Programs that successfully put injured workers back in the workforce depend on communication and cooperation, the insurance companies say.
On April 4, the National Council on Compensation Insurance published a report that provides insurers’ perspectives on the components and tools of successful return-to-work programs.
“One of the things that all insurance companies talked about in order for the program to be successful was management commitment,” said David Austin, affiliate services executive at NCCI in Boca Raton, Florida.
“It starts with management’s willingness to use return-to-work strategies in its business operations, and it must be a formal process embedded in the organization̵7;s culture,” said John Lacy, Vice President of Workers’ Compensation at The Hanover Insurance Group.
“When employees are injured, it should be clear that the organization wants them to return to work whenever possible, even if it starts in a modified work permit,” Lacy said.
Job descriptions for employees significantly improve an organization’s ability to do so, he added, and provide a basis for easily changing jobs to the physical conditions allowed for the injured worker.
“There may be opportunities for the company to show creativity in job descriptions for returning to work for the benefit of the injured worker to meet the constraints created by the claim to work skills,” Lacy said.
When doing residency, employers often overlook the opportunity to change jobs or create a temporary position for the injured worker through changed work tasks as they recover, Lacy said.
Another key component that is often overlooked is developing a relationship with a dedicated medical facility before the injury occurs, says Michael Noble, senior vice president at FCCI Insurance Group in Sarasota, Florida.
“Providing your employees, attending physicians, physiotherapists and insurance companies with a copy of your return program allows all parties to understand what options are available throughout the treatment and your goal for the injured employee to return to work as soon as possible,” he said. in Mr. Noble.
Some insurance companies use a network of medical providers who work with occupational injuries and who are knowledgeable about transition programs for return to work. The insurance companies emphasized the role of coordinator for return to work to ensure that the entire process runs smoothly, according to the report.
Other tool insurers reported that they used focus on training on the benefits of return-to-work programs, along with the necessary administrative steps to achieve success, especially for small and medium-sized accounts that may not have a formal program.
“Our claims adjuster and our loss control team work together to help our employers through the entire process,” said Lacy. “We offer education and training as well as a program guide for returning to work that can be easily modified and approved for use by our customers.”
“At the FCCI, Risk Control Consultants provide on-site consulting services to assist our clients on their journey toward implementation,” said Mindy Felicien, Risk Control Supervisor at the FCCI in Sarasota.
The company’s return-to-work program offers an overview for implementation, examples of “job task banks” with details of job roles and responsibilities, and various sample letters that can be used throughout the process, Felicien said.