could be done by an employee with physical restrictions.  When the transitional duty job or task is identified, put the job description and work to be done in writing for when it will be needed.
 
 
9.. Do everything possible to keep the employee involved.  Integrate the transitional duty position into the mainstream of operations to keep the employee from feeling isolated. Require the employee to attend all staff or unit meetings.  Do not assign the employee to a transitional duty job that would be demeaning. (WCxKit)
 
 
10.  Interview each employee when they are released by their medical provider to return to their regular duty job.  Discuss with them what aspects of the transitional duty job they thought were beneficial, what aspects of the transitional duty job that should be changed and what ways could the transitional duty job be improved.  You will obtain valuable feedback to make the Return to Work Program stronger and better.
 
 
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 author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 
 
 Editor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Contact Mstack@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com. 

 
WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT GUIDEBOOK:  www.WCManual.com
 
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contactInfo@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

New Times for Transitional Duty, Modified Duty in New York

Things are changing in workers comp. Lost time has become something to be limited, a concern that did not always receive the highest priority in the past.

 
 
The reasons are clear: a less than powerful economy and a rising cost of living.  Return to work, for decades in NY comp, has been viewed as a way to deprive a worker of a settlement and a way to deprive a lawyer of a substantial fee. But a mounting sense of uncertainty has changed that.[WCx]
 
 
For the employer, having a plan, not necessarily firm written guidelines, for returning employees to have some form of useful activity will have large benefits, and will not meet with the forms of resistance encountered in the past. A lawyer who ignores a return to work offer made to a client is playing a dangerous game, as recent court decisions have shown.
 
 
Employers who are not large enough to warrant an ongoing RTW program have traditionally stated, “We have no light work”, but that misses opportunities. Naturally, prior to most accidents, the mid-size or smaller employers probably do not have a firm plan in place, but that does not mean that something, somewhere, somehow cannot be done.
 
 
Doing something without having a prior plan in place has certain advantages. It means that whatever is tried is more likely to be a good fit with the circumstances than a prior plan. What is planned when nothing has yet happened is built on assumptions, not facts.
 
 
The first, and strongest gain from an employer meeting with an employee and exploring a RTW plan is to shift the relationship for both from passivity to active measures. And that means a rise in morale for both.
 
 
If the employer cannot think of useful work within the limits on activity imposed by an injury, then both the employer and employee should consider a joint search for light, but temporary, work in the general area. The advantage to this effort is that the employee, and the employee’s doctor, will also start thinking in terms of return to work.
 
 
In all of this, the comp board, the carrier/TPAs and the lawyers have been set aside. The comp law, at least in NY, does not give any of those the power to direct, or prohibit, return to work efforts.[WCx]
 
 
RTW efforts encounter many problems, both small and large, which will be discussed in the next piece.
 


Author: Attorney Theodore Ronca
is a practicing lawyer from Aquebogue, NY. He is a frequent writer and speaker, and has represented employers in the areas of workers’ compensation, Social Security disability, employee disability plans and subrogation for over 30 years. Attorney Ronca can be reached at 631-722-2100. medsearch7@optonline.net

 


MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

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Building Support for Your Workers Comp Transitional Work Program

Although employees in a transitional work program assignment may be less than 100% productive, having an injured employee working part-time in a limited capacity is more cost-effective than having one who does not work at all.

Many companies, however, are reluctant to initiate transitional work programs. Some employers believe worker unions will not accept these programs, or the programs themselves will not be time- or cost-effective.(WCxKit)
 
But evidence proves transitional work programs can be very cost-effective.
 
A well-managed transitional work program can result in a return-to-work rate of up to 90% for injured employees returning to the job within four days following the injury.
 
Significantly shortened workers compensation claims in turn result in lowered indemnity costs as the company’s workers compensation loss experiences shows overall improvement.
 
Convincing Employers
To convince employers of the benefits of transitional work programs, risk managers should point out the key factors supporting their use.
 
First, the risk manager can demonstrate how the company will realize significant financial savings if a return-to-work program is established.
 
An employer can expect an average of 30% in savings for workers compensation costs for a well-managed return-to-work program that includes a transitional work program.
 
To illustrate, consider this example. Suppose for every day an employee is brought back to work in a transitional duty capacity, a company realizes savings of $100 per day. If the employer has 50 workers on lost-time status who return to work in a transitional job assignment capacity one day earlier, the employer would realize savings of $5,000 per day.
 
At a 5% profit margin, the return-to-work program would save the company $100,000. In other words, it would “cost” the company $100,000 to replace the $5,000 on the company’s bottom line if the firm has a 5% profit margin.
 
The risk manager can also point out how transitional work jobs can be as diverse and creative as the employer chooses.
 
For example, employers can establish transitional work programs by gathering work “wish lists” from their managers.
 
These lists could consist of those “to-do” tasks managers would like to accomplish but cannot due to time constraints and other more demanding work priorities.
 
Perhaps one department needs inventory taken, or another department requires a card filing system or someone to answer telephones. Companies can have recuperating employees perform these tasks, thus helping to boost productivity.
 
