By: Steven Babitsky, Esq.

What can employers do to help facilitate return to work for injured workers? Attorney Richard Swanson, speaking at the SEAK National Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Medicine Conference, suggested the following return to work strategies for employers:

Employer RTW Strategies

  • Contact with Employee
  • Care and concern for injured employee will maximize employee cooperation and successful treatment outcome
  • Maintaining constant communication with employee is key to successful RTW process
  • Claim Monitoring
  • Employers want to minimize disability payments by returning employees to work
  • Work with health care providers to coordinate care
  • Makes sense to have early identification of claims involving potential lost time
  • Adjustor should check regularly on pending claims to see if return to work

RTW Pitfalls to Avoid

  • No return to work before maximum medical improvement should be attempted if light duty requirements cannot be accommodated
  • Employers should make sure employee can return to work safely without reinjury
  • Avoid RTW programs that put employees at risk – e.g., forcing employees to drive or be around machinery when taking medication that might impair motor or mental functions
  • Light duty work should be meaningful (not watching TV all day) or employee will not fully cooperate

Light Duty Programs

  • Develop light duty policy – both temporary and permanent
  • Create or clarify job descriptions with essential job requirements
  • Work with Union in developing and administering list of light duty jobs
  • Union can assist employer (and WC carrier) in obtaining employee’s cooperation in considering light duty work options
  • Review list of available light duty jobs with employee to encourage investment in return to work
  • Create plan for RTW between employee, employer, employee’s medical providers and Union or attorney

Jason Parker will be presenting Return to Work: Evidence Based Skills and Strategies.

This pre-conference will provide a set of evidenced based skills and strategies specific to assessing Return to Work motivation, and determining risks and predictive factors of prolonged duration.  Research suggests that return to work motivation is comprised of 4 factors.  With an understanding of these factors we will then draw upon a set of skills and strategies that we can use them to improve compliance and outcomes. The outcome of the learnings is a scalable and workable model for participants that can easily be utilized and taken back to their jobs and implemented immediately.

Jason Parker will be leading the workshop.  He is the President and Senior Disability Management Consultant of CentriX Disability Management Services Inc.  Jason is the creator of the Return to Work Toolkit, which is the only strategic behavioural risk management tool of its kind.  The Return to Work Toolkit has been delivered internationally to over 1700 participants and is recognized as advanced training in Disability Management.  Jason has extensive experience in Disability Management and Stay-at-Work/Return to Work program with over 14 years of experience covering almost every employer group.  Jason oversees the leadership of CentriX as well as continues to work in providing direct consulting to organizations while maintaining his hand in case management.

The SEAK 33rd Annual National Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Medicine Conference will be held on July16-18, 2013 on Cape Cod, MA.

For additional information about the SEAK National Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Medicine Conference click here.

Steven Babitsky is the conference leader.