Properly Designing and Implementing Transitional Duty Program Ensures Success

 

Big Mistake is Designing Program After Employee is Injured

 

The biggest mistake employers make with a transitional duty program is having a “sorta” light duty program.  The employer recognizes a transitional duty program is an important way to reduce workers’ compensation cost and realize the importance of providing modified duty/light duty work for an injured employee, but does nothing about it until an injury employee is placed on light-duty work restrictions by the medical provider.

 

For a transitional duty program to be effective, it needs to be properly established.  This does not mean identifying a light duty job for the employee once an employee has been injured.  It means having a written policy on light duty work that is known to everyone in the company.  When there is a written policy of providing transitional duty work, every employee will know that a light duty or modified duty job will be available and required of them, if they are ever injured on the job.  The supervisors and managers within the company should be educated on the details of the transitional duty program so they can properly explain it to any employee who is injured.

 

A transitional duty position should be designed for every current job within the company.  The transitional duty job does not have to be in the same department as the injured employee’s original job.  It can be anywhere in the company.  The placement of the employee in a transitional duty position outside of the employee’s regular department is beneficial to the employee by broadening the employee’s skill base and knowledge of the company.  Any training the employee needs to accomplish the transitional duty job should be provided during the first days on the temporary job assignment.

 

 

Transitional Program Should be Understood Throughout Company

 

All employees should understand that transitional duty jobs are temporary and are not a new permanent assignment for the employee.  If the transitional duty is going to last more than 30 days, the employee should be moved to a second transitional duty job that allows for increased physical assertion, but still within the work restrictions set by the medical provider.  The employee should be clearly told that as soon as the medical provider clears them to return to their regular duty job, they will be required to do so.

 

The business partners who are involved in the handling of the workers’ compensation claim need to understand that transitional duty is required of all injured employees who are able to work in some capacity. The nurse case manager and the designated adjuster or dedicated adjuster(s) assigned to your work comp claims should understand that your company will return all injured employees to work as soon as the medical provider states what work restrictions are necessary.

 

The medical provider, whether employer selected or employee selected, should be advised there is a transitional duty job available to the injured employee. The medical provider should be given both a copy of the physical requirements of the employee’s regular job and a copy of the physical requirements of the transitional duty job that will be available to the employee. If it is a non-emergency situation, the physical requirements or the regular job and of the transitional duty job should be given to the medical provider prior to the first medical visit.  When this is not possible due to the need for immediate medical care, the physical requirements of both the regular duty job and the transitional duty job should be provide to the medical provider prior to the employee’s second medical appointment.

 

The employer should never allow the transitional duty job to interfere with the employee’s medical appointments, physical therapy appointments or other medical treatment.  The supervisor in charge of the transitional duty job position should be provided the date of the next medical appointment immediately following the most recently completed medical appointment to minimize the interruption in productivity of the department where the injured employee is working.

 

 

Properly Designed & Implemented Program Ensures Success

 

The work comp coordinator within your company should coordinate the transitional duty position with the employee, with the supervisor of the transitional duty position and with the medical provider to be sure everyone is on board.  Any issue that arises with the employee working in the transitional duty position can be addressed timely by the work comp coordinator.  The work comp coordinator should also verify that the transitional duty job meets the work restrictions set by the medical provider.

 

The establishment and implementation of the transitional duty program before it is needed is the key to a successful program.  By designing your transitional duty program to accommodate the needs of the injured employees, you will ensure the success of your transitional duty program.

 

 

 

Author 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.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2013 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. 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 about workers comp issues.

Consider Using Third Party and Offsite Return to Work Options

Employers who are conscientious about the cost of the workers compensation insurance coverage know the importance of having an established Return to Work program. (See our Transitional Duty Policies and RTW programs). The employers who provide light duty or modified duty work for the injured employees lower the overall cost of workers compensation through lower claim cost.  Return to Work programs result in the reduction of the overall amount of time the employees are off work, a reduction in the overall cost of physical rehabilitation and a reduction in the overall cost of medical care. The lower claim cost results in lower workers compensation premiums.

