Employers Hold Key to Speedy Return to Work for Injured Employees

Dec. 13, 2000
The key to keeping down the cost of workers' compensation\r\ninsurance claims and expediting an injured employee's return to work rests with employers.

The key to keeping down the cost of workers'' compensation insurance claims and expediting an employee''s healthy, speedy recovery and return to work rests with employers -- not injured employees.

This message was part of a presentation "The Fine Art of Negotiating Return to Work Settlements," given by Pamela Rippens, assistant vice president, Specialty Risk Services (SRS), at the National Workers'' Compensation and Disability Management Conference in Chicago last week.

Approximately 1,500 risk management specialists attended the conference.

"Resolving workers'' compensation claims is easier and less costly if a strong employer/employee relationship exists from the date of injury through the resolution," explained Rippens. "Employers have numerous opportunities to facilitate return to work, so it''s a matter of jumping in to make it happen."

Rippens told conference participants that this includes providing information on the demands of the work environment to treating physicians, inventorying and offering the injured worker modified or transitional duties within the company, providing an employer/employee advocate and using case managers as relationship managers.

Even something as simple as a weekly phone call to the employee to update that person on what is going on in the company can help an employee remain connected to the firm and come back faster.

Rippens cited one example of a West Coast employer who lowered claim costs by 10 percent after initiating an active return-to-work program.

"Savings won''t always be that dramatic, but when you add the soft costs to a company with extended worker absence, they can be quite significant," said Rippens.

Early reporting of compensation injuries also can result in significant savings.

A recent claim study by The Hartford showed claims reported 29 days or more after an accident result in about a 45 percent increase in loss costs.

"Handling workers'' compensation claims from the date of injury, through return to work, settlement and case closure is a cooperative effort among all the parties involved -- the employer, third-party administrator/carrier, physicians, case management firms and the injured employee."

by Virginia Sutcliffe

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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