You may have heard someone mention return to work or light duty in the course of discussing insurance plans. The questions that follow are; “is this worth it?” The proof is really in the numbers. While we cannot direct treatment from the outside, we can assist in the treatment process of a work comp claim. Insurance companies rely heavily on the employer to provide assistance in mitigating the total claim cost by providing light duty to an injured employee which will reduce the total amount of indemnity (aka lost wages) paid. This is a big misconception that I run into with business owners who always thought once the claim has been turned into the insurance company that their responsibilities end. So if you find yourself in a situation where PPE and mitigation efforts have failed and an incident occurs, you need to know the best steps to protect your company from a lingering claim.
The first step in a claim is obviously seeking medical treatment. Once the initial assessment has been made you will know the treatment plan and the employee’s current work status. If they are capable of performing light duty this is where a strong return to work policy is very helpful. This can help save money on the claim costs from lost wages while also providing a safe work environment for the injured employee. A return to work program can provide benefits to the business such as; reducing lost productivity, maintaining a working relationship with a valuable injured employee, and reiterating self-worth to the injured worker.
The medical provider can help direct these restrictions to the employee but in a staffing environment, you need to do a little work on the front end as well. You want to make sure the clients you work with will allow limited duty work at their location in the event of a workplace accident and you also want to make sure the return to work program is in the initial employee handbook so it’s clear this is your company policy. Here is where you need to make sure your attorney is aware this is something you want to add as different states will have different requirements.
So in summary there are so many benefits to adding a return to work program to your risk management profile. There are immediate claim savings as well as long-term implications to your experience mod that may not be realized immediately but will pay off in the long run. I am happy to discuss resources with some of the carriers we represent as well as reputable loss control vendors available for full reviews on your claim handling procedures. In summary, these small steps are worth it to mitigate costs to your company and assist in the wellbeing of your employees.
If you would like to read more about a return to work program IRMI (Insurance Risk Management Institute) has published a wonderful article at the link below that you may also find helpful.