October 15, 2012
Stay at work programs can save money
View from the Board | Grant McMillan
The longer a worker is off on a WorkSafeBC claim, the higher the costs to the contractor. An effective Stay at Work or Return to Work program will do a lot to trim your workers compensation expenses.
If the injury allows the worker to remain at work, with no time off, then this should be your first choice.
Stay at Work requires that you have a job that the worker can continue to do within your company.
This Stay at Work job may be a modification of the worker’s job at the time of injury, if the modified parts of the job can be done safely and not slow down the worker’s recovery.
In a modified plan, the physical demands of the job are reduced, while the worker is getting used to the work effort and recovering from the injury.
For example, the worker may be able to safely perform 75 per cent of the work, but the other 25 per cent of the duties may be beyond his capacity because of the injury.
Or, the worker may be able to lift or bend or stand within certain restrictions.
The worker’s physician and WorkSafeBC should be able to define these limits.
Then you, as the employer, must make sure that the limits are not exceeded.
The Stay at Work plan may require a different job, something that is productive and safe for that worker to do.
Whether it is a modified job or a new job, have a written description of the job and its physical demands so that everyone understands what is expected of the worker.
Plan in advance by thinking about different jobs that could be done by an injured worker, such as making deliveries, doing clerical duties, inventory control, small tool servicing, updating manuals, calling customers for feedback, checking on business leads, undergoing skills upgrade training and assisting with safety inspections.
Of course, you need to match the worker’s abilities with the job to be done.
Being innovative with your thinking may open up new job possibilities.
Like any other business process, rehabilitation should be a planned activity.
A California study of thousands of rehabilitation cases found that 84 per cent of workers, who completed rehabilitation plans, returned to work.
This compared to only 45 per cent who returned to work without a plan.
Stay at Work is by far the most effective of these rehabilitation plans.
It is the best way to maintain the work connection and assist the worker back to the fullest possible recovery.
For help with Stay at Work planning, the Council of Construction Associations (COCA) recommends that you call the WorkSafeBC Construction Nurse Line at 1-877-633-6233.
The nurse adviser can look at all of the information on the claim file and give you a better idea about the nature of the injury.
They can also let you know what sort of action on your part would be best.
My next column in this series on claims management will deal with the situation where the worker is injured badly enough that a Stay at Work program is not possible.
In that case, Return to Work becomes the strategy.
Grant McMillan is the president of the Council of Construction Associations (COCA), which represents the interests of 16 construction associations in B.C. on WorkSafeBC matters. Grant is also a member of the Journal of Commerce Editorial Advisory Board. Send comments or questions to email@example.com.
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