Susan Diulus

Thursday, 26 February 2004 08:33

Transitional work programs

National statistics show that indirect costs for a workplace injury that becomes a lost-time claim are four times greater than any direct claim expense. These costs include decreased productivity, hiring and training replacement expenses, overtime for loss of work, legal bills, loss of morale, business and customer goodwill. The costs to your injured worker are even greater.

Transitional work is a progressive return-to-work program specifically designed for an injured worker at his or her work site using targeted job goals. Through the use of available jobs within the company or a modification of the worker's job tasks, a transitional work program returns the injured worker to work as soon as medically practical and reduces workers' compensation costs significantly for the employer.

Employers benefit by keeping a trained, experienced worker; reducing costs associated with loss of production and employee replacement; reducing total costs of workers' compensation and disability costs; and promoting employee morale and improve work ethic.

Employees benefit by experiencing a smoother transition back to regular duty; tending to recover more quickly; maintaining self-esteem in spite of a medical condition; and maintaining relationships with co-workers and management.

While implementing a transitional work program provides positive outcomes for all stakeholders, the greatest benefits for employers is in the bottom line. The program lessens health care costs, reduces compensation payment paid, lowers claim reserves for future payouts, improves your safety program and helps your company meet its financial goals.

Implementing a transitional work program

A well-designed program requires the collaboration of the employer, injured worker, accredited transitional work developer and all stakeholders. An accredited transitional work developer assists in bringing parties together for program development and implementation.

Development begins with an objective review of the employer's workers' compensation program. The program's strengths and weaknesses are examined, policies and procedures are developed and a clearly defined process is established. Each program should be designed for the unique needs of the employer. A standardized approach will not produce the desired results.

Next, a functional job analysis provides information about the function and physical demands of the injured worker's current job. Training skills needed for the job are also identified, and a written job description is prepared.

Working relationships with community medical providers that know the company and its transitional work program are established. Case managers partner with the employer to coordinate and provide the necessary services to ensure the success of the program. A transitional work developer also provides assistance with program implementation, evaluation and staff education.

Transitional WorkGrant$

Participation in the transitional work program has brought about savings for Ohio's taxpayers. A study conducted by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation research department showed that employers who used Transitional WorkGRANT$ saved, on average, $1,136 in compensation paid by BWC for each approved workers' compensation claim.

Transitional WorkGRANT$ employers also saved, on average, $139 in medical costs per claim. Statewide, the program has reduced lost time hours by 46 percent.

Transitioning injured workers back to the job is important to an employer's bottom line. For state-funded employers, the Transitional WorkGrant$ program can provide up to 80 percent of the cost (up to a set limit) of developing a transitional work program.

For employers with fewer than 50 employees, the Transitional WorkGrant$-EZ is also available. The program is funded through the Ohio State Insurance Fund, and the grant money is paid directly to employers.

Protecting your assets

Returning an injured worker to the job as soon as safely possible, before the worker is 100 percent recovered, lowers workers' compensation costs and improves an employer's bottom line. It's a guaranteed return on your human resources investment and your most valuable asset -- your employees.

Susan Diulus, R.N., CCM, is Cleveland field case manager of Corvel Corp. CorVel is a BWC Managed Care Organization and national workers' compensation cost containment company providing case management, utilization management, medical bill review, ADR, group health and integrated disability management programs to employers. Reach Diulus at (800) 275-6463 or contact CorVel at randy_porco@corvel.com