 
 
Many employers have tried Return to Work programs, only to give up as the modification of the employee’s regular duties is often difficult to accomplish while maintaining any sense of productivity.  Employers are often reluctant to pay employees the regular wages if the employee is not accomplishing anything. The cost of wages paid to a totally unproductive employee often exceeds the increased cost of workers compensation. [WCx]
 
 
The dilemma of the unproductive injured employee who should be returned to light duty work, but the employer cannot afford the cost of doing so, has led to a whole new industry of companies that assist employers in a return to work program. There are companies, sometimes referred to as the reemployment service industry, that now specialize in placing injured employees in light duty work on a temporary basis. 
 
 
These third party return-to-work placement firms (RTW directory) often have contacts as various charitable organizations where they will arrange for the injured employee to work until the employee is able to return to his/her regular job without restrictions.
 
 
For example, consider the long-haul truck driver who injured his back unloading the truck. The medical providers advise the employee can return to work, but should not lift more than 10 pounds, should not stand for more than an hour and who should not be seated for more than an hour. The restrictions on lifting and being seated eliminate the truck driver from doing his normal job, as the job cannot be modified enough to allow the truck driver to work. The third party job placement firm arranges for the truck driver to work at a local charity sorting donated clothes. The work can be done either standing or seated, and the employee is allowed to change from standing to being seated at will.
 
 
The charity pays the employee for the hours. Often, the rate of pay is lower than what the employee would have earned in the regular job. The difference between the employee’s regular earnings and the employee’s light duty earnings is partially covered by the workers compensation insurance. For example, the employee was earning $600 per week and the temporary total disability (TTD) rate while the employee is not working is $400 per week, two-thirds of the regular wages. If the employee is working light duty for the charitable organization, and earning $300 per week, the employee would not receive TTD but temporary partial disability (TPD) which pays the employee two-thirds of the difference between the regular wages and the temporary light duty wages. In this example, the employee would be paid a TPD rate of $200 per week. [Calculated:  $600 regular pay minus $300 light duty pay results in a $300 reduction in earning capacity.  $300 X 2/3 TPD rate = $200].  This is the win-win situation every employer wants.  The employee receives $500 per week ($300 wages at the charitable organization plus $200 TPD) instead of $400 per week, while the cost of indemnity benefits for the insurer or employer is reduced from $400 per week (TTD) to $200 per week (TPD).
 
 
If the rate of pay from the charity exceeds what the employee would have made on the job, no temporary partial disability payments are owed to the employee.
 
 
The light duty placement companies do several things to ensure the success of the temporary duty process. They will interview the prospective employer to verify the job requirements are within the work restrictions given by the medical provider, prepare the employee for the job interview if one is required by the temporary employer, provide directions to the temporary employer, verify attendance, follow-up with both the temporary employer and the employee to be sure both are comfortable with the new working situation, and when necessary, review the new job with the employee’s physician.
 
 
If the employer can return the injured employee to work at the old job on a modified basis, that is the best return to work program. If the employer cannot return the injured employee to work on a modified duty basis, the placement of the employee in a temporary light duty job for another employer is always preferable to the injured employee not working. [WCx]
 
 
If you have questions about the return-to-work through a light duty job placement firm, please contact us for assistance and refer to our resource directory.

 

 

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.

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

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

 

©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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7 Ways to STOP Those Minor Workers Comp Lost-Time Claims

 
Many companies simply don’t offer light duty. Instead, they say to their injured workers, “If you are not 100 percent then you are no good to me.” These same employers then complain when they go over their loss run about how much they are spending on shorter (10-30 days) lost time claims.
 
 
Typically wage expense on these claims is an employer’s biggest expense. Some higher wage earners can rack up a hefty wage cost in a short amount of time. Meanwhile, the medical cost for their claims may be a few thousand dollars, tops. (WCxKit)
 
 
Here are seven ways to keep those little lost-time claims from adding up in the long run.
 
