Workplace accidents and injuries happen all of the time, across the span of every industry.  The results of these accidents can be quite expensive for employers, employees, and insurers. When a company implements a Return To Work program, employees who have suffered an on-the-job injury are provided with the opportunity to earn their regular wages while performing modified or transitional duty.  By doing so, the employer is able to eliminate the indemnity (wage loss) component of the Workers’ Compensation claim. The following highlights some of the important principles a successful Return To Work program.

Positive workplace behaviors

According to studies, positive behaviors in the organization have been related to successful outcomes after returning to work. The behaviors include the willingness of the management to invest in resources for promoting safety and the commitment of employees and the management to safety issues.

Assigning a Return To Work coordinator

A Return To Work coordinator, who might be internal or external to the company, should control the primary responsibility of managing the return process. He or she should offer custom coordination and planning suited to the initial and on-going needs of injured employees, make sure that necessary communication is not lacking at any stage, and also ensure that all parties involved in the process (such as the injure worker, managers, co-workers, etc.) understand what they are supposed to do.

Work accommodation

Employers may have to modify the original job functions of a position, or offer alternative duties, so that injured workers may be able to return to work safely and quickly. This modified work should meet the physical restrictions imposed by the physician designated to treat the employee.  To ensure the best possible outcome, the assigned modified work should be both meaningful and productive.

Return To Work planning

Proper planning should ensure that the returning employees feel supported, but also ensure that supervisors and co-workers do not have any resentment about the worker being given undue benefits or preference. Thus, it means more than simply accommodating work according to the physical abilities of the returning workers.

Training of supervisors

Supervisors have an important role in ensuring the success of programs on Return To Work. They should be included in implementing the Return To Work process for their subordinates. Their close professional relationship with the returning worker and their capacity to deal with the immediate work situation gives them a great advantage in resolving potential issues.  Including managers in the process also gives them the best understanding of the worker’s physical restriction, helping to ensure that there is no aggravation of injuries.