When a school cafeteria worker suffered a fractured hip at work, school administrators were expecting the worst—the loss of a valued employee, ongoing disability payments, the cost of hiring and training a replacement worker, and a potential change in workers’ compensation premiums and experience modification factors. That was not the case, however.

Thanks to a well-designed return to work (RTW) program, the employee received the physical therapy and support necessary to return to the cafeteria and, after several transitional work assignments, signed a contract to resume her previous responsibilities for another year. “This is how things should work,” explains EMC Occupational Consultant Kate Benson Larson, who is part of a team of case managers who bring injured or disabled employees safely back to work as soon as they are able.

Good For Employers. Good For Employees.
A New York State Department of Labor report noted that programs that steer employees back to work may reduce workers’ compensation costs, litigation, wage and worker replacement costs, productivity losses, medical and indemnity costs, and utilization of short- and long-term disability benefits.

According to Larson, the benefits of a RTW program are more than monetary. “Experience indicates that employees participating in the program continue to live a productive lifestyle during their recovery period,” comments Larson. “In addition, an effective RTW program facilitates immediate and informative communication between employee and employer.”

Job Descriptions Are The Cornerstone Of RTW Programs
The first step in the process of implementing a RTW program is to complete a functional analysis, written description and possible transitional duties for all regular positions. “That was a crucial component of getting the school cafeteria worker back to work,” explains Larson. “We were able to provide valuable job description information to therapists, who adapted their treatment regimen to match the needs of transitional jobs as well as her original responsibilities.”

Want To Learn More About RTW Programs?
“Having a return to work program is a win-win situation,” concludes Larson. “Employers typically minimize costs while retaining the use of a trained employee. Employees come back to work and avoid lost wages and a long-term absence.” Larson encourages policyholders to review the many online resources at www.emcins.com for additional information about the steps in developing, implementing and monitoring a RTW program.

Thanks to an effective return to work program, a school cafeteria worker returned to productive work after suffering a hip fracture.

Posted 4:35 PM

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