 
1. Create Light Duty Work for All Restrictions
Depending on company size, there are a lot of easy jobs a person with restrictions can do — freeing up a healthy employee to do non-restrictive tasks. Light cleaning, inventory, answering the phone, ordering parts and supplies — all of these are necessary tasks in every company. A person with short-time, restricted duty may be assigned to help on these jobs or other light work until they are able to return to full duty, always dependent on the restrictions. Light duty keeps the employee working, and makes it easier to transition back to full-duty work.
 
 
2. Make Detailed Job Descriptions for All Available Light Duty Positions
Physicians usually ask for a job description before they release an injured worker back to work. If you have a good breakdown of what the various job tasks are, it makes it easier for the doctor to decide if the employee can do those jobs. Pay attention to the details of these jobs as well, you don not want an injured employee making the injury worse through their light-duty assignment.
 
 
3. Make Sure the Employer Contacts the Clinic to Say Light Duty is Available
Who knows what the employee is telling the doctor about the day-to-day job duties? Some claimants wanting to remain off work inflate their job duties to make it sound like there is no way they could return to work until they are at full ability.
 
 
If the employer calls or faxes over a job description the doctor may feel more at ease about releasing an injured worker back to light duty. Also, some doctors flat out ask the employee if there is light duty available and most the time the employee will say no, even when it is known there is light duty, in an effort to remain out of work longer and collect a check before returning to full duty. Employers must follow up and make sure they talk to the right person at the clinic about getting the employee back to work in an assignment consistent with their medical restrictions.
 
 
4. Offer Full Pay for Light Duty Work Instead of Partial/Reduced Pay
A common deterrent to an employee not wanting to come back on light duty is the employer drops the wage rates to coincide with the light-duty job tasks. This action defeats the purpose of bringing the employee back to work on light duty. Even though the tasks are below the employee’s experience level, think of light-duty assignments in the short-term, and be flexible with the pay. The injured worker is not going to be on light-duty work forever and getting the worker back to work is the important thing.
 
 
5. Talk to the Clinic/Physician About Your Workplace and the Work it Performs
In addition to faxing a job description, ask to talk directly to the physician. This will surely make the doctor feel better about releasing an employee back to work. Talking to the employer reassures the doctor the tasks assigned will be performed properly within the medical restrictions, and that the employer will provide help on certain jobs if the injured worker needs it. In addition, most physicians can provide work restrictions over the phone instead of waiting until the next appointment to release the worker back to light duty.
 
 
If you cannot reach the doctor ask for the office manager or medical/nurse assistance. Tell them a job description was faxed and that you want the doctor to address whether or not the employee is able to perform the light duty tasks; and if not, why. The more persistent you are, the quicker the doctor will be to provide restrictions. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
 
 
6. Light Duty Work Tasks Can Motivate Workers to Get Back to Full Duty
Most people don’t like cleaning, phone work, or simple mundane tasks for very long. If workers know these tasks are a consequence of injury, they are less likely to milk their claim. Good workers hate being hurt and want to return to normal as soon as possible. If they know they will not be sitting at home idle, and instead will be answering the phone at work, it will shave time off of their claim and motivate them to be released from the doctor to full duty.
 
 
7. Think Of The Bigger Picture
Even if you do not have a lot of claims at your workplace, think about the cost in the big picture. Think quarterly and/or annually about the savings you will realize come the end of the year. As mentioned, wages are the biggest cost in short-term, lost-time claims. By keeping the injured employee working so they do not lose any time at all, you provide them with a job while they are injured, and also provide a service to the company. Before you know it they will be full duty without incurring any further lost time from their normal work duties. (WCxKit)
 
 
A good light-duty work program has a ton of benefits and you can get injured workers back to work utilizing the tips outlined above. This will not only save costs, but will also make the workplace more functional for injured workers. It is important to create and have on-hand, up-to-date, detailed job descriptions, as well as someone at your workplace following up with clinics to make sure they have the correct information regarding your light-duty work program. Once everyone is on the same page, your workers and your assigned occupational clinic will know what is expected of them when workers have a minor injury.
 

