Most Injured Employees Milk Their Time on Light Duty: Fact or Myth?

Do employees really try to stay out of work longer than necessary when they get injured on the job? To accurately answer this question, there are two key factors that need to be looked at – the employee’s personality and the conditions surrounding your return to work program.

In order to weed out the few who would take advantage of a more lenient return to work program, employers are forced to come up with programs that appropriately balance the day to day routine that employees crave with a job that is productive and meaningful, while still making the program a deterrent to prevent employees preferring the return to work program over their regular job.

Employees, in general, want to return to work as soon as possible for many reasons. Having friends in the workforce, the need for a steady daily routine, and the fear of becoming de-conditioned while not working, to name a few. However, every so often, you will come across an injured employee who does not worry about any of these things and would rather look at being injured as paid time off than an irritating interruption of their daily routine. Even though these employees make up a small percentage of the overall workforce, they are responsible for the strict conditions of many return to work programs.

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If You Don’t Talk to Your Employees About Workers’ Compensation, Someone Else Will!

There are some employers who believe that communicating the details of how workers’ compensation works with their employees will increase the likelihood that their employees will file a work comp claim. For this reason, many of these employers decide not to talk to their employees about workers’ compensation.

While they may think that this is saving them money, it may actually be costing them more than they think. Generally, employees who have questions about workers’ compensation are going to seek out the answers to those questions and if you are unwilling to give them the answers they are searching for, they will be forced to get their information elsewhere. Most of the time, if the employer does not answer an employee’s questions about workers’ compensation, the employee then decides to seek out the advice of a lawyer. So, now the employee is not only getting their information from an outside source rather than from you, but you have also just successfully alienated yourself as the “bad guy” in the situation.

I cannot stress enough the importance of good communication in any employer/employee relationship. Answering an employee’s questions fully and honestly will not only give you more control over the situation, but it will also serve to build up their level of trust in your company which, we all know, results in higher productivity and a lower turn-around rate.

Accident Investigations: An Essential Tool in Every Work Comp Management Program

Performing accident investigations when an employee gets injured is an important step in carrying out your company’s work comp management program. The first reason that comes to many people’s minds for conducting an accident investigation is probably to prevent a fraudulent claim from being filed, but there are many other good reasons for conducting these investigations.

Accident investigations help to identify the root cause of the injury. Was an inadequate workstation to blame? Or, maybe a malfunctioning tool or machine? If it is found that one of these scenarios was the cause of the accident, they can be promptly corrected before another employee suffers a similar fate. Maybe the employee had a pre-existing problem with their injured body part. Or, maybe they were doing something that they weren’t supposed to be doing so there is no equipment that needs to be fixed.

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Showing Compassion for Employees on Disability Can Reduce Work Comp Costs

What happens when an employee gets injured while on the job and goes on temporary disability? They can’t come into work anymore and are forced to sit at home, or they’re in the hospital with almost no contact from anyone at work. In many cases, the only work-related person who they get to talk to is the claim adjuster. They become cut-off from their peers and supervisors.

Sadly, this kind of treatment often leads the employee to feel lost, scared, abandoned, and perhaps even angry. They begin to feel as if they are not wanted around and that their company doesn’t really care about them at all. In many cases, the result of such thinking will end up leading to attorney’s becoming involved and the employee ends up being out for far longer than would otherwise be necessary. This situation is neither beneficial to the company or the employee and most employees would rather it not come to that but feel that they have no other option.

Preventing this from happening can be very simple. All it takes is a simple phone call about once a week to follow up with the injured employee and ask how they are doing. They will be glad to hear from someone from work other than the claim adjuster and it is a good way to monitor the employee’s progress. Sometimes, the information that an employee reveals through conversation can help to better understand the notes from their doctor. A small gift such as flowers or a “get well soon” card is another nice gesture that may be extended to go that extra mile and really make the injured employee feel reassured that they are cared for and eager to return to work.

Cutting Work Time Loss can Save You Money!

One of the biggest causes of work comp costs is a lengthy time loss of work from a disability. If an employee was injured on Jan. 1st, and healed by Jan. 15th, then the employee should return to work on Jan. 15th – not June 15th or July 15th! Keeping your employees recovery time proportionate to the actual length of medical disability will help you save money.

There are several ways protect yourself from unnecessary work comp costs. Create or adopt a Transitional Duty Policy that requires participation when an employee is injured. Communicate this program to your workforce in a positive way so that it becomes part of the corporate culture. Creating a culture that promotes a safe environment improves confidence and awareness for your employees. Establish a goal to bring back injured workers faster. Develop a Health and Wellness Room program to help aid with transitional duty and safety re-education. Communicate with your Health and Wellness Room to talk about progress and obstacles that are preventing the injured employee from returning to work.

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Could Your Employee Workstations Use an Upgrade?

