What are the benefits of having a well developed Return to Work Program?
Safety programs are an integral part of any small business. By incorporating a return to work plan into a safety program a business can make an enormous impact on employee morale and limit the losses related to employee injuries. Limiting the amount of time an injured employee is away from work can help your business in many ways. First and foremost, it will help the injured employee regain their normal routine and give them a feeling of self worth. This is crucial to getting them back to work and contributing to the organization again. Humans are creatures of habit and the longer an injured worker stays off the job, the more time they have to create new habits. When injured employees create new habits, they are less likely to return to full time employment. This is when an insurance claim can really get out of hand and have extremely negative impacts on your business. Here are several tips to help your small business prepare for and execute an effective return to work program.
Before an injury takes place
Develop a formal return to work program
Most businesses have formal safety programs. When a business develops or revises their safety program, it is a great opportunity to incorporate plans for returning injured employees to the job in the unfortunate event they are injured. People are creatures of habit and the longer an injured worker stays off the job, the longer they have to develop new habits away from their work life. This is when insurance claims can get out of hand when an injured worker stays off the job long term or completely. This can have negative impacts on your businesses experience modification rating, which is the main factor insurance carriers use to determine what to charge businesses for premium.
Identify potential temporary light-duty assignments
The more light duty tasks you have in place for injured workers, the more likely they are to return to permanent work. For your business, the most important aspect when you have an injured employee is to get the injured employee healthy and to get them back on the job in any capacity as soon as possible. This will limit the damage to your experience modification rating, which is the number one factor insurance carriers use when deciding what to charge your business for premium each year.
When an injury occurs
Start the plan immediately upon injury/illness
Most workers compensation policies require a first report of injury form to be filled out quickly. This will help the nurses and doctors provide the best medical care to your employer, it will help the insurance carrier process the claim in a timely manner, and it will help your employee get back on the job sooner and in better health.
Take care of your employee
Healthy employees are happy and productive employees. Saying you care about an employee means far less than showing them you care when the time comes to help an injured worker. Taking care of the employees will give your business the opportunity to show the injured worker and other employees that you care about their health and well-being. This can help your business with retention of all employees and it will help the injured employee to recover from their injury as fast as possible. Most importantly taking care of your employees is the right thing for any business owner to do.
Report the injury promptly
The quicker you report the injury, the quicker your insurance carrier can process the claim and get your employee the help they need and deserve. It is important to notify both your agent and the carrier, but do not be alarmed if your agent tells you to call the carrier. Processing the claim is the job of the carrier, not the agency. Your agent should be able to put you in touch with the proper person or department at the carrier to get the process expedited. It is also important to keep the agency in the loop in case the carrier does not live up to their obligations.
Develop a process for Communication throughout the process
When an injury occurs, it is important to communicate with everyone involved what is going on. It is important for the business owner and key employees to know exactly what the workers compensation process is and what they should or should not say to employees. It is equally important to communicate with your employee, the hospital, the insurance agency, and the insurance carrier. The more communication the better when it comes to getting an injured worker the care they need and the insurance claim processed in a timely fashion.