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.
 

 
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, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Six Tips to Get Your Employees on Board with Transitional Duty Programs

To carry out successful transitional work programs, risk managers must also help convince employees of the benefits of these programs.

 

The most critical element in any return-to-work program is keeping the disabled employee actively involved in the workplace.(WCxKit)

 

When a worker is injured, the employer must maintain contact with the employee throughout the recovery period so he or she does not become “psychologically disemployed.” The phenomenon of “psychological disemployment” occurs when employees are away from the work environment for an extended period. During this period, employees begin to perceive themselves as having become “distanced” from the company — that is, the same company paying their workers compensation benefits.

 

To gain employees acceptance, transitional work programs must be carried out properly.

 

  1. The company should publicize the program in a positive manner. This requires ensuring employees understand that transitional work programs will keep them productive during their convalescence.

 

  1. A company must apply its return-to-work policy equally to all employees.

 

  1. Employers should schedule weekly meetings with the injured employee throughout the convalescence period. These meetings are a good way to obtain an informal status report concerning the types of physical activities the employee is able to engage in, the treatments the employee’s physician has prescribed or any problems the employee may be encountering.

 

This weekly contact underscores the companys expectation that the employee will return to work in some capacity as an active part of the work force.

 

Weekly progress meetings allow the company to demonstrate its concern about the continued welfare of the employee.

 

  1. Send the employee “Get Well” cards and other remembrances throughout the convalescence.

 

  1. Ensure that the company doctor or physician consultant talks to the injured employees treating physician about initiating a return-to-work plan at the earliest possible juncture during the convalescence.

 

The physician consultant can telephone the treating doctor and discuss the status of an employees convalescence on a doctor-to-doctor basis.

 

Often, treating physicians are more willing to discuss a patients progress with another physician. This allows the physician consultant to discuss the medical aspects of the employees claim, such as the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment plan and then work with the treating physician to establish an estimated return-to-work date.(WCxKit)

 

  1. It is critically important return-to-work programs become part of the corporate culture supported 100% by management. Thus, it becomes part of employees expectations that if they “go out on workers compensation,” they will return to work shortly in some form of transitional work capacity.

 

Transitional duty is the Way to go – how do you sell your employees on the idea? Find out five methods by following #WorkersComp.

 

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.
 

WC IQ TEST:  http://www.workerscompkit.com/intro/

WORK COMP CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

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

 

WC GROUP:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups?homeNewMember=&gid=1922050/
SUBSCRIBE: 
Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

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.

 

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/
SUBSCRIBE: 
Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

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.

Navigating the Return to Work Maze with Transitional Duty

Many companies use transitional work programs to return temporarily injured employees to the workforce in a limited capacity until they are physically able to resume their original, full-time duties.

 
This is a good idea because the longer an employee is out of work, the less likely they are to return EVER. (WCxKit)
 
No one is suggesting cheating employees out of benefits, rather, keep your company’s financial health and your employees’ mental health in mind.
 
Sitting around on a couch and receiving partial payment really isn’t good for anyone. Most people do better if they have a destination to go to each day.
 
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.
 
While employers have traditionally used transitional duty programs only for work injuries, many companies are adopting them for non-occupational injuries as well.
 
If an employee can come back at half-capacity or perform duties related to his or her job, though not the entire job, this benefits both the company and the employee.
 
Transitional work positions can be located in the same or a different department, or even in another company or operating division. Some employees perform transitional work program duties in the community as a volunteer in an employer-sponsored volunteer activity, or in a commercial vocational rehabilitation return-to-work center. In these instances, employers should provide transportation for the employee to the work facility to demonstrate continued involvement and concern for his or her recovery.
 
Forward-thinking companies may use transitional duty for maternity leave, bereavement, mental illness, addiction and some types of sick time. These companies are taking a comprehensive approach to “absence management.”
 
Transitional work programs have the advantage of allowing injured employees to regard themselves as “actively employed” and thus productive and valuable members of the workforce.
 
This is good for your employee.
 