Companies should also attempt to make transitional work positions creative and productive. For example, by drawing from the “wish list,” employers can develop varied activities, thus keeping a recuperating employee gainfully occupied.
 
Three Types of Transitional Work Programs
Employers can choose from a variety of transitional work programs.
 
A. The first are alternate or light duty programs.
These allow employees to work at less demanding jobs until they are physically able to resume their original work duties. For example, an employee who normally does physically demanding labor could work in a more sedentary capacity, such as answering telephones or taking product inventories.
 
B. The second type of transitional work program is the modified duty program.
Here, injured employees original jobs are modified through engineering alterations of the workstation.
 
Employers use these programs to prevent aggravation of the injury. For example, an employer could install seats with added back supports and foot rests to relieve discomfort for an employee with an injured back.
 
C. “Work hardening” is the third type of transitional work program.
In these programs, employees perform their usual job-related tasks in steps of increasing difficulty until they regain the physical ability needed to perform their original jobs.
 
This allows the injured employee to remain at work, although at reduced hours. Sometimes, employees in a work hardening program will be placed in a simulated off-site work environment.
 
Here, they perform simulated assignments closely approximating the tasks they perform at their real jobs. Many vendors offer these work simulation programs.
 
During the return-to-work process, companies need to consider the employees physical limitations. If injured workers exceed their physical abilities, they may experience a recurrence of the injury causing unnecessary pain and suffering for the employee and needless additional workers compensation costs for their employers.(WCxKit)
 
Also, although employers can use transitional work programs for temporary illnesses and injuries, it is important to remember all absence and disability programs must be integrated with the requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
 
 

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker and website 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.  See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:  RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

 
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php
 
WC GROUP:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups?homeNewMember=&gid=1922050/
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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

©2010 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact
Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

10 Top Benefits of Return to Work Programs

We all know there is a huge cost-savings when implementing a Return to Work Program, but there are other benefits as well. Here are a few: 1 – Employees stay physically conditioned. 2- Recovery time is reduced. 3- Indemnity payments are lower and claims are less expensive. 4- Fewer attorneys become involved. 5- Employees aren't afraid of reinjury if the return gradually. 6- Permanency awards are likely to be lower. 7- Employees maintain marketable employment skills. 8- Employees' daily routine continues to include a regular work routine and maintain their identity as employees. 9- There is a lower likelihood that injured employee will become clinically depressed. A high percentage of workers who are out of the workplace become clinically depressed. Clinical depression is often a component of pain syndrome. 10- Lower retraining costs for replacement staff. For more cost-saving tips go to WC Cost Reduction Tips. Show the cost savings with the Transitional Duty Calculator. Workers' Comp Kit® is a web-based online Assessment, Benchmarking and Cost Containment system for employers. Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws are different. Consult with your corporate legal counsel before implementing any cost containment programs. ©2008 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Transitional Work Programs Come in many flavors

Employers can choose from a variety of transitional work programs. The first are alternate or lighter duty programs. These allow employees to work at less demanding jobs, different jobs until they are physically able to resume their original work duties. For example, an employee who does physically demanding labor could work in a more sedentary capacity, such as answering telephone or taking inventory. To find out how much transitional duty will save your company try the TD Calculator: http://www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php The second type of transitional work program is the modified duty or transitional duty position where their original jobs are modified through engineering alterations of the workstation. Work hardening is another alternative. This is where employees perform job-related tasks in increasingly difficulty until they regain the physical ability to perform the entire original job. There are work-hardening programs off site which can be an excellent alternative if there is no way transitional duty can be accommodated at the work site. Read how to get employees back to work at: http://www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/employees-back-to-work-sooner.php The key is thinking creatively. Most employees want to come back to work as soon as possible, so think outside the box to see how you can get them back within their restrictions, of course, as quickly as possible. For more cost savings tips go to WC Cost Reduction Tips.

Poll shows 43% of companies do not have Return to Work Programs

Workers' Comp Kit's informal online poll shows that 57% of companies have RTW (return to work) programs and 43% do not. This is a huge opportunity for employers to save money. If a company has a large deductible, they can save money almost instantly by returning employees to work faster. One of the biggest causes of high workers comp costs is a disproportionate length of disability. If an employee is injured January 1, and healed January 15, they should be back to work January 15 – not June 15 or July 15. You must bring the time out of work back down so that it is proportionate to the length of time of the actual medical disability. Since almost all worker's compensation systems around the work pay for lost wages, this will apply to many countries occupational injury systems. Top 12 Steps to Bring Employees Back to Work Sooner

  • 1. Have a Transitional Duty Policy that requires participation when an employee is injured.
  • 2. Communicate your program to the workforce in a positive way so it becomes part of your corporate culture.
  • 3. Show management the cost savings of an effective transitional duty program with our Transitional Duty Calculator (below).
  • 4. Establish a goal to bring 90% or more of injured employees who would lose time from work back to work within 1-4 days after in the injury.
  • Click here for more TIPS www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com/employees-back-to-work-sooner.php

For more cost savings tips go to WC Cost Reduction Tips. Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws are different. Check with your legal counsel before implementing any changes.

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