Understanding the Benefits of a Return to Work Program
At CompSource Mutual, we constantly look for ways to reduce or contain costs for our policymembers. One important cost savings tool is having a return to work (RTW) program. Studies have shown that injured employees recover faster the sooner they return to work. Additionally, businesses can decrease claims costs and limit the need for replacement staff by returning the injured employee to work as soon as they are able.
To realize the full benefits of a RTW program, organizational communication is critical. When employees are first hired, they need to be educated on the company’s RTW program so they know what is expected of them. Also, when introducing a RTW program, the staff will need to be advised of any changes, the benefits and company expectations for those injured on the job.
Implementing a RTW program can:
- Reduce workers’ compensation costs by reducing or eliminating temporary and permanent disability payments
- Reduce employee turnover
- Maintain business operations – productivity
- Reduce and/or avoid litigation
- Reduce medical cost
- Discourage fraudulent claims
- Increase safety awareness and injury prevention
- Reduce OSHA recordable lost time days
- Promote wellness to the injured employee by allowing them to maintain normal work-life routines
How to Get Started
While developing a comprehensive return to work program can take time, here are 4 steps to help you get started.
1. Appoint a RTW Coordinator
It is important that your organization assign a person to be the designated coordinator of the RTW program. In some organizations, a person from human resources, safety or a member of the management team might be a good fit. The RTW coordinator needs to have the time to devote to communicate between all parties. As the claim progresses, the RTW coordinator will have ongoing communication with the assigned claims adjuster who reports changes in care. As the injured employee’s condition improves, treatment plans change and restrictions will gradually change. The assigned claims adjuster will communicate the most current work status of the employee to the RTW coordinator. With this information, the RTW coordinator can strategize how to modify job assignments when the treating physician is ready to release the employee to return to the workplace under limited/restricted duty.
2. Develop a Written Policy
Your organization should develop a written policy that details the company’s expectations of employees and expresses the management’s commitment to the program. The policy should be communicated with employees:
- When the program is first implemented
- At the point of hire for new employees
- Annually to all employees
3. Select a Physician Partner
A key component of the RTW program is selecting the right physician partnership to handle employee care. CompSource Mutual’s claims department can help you identify in-network providers. The doctor will need to have:
- A basic understanding of what type of work is done at the business so they can help identify appropriate work restrictions.
- Written job descriptions detailing the essential job functions (including bending, lifting, sitting, standing etc.).
4. Establish a List of Transitional Jobs
The company will need to identify safe, meaningful and productive transitional duty positions. These positions should be considered when the employee cannot work a full shift or if they require light duty. Keeping in close communication with your assigned claims adjuster at CompSource Mutual is important so they can manage the employee compensation benefits according to their current work status. CompSource Mutual has the most experienced staff in the state to help you implement your own RTW program. For more information contact CompSource Loss Prevention at (405) 232-7663 ext. 3751 or (800) 347-3863 ext. 3751.