When a worker is injured, the employer must maintain contact with the employee throughout the recovery period so he or she does not become “psychologically disemployed.” The phenomenon of “psychological disemployment” occurs when employees are away from the work environment for an extended period. During this period, employees begin to perceive themselves as having become “distanced” from the company — that is, the same company paying their workers compensation benefits.
 
These programs are also financially beneficial for the company because by keeping the employee at work, the employer realizes significant workers compensation cost reductions.
 
Transitional work programs also help decrease short- and long-term disability insurance or wage continuation costs for non-occupational injuries.
 
And 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.
 
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 after the injury.
 
Significantly shortened workers compensation claims in turn result in lowered indemnity costs as the companys workers compensation loss experiences shows overall improvement.
 
Concerns suggest the primary barriers to setting up transitional work programs are attitudinal in nature.(WCxKit)
 
Therefore, to implement successfully transitional work programs, risk managers must help convince their companies, company employees and treating physicians that transitional work programs are beneficial for all concerned.
 
You need transitional work duties available in your workers compensation program. Find out why #WorkersComp.
 

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/
SUBSCRIBE: 
Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

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.

Four Things the Treating Physician Can Do to Help Implement a Transitional Duty Program

An important part of transitional work programs is getting the injured employees treating physicians to agree to their patients’ participation. A good communication piece,  such as "Brochure to Treating Physicians" can be a valuable tool in letting the doctors your company works with to know your expectations.

 
1. Obtain an agreement from the treating physician not to prescribe “no work” for the employee without first discussing the matter with the employer.
 
An injured employee may be able to function in a transitional work capacity much sooner if such a program is already in place.
 
2. Employers should ensure their doctors or physician consultants remain in regular contact with all treating physicians.
 
The company doctor should receive periodic reports on the patients progress. During the treatment process, the company doctor or physician consultant should also fax the treating physician transitional work job descriptions so the physician can determine if the patient is able to perform the tasks listed in the description. (WCxKit)
 
3. The treating physician will describe the injured employees physical capabilities throughout the convalescent process, and whether the employee can work in any capacity. Some TPAs employe doctors, called peer-to-peer doctors, who enage is this type of liason to discuss the injured employee's condition.
 
4. Companies should request a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) which is a physical examination assessing a person’s capacity for physical exertion and range of motion activities. Sometimes, FCEs are done by physical therapy operations, and this is a good option also. The treating physician orders the FCE. Make the treating phsycian know you want to use FCE's as an indemnity cost control technique.
 
Transitional work programs are much easier to establish than one may imagine. It is a commonly held belief that once employees become injured or ill, they must remain out of the workplace for an extended period of time.
 
This, of course, will result in lengthy and costly workers compensation claims costs. This traditional perspective is being altered by employers who, due to a changing economic climate, are developing methods to reduce their workers compensation and disability costs.
 
Many employers now take a more active role in coordinating the activities of the injured employee and the treating physician by carrying out transitional work programs, which generate the expectation that the employee will return to work in some capacity within a specified period of time.
 
These newly held assumptions benefit both the employee and the employer. For employers, transitional work programs are helpful because they reduce costly workers compensation claims.
 
And employees benefit by maintaining a positive self-image while remaining a productive member of the work force.
 
The phenomenon of “psychological disemployment” occurs when employees are away from the work environment for an extended period. During this period, employees begin to perceive themselves as having become “distanced” from the company — that is, the same company paying their workers compensation benefits.(WCxKit)
 
Ideally 95% of employees will return to work within four days. Best practice is 90% of employees never leave the workplace, receiving treatment on-or-off-site and returning to a transitional duty job as soon as they are medically able to do so.
 
 
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/
SUBSCRIBE: 
Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

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@
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Learn 15 Cost Savings From Transitional Duty in Workers Compensation Programs

Every workers compensation insurance company, every insurance consultant, LowerWC website and blog, and just about anyone else who understands the field of workers compensation recommends employers have a Return to Work (RTW) program. As an employer you hear repeatedly how a RTW program will substantially reduce your cost of workers compensation – as much as 20% to 50%.

