Benefits of Early Return to Work Programs

Workers compensation is a valuable benefit for society’s working men and women; however, few consider the potential non-physical repercussions of an employee put on temporary disability leave. The psychological impact of becoming a “disabled” employee is profound, even if temporary. There is even the possibility of a strained relationship between the employee and employer to consider, and also the related financial consequences for both parties. These strains can easily be avoided.

Managing employees’ quick and safe return when appropriate is in the best interest of both employees and the employer because:

  • For the most common claims, the workers compensation system tends to prolong disability and increase costs.
  • Injured employees who are out of work for a period of time longer than six months have only a 50 percent chance of ever returning to their job; for those who spend more than a year away from work, the rate of return drops below 10 percent.
  • Managing the transition back to work for the injured employee is the humane answer to a key failure of the workers compensation system.

Successful companies learn to control their health and disability costs with tools that restore autonomy to the injured employee and provide accountability measures for everyone. Getting your injured employees “off the couch” and teaching them how to take charge of their treatment plan should be a top priority. One of these sophisticated tools is the early Return-to-Work program administered by Proof Positive Consulting. After being initiated in 2004 during what many considered a “work comp crisis”, one of our client facilities was able to reduce their injury rates significantly in a very short period of time….even going 4 years without an OSHA Recordable claim and since maintaining the “goal” of acceptable standards.  It truly has been a Team effort at this California-based manufacturing facility, paired with an effective management team, corporate oversight and support, and a workforce that was willing to make changes, the Health and Wellness Room Program has helped them increase health & safety awareness both in the workplace and at home…..and maybe even contributing to a change in the attitudes and culture of their workforce as well.

The “Health and Wellness Room” Program has proven to:

  • Enhance the physical and psychological recovery process for the injured worker.
  • Reduce medical, disability, and lost time costs.
  • Reduce indirect accident costs.
  • Increase awareness of ergonomic risks and help to eliminate them.
  • Minimize the chance of re-injury with “post-injury” monitoring.
  • Encourage cooperation between employees and management.
  • Play a crucial role in the establishment of a more stable workforce.
  • Provide a trusted “outlet” for employees to seek guidance.
  • Enhance the injured employee’s sense of confidence and well-being.
  • Reduce OSHA Recordable claims.

6 Easy Steps to becoming an Industrial Athlete

Start Your Day Off Right: Warm up your muscles with stretching and simple exercises. This activity followed by breakfast is a great way to “prepare” for your day. And whatever you do, don’t skip your breakfast. Breakfast skippers tend to eat more food than usual at the next meal or nibble on high-calorie snacks to stave off hunger. Studies suggest that people tend to accumulate more body fat when they eat fewer, larger meals than when they eat the same number of calories in smaller, more frequent meals. It is as easy as grabbing a banana, handful of nuts, and a bottled water to get your day going in the right direction.

Get Plenty of Sleep: Not getting enough rest can have serious effects on your body, brain, and immune system. There are many side effects associated with lack of sleep, some seem trivial and not that serious, but they can progress and be dangerous for your health and also the well-being of others. Seven to eight hours is the current recommended amount of sleep for adults. It is worth noting that all bodies are different, so it may be that you need six or even nine hours; Children and teenagers need more sleep, usually between eight and twelve hours, depending on their ages. Their bodies are still developing and sleep is needed to help this development be as full as possible. Most of us know how much sleep we need to be refreshed the next day. The challenge is to make sure we get it.

Pay Attention to Your Nutrition: It is very important to eat a well balanced diet. Eating several smaller meals a day will boost your metabolism and provide you with energy more efficiently than eating all of your calories at one time. Meals should be balanced with several food types and colorful (fruits and vegetables providing the color). Skipping meals is also a bad idea and can lead to a slower metabolism because your body is going to want to store calories, instead of using them. This can even lead to weight gain and a decrease in energy levels. The Food Guide Pyramid suggests the idea that adults are recommended to eat 6 to 11 servings associated with whole grains, 3 to 5 helpings of fresh vegetables, 3 to 5 servings of fruit, 2 to 3 or more servings of milk and 2 to 3 helpings of meat on a daily basis. However, due to the complexity of these recommendations, the USDA recently announced the new recommendations using the “Food Guide Plate”. These recommendations can be viewed at

