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 http://www.choosemyplate.gov

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!

Keys to a Successful Health and Wellness Room and Educational Light Duty Programs

While it is still work, Health and Wellness Room programs gives all your Injured Employees a Safe Place to recover from their work-related injury without compromising the treatment plan, wrongly motivating other employees, or skyrocketing your severity rates. It also allows for you to utilize the Health and Wellness Room Coordinator for other tasks that will help improve your safety performance, like, safety and equipment training, first aid, health and fitness training, etc. Five keys to implementation of a successful program include:

Management Connection: It is crucial for the Management Team to support the objectives of the Health and Wellness Room Program. Managers should help relay the importance of the Return-to-Work and Injury Prevention Program to the workforce. Also, communicate the need to control costs by providing employees with a safe and effective means for Light Duty. Educate your management team on the decisions that led you to form a Health and Wellness Room and the need for them to provide full support when requested.

Medical Management: Make sure the medical providers also share the same goals as set forth in your injury prevention program. Often, physicians are unaware of the high expense and loss of productivity that can occur from malingering claims and lengthy treatment plans…or they don’t care.

Claims Management: Insist that your claims adjusters establish an open line of communication with the Health and Wellness Room Coordinator. Often, the visual observations and daily discussions with the injured employee by the Health and Wellness Room Coordinator can provide to be a valuable tool for claims management. The Health and Wellness Room Coordinator will usually receive volunteered updates from the injured employee immediately following the appointment. We also hear about hobbies and “outside” activities that may conflict with their treatment plan.

Human Resources: The Health and Wellness Room is an aggressive and pro-active approach to controlling your worker’s compensation expenditures. Our success is also largely dependent on the execution of your Company’s Policies and Procedures when management support and even when disciplinary action is required. The Health and Wellness Room Program is still work and those attendee’s in violation of your Policies and Procedures can be disciplined accordingly.

Conclusion: The Health and Wellness Room Program accomplishes all of these goals. It is designed to be inspirational and motivating to employees who are injured on the job. It is also aimed to serve as a deterrent against those who don’t want to work and use the Worker’s Compensation Laws to their advantage. Don’t be mislead that “income loss” will provide incentive to return to work. It is often minimal and injured employees often prefer to stay home. No daycare, no gas, no lunch money, no supervisor…you get the picture.

Educate Your Employees on the Fundamentals of a “Tendon” to Reduce Workplace Injuries

Did you know, if you educate Your Employees on the fundamentals of “tendons and ligaments”, it can reduce your Workplace Injuries. By educating your employees on the basics of tendon and ligament injuries, you can drastically decrease the amount of repetitive motion injuries, sprains and strains, and other common OSHA recordable injuries. For example: if your employees know to use the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) technique properly, they can avoid many types of cumulative trauma injuries that can exacerbate day after day. We all know that exercise, stretching, yoga, or some type of daily routine will decrease our waist lines, but do you also know that it will lessen the chance of cumulative trauma injuries, arthritis, sprains/strains, and many other types of workplace injuries? Here’s a quick lesson: More…

High Fiber Diet Leads to a Healthy Colon

Eating a high fiber diet can drastically reduce:

  • colon cancers
  • polyps
  • rectal abscesses
  • and pockets of inflammation

These can be irritating and painful, and affect productivity at work. Eat whole grains, fruit, or take a fiber supplement to insure you are eating correctly. The general rule of thumb for determining if you have enough fiber in your diet: does it sink or swim? Ask your nutritionist or medical doctor for further information.

What you can do if you’re an employer:

  • consider high fiber options for your vending machines
  • encourage employee’s to have annual checkups
  • post healthy eating information on employee bulletin boards
  • create an educational program for your employees outlining healthy eating habits (contact Proof:Positive for more information or consulting options)

Early Return to Work Program

return-to-work-107x159.jpgEarly Return-To-Work” is our proven, post-accident prevention program that minimizes workers’ compensation costs and reduces overall losses. The program’s goal is to coordinate and oversee, with proper medical approval, a plan for employees’ return to work, even if it requires a temporary shift in job responsibilities administered through our light-duty program—The Health and Wellness Room. The Proof:Positive Return-To-Work program can:

  • Foster and enhance the physical and psychological recovery process for the injured workers.
  • Reduce medical, disability, and lost time costs.
  • Reduce indirect accident costs.
  • Minimize the chance of re-injury.
  • Encourage cooperation between employees and management.
  • Establish a more stable workforce.
  • Enhance the injured employees sense of confidence and well-being.

Learn more…

Workplace Injuries Cost Businesses Like Yours $554 Billion in 2003

Cost of on-the-job injuries, 2003The cost of on-the-job injuries can counteract every effort a company makes to maximize productivity, client service, and profits. The massive costs associated with these injury claims are an indication that companies are struggling to balance the need for a safe, productive work environment with the demand to increase efficiencies and improve profit margin. But as American industrialist Lee Iacocca once suggested, if you get the people part right, the rest will fall into place; on-the-job injuries will decrease, workers’ compensation costs will drop, and performance will peak. More…

The Proof:Positive Method

All Proof:Positive programs feature a highly-structured combination of classroom study, physical therapy, and wellness education conducted by medically-trained safety experts. Our commitment to generating results for our clients begins when we are contracted to…

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The Proof:Positive Model

Proof:Positive is a full-service consulting consortium that aids in reducing and preventing workplace injuries, neutralizing fraud, and saving valuable insurance dollars; our mission is to reduce injury and illness costs. We accomplish this by raising the awareness of health and safety…

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The Proof:Positive Objective

At Proof:Positive, our objective is to make worksites safer, more efficient, and more profitable. We accomplish this by providing comprehensive light-duty and safety programs that cut operational costs and speed return to work for employees on temporary disability.

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