 

Too often the workers comp experts state the employer will achieve cost savings from a transitional duty or early RTW program without explaining exactly what the cost savings are. Or, they state the RTW program shortens the life of the claim resulting in a lower claim cost and a lower experience modification factor being used in each of the next three years when your next workers comp premium is calculated. That is very true, but there are many other cost savings resulting from a transitional duty or early RTW program. Let’s consider some of them.

 

The advantages and benefits from a transitional duty or early RTW program include:

 

  1. Lower claim handling cost by shortening the life of the claim, often preventing a medical only claim from becoming an indemnity claim (this can have a majorimpact on your experience modification factor mentioned above).
  2. Lower medical case management cost as employees who return to work on modified duty have an overall faster recovery time than employees who are not offered transitional duty.
  3. A significant decrease in legal defense expenses as few employees who are back at work contest their workers comp claims before the workers comp board or court.
  4. If the employee rejects the transitional duty job, the probability of success of a request before the workers comp board to terminate benefits is much higher than when no job offer has been made.
  5. An increase in settlement leverage when a valid job offer has been made to an employee.
  6. An increase in employee morale which results in lower absenteeism.
  7. A reduction in the replacement labor costs (including the expense of locating, hiring and training additional staff to do the work of the injured employee).
  8. A decrease in overtime wages for other employees to do the work of the injured employee.
  9. The loss of productivity is minimized.
  10. Lower wage replacement cost – either salary continuation or indemnity benefits paid. Remember, sometimes employers pay employees MORE than the wages earned in their own workplace if an employee works elsewhere and then cannot work due to the injury on Job #1.
  11. Lower medical cost as the recovery time is shorter for employees who remain active after an injury. (WCxKit)
  12. A lower frequency of lost time claims as the employees know they are expected back at work as soon as their physician allows them to perform modified duties.
  13. Lower use of Family Medical Leave Act time.
  14. A reduction in American with Disabilities Act (ADA) claims.
  15. A shorter claim duration which decreases the amount of time management must devote to following the claim.

 

 

To calculate some of the monetary savings, use the Modified Duty Calculator:  http://www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

While we are focusing on the employer’s cost savings of transitional duty and an early RTW program, the employee also benefits from transitional duty. We will cover those in a subsequent article.

 

A properly managed transitional duty position will have significant cost savings for the employer. The cost savings are both immediate and in the future for the employer. The smart employer will plan for the transitional duty and early RTW program to maximize their cost savings.

 

 

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. Contact:  RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.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.

 

©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.

 

When Employee Reaches Maximum Medical Improvement Get Disability Rating and Consider ADA Requirements

Disability Rating

Among the first  items in the adjuster’s Action Plan to settle the claim is to establish the value of the claim.  For the adjuster to establish a proper evaluation of the claim, a thorough review of the medical reports is needed immediately following the employee reaching Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI).   The review of medical reports is not limited to the treating physician(s) medical reports.  It should include a review of a medical treatment synopsis completed by the nurse case manager or medical director and the report(s) of an Independent Medical Examiner (IME) and/or Peer Review where permitted. 

When the treating  doctor determines the employee has reached MMI, the doctor will assign a disability rating, either a Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) rating or a Permanent Total Disability rating (PTD).  In those few states where a “schedule” is used to determine the amount owed to the employee for the disability rating, and the Industrial Commission or Workers’ Compensation Board or judicial system does not allow any deviation from the schedule, the settlement value of the workers’ compensation claim is straightforward.   In most states, the value of the disability schedules becomes diluted making the settlement of workers’ compensation claims much more varied. (workersxzcompxzkit)

Transitional Duty Program

A significant portion  of large workers’ compensation claims can be reduced or eliminated through the proper use of a transitional duty program.  Resource:  Transitional Duty Cost Calculator, a FREE on-line tool: http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php The Risk Management Department should establish a transitional duty program and be sure all departments implement it.  All employees should return to work as soon as medically able. When injured employees remain at home, they risk becoming psychologically “dis-employed.”  Or, put another way, they like staying home and are not inclined to return to work. 