Avoid Excessive Alcohol and Caffeine: Both alcohol and caffeine are diuretics (meaning it increases urination and flushes water from the body). This can cause minor to major dehydration, depending on the amount of intake, medications taken, other medical conditions, or prior fluid consumption. Alcohol also contains many toxins that require more water to help flush them out and reduces our store of vitamins and minerals.
Dehydration caused by drinking excessive alcohol and caffeine drains potassium from the body, resulting in thirst, muscle cramps, dizziness and faintness. Alcohol dehydration also leads to the body turning off its anti-dehydration processes in body, which is a basic, vital function of our bodies. It is best, if at all, to drink only moderate amounts of alcohol and to use the one drink per one glass rule. In other words, for every drink of alcohol you have, you will need one glass of water to replace what is lost. Some medical experts also recommend taking a multi-vitamin and mineral replacements after a night of binge drinking.

Use Proper Ergonomics Everywhere: Ergonomics in the home is just as important as it is at work. Considering that we spend a lot of time at work, it’s true that ergonomic safety is a top priority. But when was the last time you considered your ergonomic health where you spend the other major portion of your daily life, at home? It may come as a surprise to you, but many ailments spurred by the neglect of ergonomics are fostered in the home. Take a look at these areas at home and see if you can make any ergonomic improvements.

Ergonomics in the Kitchen: Most of us cook at least one meal per day at home. In preparing and consuming our foods, there may be risks we are not identifying. There are now designs of common kitchen tools that try to eliminate excessive strains to the body. Try incorporating some of these products to make your kitchen experience a healthier one.

Ergonomics in the Garden: This area can be a place to retreat, relax, and even rejuvenate from a long day at work. What exists as a relaxation hobby for most can actually be an activity which puts incredible strain on our body. It generally involves bending over or kneeling for long periods of time and using tools which, can put excessive pressure on the hands and wrists. It is generally inadvisable to bend over for long periods of time in any situation. If possible, wear kneepads and try kneeling to do work at lower levels. Regardless of whether you bend or kneel, remember to take breaks and alternate tasks. Second, as in the kitchen, there are tool alternatives which alleviate pressure points while gardening. Search out tools such as spades and pruners that have have “natural” or “pistol” grips and feel comfortable when grasping them. This will insure gardening is not contributing to an unforeseen ergonomic issue.

Ergonomics in the Family Room: It is important to be comfortable and able to relax in your home. Unfortunately however, what “feels good” when relaxing might not always be the safest option. Many couches and chairs, for example, promote incorrect sitting positions which, when assumed for extended periods of time, can cause injury. And just like at work, it is important to make sure your sitting furniture provides the type of support your back needs. And remember, your favorite recliner is not a bed, falling asleep in it repetitively can have severe effects to your neck and back health.

Ergonomics in the Bedroom: In order to get the best night’s sleep possible, it is imperative to have a bedroom that keeps ergonomics in mind. The focus, primarily, should be on the bed itself and how you are lying in it. Be sure to choose a mattress that is comfortable and has enough support to provide you with spinal stability. Be sure your pillow offers good support and keeps your neck in proper alignment. Sleep on your back if possible or your side with your arms away from your body. Remember waterbeds? Sure, they were comfortable, but had no spinal stability. In addition to an ergonomically designed mattress, you should consider other ways to optimize your sleep position such as an ergonomic pillow or a leg spacer or pillow between your legs to maintain normal spinal alignment throughout the night. In doing so, you will reduce chances of injuries while you sleep and the “tossing and turning” effect, making sure you wake up as refreshed as possible. The American focus on ergonomics may have begun in the workplace, but it ought not to stop there.

Take charge of your Health and Fitness Plan: If you have an injury or illness, certainly, you should consult your doctor and find out what solutions and recommendations you should follow. However, that is not where you “shift” responsibility to your doctor for your well-being. The best patient advocate is you. Prior to your appointment, be sure to make a list of your symptoms and any questions that you want answered. Following the appointment, learn about your diagnosis, the types of treatment, and what you can do to insure the best outcome. The best patient is an educated one!