Building a Return to Work Program Part II
by Katrina Mattila

Building a Return to Work Program Part II

Building a return to work program can take some time, but the benefits are well worth it. It will be a team effort coordinating employees, medical providers, supervisors, human resources, insurance claims adjusters, and anyone else you feel is important to the process. Here are some tips on how to get started.

  • Establish a key person who will be responsible for managing the relationship with the people stated above. They will be the liaison for all work-related and non-work related injuries and illnesses.
  • Develop a written return to work program and make sure it is a living breathing document that is discussed often.
  • Have written job descriptions. This can help when an injured employee needs to return to work on light duty. A health care provider can review the job description and provide recommendations on what the injured employee can do.
  • Do a job safety analysis. This involves observing employees doing their jobs and identifying possible injuries, and also discussing with employees what injuries or possible injuries they see. This can be used to develop solutions of how to avoid injuries and what safety training may need to do be done.
  • Select a medical care provider is who is well versed in treating occupational injuries and has knowledge in the claims process. In Michigan, the employer/insurance carrier can dictate the medical care provider for the injured employee for the first 28 days.
  • Provide orientation and training programs for new and transferred employees. Part of this training is to explain the return to work program and the purpose so employees know exactly what to do and what to expect if they are injured.
  • Establish an incident investigation process. If an employee is injured, the employer should be looking into the root cause of the injury to prevent it from happening again.
  • Return the employee to work whether it be in a temporary assignment or what they had been doing if they have medical clearance.

Return to work programs offer injured employees the best chance for a quick and long term recovery by returning them to work as quickly as possible. Proactive safety management also helps to prevent injuries from happening in the first place.  Develop a culture of safety for a positive and safe work environment.

*Certified Authority on Workers’ Compensation written by Accident Fund Group and Olivet College

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