Often times following an injury occurring in the workplace, an employer is unaware of how their employee is progressing and how much time it will take for the employee to fully recover. It is precisely this unawareness that not only leads to drawn out expensive Work Comp claims, but also leads to a prolonged return to employment for the injured employee. In fact, according to the Institute of Work Comp Professionals (IWCP), only half of all employees return to work after 12 weeks following a Work Comp Claim. The speedy return of an employee back to the workplace is not only beneficial to the employer because it cuts down on the size of Work Comp claims, but the employee also benefits by being able to continue to earn their full paycheck, rather than merely earning a fraction of it while they are on Workers Comp. In order to re-establish stability following a Work Comp claim, your company must establish a Recovery at Work Program (RWP). The cornerstone of an optimal RWP is communication between 4 major parties: the employer, the employee, the physician, and the insurance company. Here are some additional features and benefits of an ideal RWP:
- Before an injury abruptly occurs, an employer must educate its occupational clinics and employees on their RWP and also inform employees about the WC benefits available should an injury occur.
- When an injury occurs, make sure that the First Report of Injury is submitted upon the day the injury occurred. This will be the first step towards ensuring that the claim is resolved as soon and efficiently as possible.
- All 4 parties (Employer, Employee, Insurance Company, and Physician) must maintain constant communication with one another with regard to medical rehabilitation of the employee and reintegration of the employee into the workplace.
- Make sure that the employee’s progress is documented by the physician so that the employee, employer, and insurance company are fully aware of the working capacities of the injured employee. This information will also give parties insight as to how long it may take for the injured worker to reacquire the capability to fulfill regular day-to-day tasks of their employment.
- Create a Worker’s Compensation Medical Form and have the injured employee fill it out each time he or she visits the clinic. This form will provide all parties with disability information at the time of the visit, keeps the employee in communication with the employer after each appointment, and ensures that having the worker return to work is the central goal in all parties’ minds.
- Create a job bank or list of duties which will allow the injured employee to return to work and contribute in some capacity towards the productivity of the business. This list should include tasks which take into consideration the particular limitations of the worker determined by the Medical Form. This will enable the worker to go back to earning their full paycheck while also allowing the employer to minimize the impact of the claim on future Work Comp premium.
According to NCCI, losses are reduced by 70% if a worker returns to work within 5 days. The recovery process of all injuries obviously varies, but the majority of injuries tend to be minor. In the case of those minor injuries it has been proven that a RWP which emphasizes preparation, communication, and documentation facilitates the speedy reintegration of the injured worker into the workplace and lessens the impact of claims on Work Comp premium. Has your Work Comp premium been impacted by employees’ prolonged absence from work following an injury? Call Knight-Dik Insurance Agency, Inc. at (508)753-6353 for more information on Massachusetts Workers Comp Insurance.
Rami Dalli, CWCA
“The Workers Comp Guru”