Warehouse employees are subjected to a great deal of repetitive stresses on the body and as a result, musculoskeletal disorders are their most common forms of injuries. One way to significantly decrease the number of musculoskeletal injuries sustained while on the job is to make their work stations more ergonomically sound.

Ergonomics is the science behind why things are designed the way that they are. Handheld tools, for example, may have ergonomic handles on them that decrease or disperse the force that is applied to the hand. Also, workstations can be designed in a way to maximize productivity while reducing employee fatigue and risk of sustaining an injury.

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Health and Wellness Rooms: A New Year’s Resolution to Keep Injured Employees Productive

As the year comes to a close, many people are thinking about their New Year’s resolutions. Businesses should be no different. It is time to evaluate your company’s plan for your injured workers. Make a resolution to give your injured workers a place to recover from their injury. Help them return to work and cut time loss and extra expenses from a worker’s comp claim.

Health and Wellness Rooms are a perfect fit for many companies looking to reduce their premiums and save money, especially when looking at your end of the year bottom line. Get your business out of the red and back into the black. Putting a Health and Wellness Room in your IIPP (Injury and Illness Protection Program) can help you save thousands of dollars and reduce your Insurance E-Mod rating.

Health and Wellness Rooms can provide your injured employee with knowledge and understanding of their injuries. It is a great place to track your employee’s progress during their recovery.  “Out of sight, out of mind” is a very relevant phrase when it comes to work comp claims. If you’re not monitoring their progress, or whether or not they are even following the plan given to them by their doctor, their injury can cost your business several thousand dollars.

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Have the Advantage Over Work Comp Claims

In tennis, the first point after deuce that puts you ahead of your opponent is called having the “advantage.” The dictionary defines the term advantage as “a beneficial factor or combination of factors.” When looking at worker’s compensation claims, you need to have the “advantage” over malingering or false claims that could cost your business a substantial amount of money.

Start by being on top of your hiring policy and standards. Look for quality employees that suit your business and keep a close watch on potential hiring risks. It is crucial for businesses to protect their “advantage” and be proactive about worker’s compensation fraud. Well developed hiring processes can help protect your “advantage” by being one step ahead of the employee. For instance, develop a firm policy when it comes to drug testing. Pre-employment and post-injury drug screening can make your workplace safer and avoid unnecessary costs related to accidents and injuries.

As the dictionary states, create a beneficial combination of factors to help keep you on the “advantage” side of work comp claims. A combination of factors would include having the right tools for the job, a strong ergonomic assessment of your business environment, an understanding of Worker’s Compensation, a plan for when injuries occur, and the support and dedication from your safety team to create a safe environment before and after an injury occurs.

The beneficial factor comes from the savings you will see by reducing your claims. Workers compensation claims are part of the reality of doing business. Proof:Positive can significantly cut your costs when handling that inevitable incident. A proper and timely reaction to temporary disability claims is critical in reducing costs. Let us help you develop a business that has the “advantage” over costly and sometimes fraudulent claims.

Leading Your Company Tribe Back to Productivity

I recently read Tribes, by Seth Godin and I found many of his insights relevant to workplace wellness. Here’s how I see the company tribe impacted by an injury.

Humans have a desire to belong. We crave membership in a group and we’ll go out of our way to find it. Groups easily come together around a common goal and if the goal is ambiguous, financial incentives will keep us engaged. With some basic leadership skills a manager can turn this scenario into a success.

On the other hand, it takes effort to break tribal bonds. The cohesion among a group requires force and persistence to break. Dehumanization, de-individuation, and direct threats to a member’s livelihood are tools that have been used to destroy tribes since human history began. Unfortunately, this gauntlet is what many employees must face when confronting a workplace injury.

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Preparing for Future Work Comp Expenses

We have all thought about and planned for the future at one point in our lives, with the hope of being financially stable, in good health, and happy. Well, businesses should be doing the same planning. Having a solid return to work plan for injured workers will help your business thrive in the future.

Does your business have a solid IIPP Program (Injury and Illness Prevention Program), a safety program, and an effective implementation of those policies? Being prepared means having something in place prior to a problem occurring. Take the time to map out the steps so your business does not get lost in the world of workers compensation. Utilizing an early return to work program can help you get injured employees back on the job, save money, and protect that dream of a successful business that cares about its employees and their health.

According to the California Division of Worker’s Compensation the state average weekly wage (SAWW) has increased nearly 4% in 2008. The new maximum for 2009 temporary total disability will be increased to $958.01 a week. With these increases your business needs to have a plan on educating, rehabilitation, injury prevention, safety, ergonomics and return to work programs. This plan will help you save valuable dollars being spent on claims that you did not plan for.

Eliminate the headaches involved with building IIPP programs or Return to Work Programs and Safety Concerns! Let Proof:Positive tailor a plan for your company that will help keep your workers’ compensation costs out of the red and keep you and your employees smiling!

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