Ending Transitional Duty – A RTW program brings the injured worker into the familiar workplace – an environment where they are comfortable, can be with their work associates and feel productive while healing.  RTW programs are always designed to meet the abilities of the injured person based on medical assessment and, most importantly, have an end date.  The end date must be somewhat flexible and the HR department must discuss reasonable accomodations under the ADA once the employee reaches MMI, if the employee wishes to have an accomodation.  Employees can not simply be terminated if they are not back to work at an arbitrary end of leave date.  This is an issue you must discuss with HR or Legal.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Issues
For employers falling within the jurisdiction of the ADA, there may be ADA implications when an employee is capable of returning to work but the employer does not have a transitional duty program. There are ADA requirements for employees with permanent medical restrictions affecting major life activities.

If an employee has restrictions and but can perform the essential functions of the pre-injury job with or without accommodations, there must be a process in place to discuss this with the employee to determine how to make a workforce accommodation. The key questions are: Is there a request for reasonable accommodations and can we provide it?

Make sure to work with your broker and TPA so all requirements are considered and those under the purveiw of the TPA are included in the account instructions.

Author Robert Elliott  can be contacted at: Robert_Elliott@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

“FRAUD PREVENTION” PODCAST click here: http://www.workerscompkit.com/gallagher/mp3
By: Private investigator with 25 years experience.

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

©2009 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Initial Steps To Set Up Transitional Duty Program to Reduce Workers Comp Costs

A significant portion  of  large workers' compensation claims can be reduced or eliminated through the proper use of a Return-to-Work program.  The Risk Management Department should establish a transitional duty program and be sure it is implemented by all departments.  It should start with the new hire package, explaining that all employees with a workers' compensation injury are expected to return to light duty work as soon as their doctor will permit them to do light duty work. 

The adjuster,  or the nurse case manager depending on how your program is set-up, should contact the treating physician the day the claim is reported and let the physician know light duty work is available to the employee.  The longer the employee is totally off work, the more accustomed the employee becomes to watching daytime TV and living on the indemnity benefit. With the prompt return to work doing a light duty/modified duty/transitional duty program, the employee does not get acclimated to living on the workers' compensation indemnity benefit. 

Every company  can establish a transitional duty program.  One long-haul trucking company with a self-funded their workers' compensation program, required their drivers who were placed on light duty and could not drive to report in to the terminal each day.  They were then transported to a local Goodwill store where they sorted donated clothing.  With their light duty clothes-sorting job they could sit, stand, walk around, etc. as needed to comply with their doctor's instructions on their activity.  The drivers were paid the equivalent of what they would have made driving and the trucking company got a charitable contribution to write off.  More importantly the transitional duty program prevented the drivers from expecting to draw work comp indemnity benefits for a long period of time.

When an employee  is on transitional duty, make sure to follow the doctor's physical limitations closely. One way to escalate the cost of your work comp claims instead of reducing them is to have an employee's supervisor ignore the doctor's limitations and put the employee back to work on the employee's regular duties before the doctor has released the employee to full duty. In such a case, the employee may become upset and decide to retain an attorney.  (workersxzcompxzkit)

Instead of getting  the employee back to work sooner, the attorney – in order to increase his percentage fee – works to keep the employee off work longer than would otherwise be necessary. In addition, in the states where he can, the attorney will direct the employee to another doctor who the attorney knows will justify the employee staying off work.  Of course, this new doctor for the employee will in the end give the employee a higher disability rating then the employee  would normally have received from the original doctor.

Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers' Compensation costs, including airlines, health care, manufacturing, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He can be contacted at: Robert_Elliott@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-786-8286.

Budding Writer?  Contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

FREE WC IQ Test: http://www.workerscompkit.com/intro/ WC Books: http://www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/workers-comp-books-manuals.php

TD Calculator: www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php Return to Work in Unionized Companies http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/Return-to-Work-Programs-Unionized-Companies.php

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

©2009 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

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