Stop the Work Comp Severity Clock with Early Return to Work

Published on Wed, 11/06/2013 - 15:07

Any business owner knows that the best way to control workers’ compensation costs is to prevent accidents and injuries from happening in the first place. But when the inevitable happens and an employee gets injured, the clock starts ticking and the costs start adding up.

How can you stop the work comp severity clock? By focusing on the #1 cost driver.

The biggest cost driver in workers’ compensation claims is severity – driven primarily by the amount of time an injured employee is off work. So your highest priority for every workers’ compensation claim should be to keep days off work to a minimum and return that injured employee to work as soon as possible, through modified or transitional duty if necessary. After all, that’s the reason worker's compensation exists – to provide a pathway for transitioning injured workers, as nearly as possible, back to pre-injury earning capacity and potential.

Consider this …

One of the top 10 reasons employees hire an attorney to represent them in workers’ compensation claims is a lack of work with the employer. Think about it. When you leave injured workers sitting at home, they have no choice but to watch daytime TV with countless commercials promoting legal services. Injured workers who are left at home often feel unproductive, isolated and depressed. And the longer they are away from work, the more intimidating the thought of returning becomes.

So when an employee gets injured, you need to communicate and coordinate with the injured worker, the claims adjuster, the nurse case manager, and healthcare providers to stay on top of the injured worker’s medical status and physical capabilities. Be proactive about identifying alternatives to the injured worker’s regular job that will allow him or her to return to work immediately. Have the injured worker answer phones, file, sort mail, put boxes together, or shred papers. If necessary, offer sedentary work or reduced hours for medically restricted employees to get them back to work immediately following a physician’s release.

The point is – getting an injured worker back on the job doing something is one of the most crucial things you can do to minimize your medical, indemnity, time loss, and legal costs. Ask any workers’ compensation insurance provider, and they’ll confirm that employers who have proactive return-to-work programs have fewer lost workday cases, a lower rate of workers’ compensation claims incidence, and lower overall claim costs.

Early return to work is a win-win.

The benefits are undeniable. When you can get an injured worker back to work as a productive, contributing member of your company, it helps the employee:

  • Recover faster
  • Quickly transition back into regular duty
  • Maintain high confidence and self-esteem while recovering
  • Keep earning a paycheck and benefits
  • Maintain good relationships with bosses and coworkers

And it’s good for your company because it helps you:

  • Stay productive
  • Demonstrate that your company cares for its employees
  • Keep trained and experienced workers on the job
  • Reduce claim costs

Your employees are your most valuable asset. Every day an employee is off work costs you time and money… unless you stop the work comp severity clock. Talk to the workers’ compensation experts at Heffernan Insurance for strategies that are good for your employees, good for you, and good for business. Also, be sure to check out our webinar calendar for upcoming risk management webinars or visit our webinar archive for past webinar recordings.