Work Injury? A Recovery at Work Guide
According to the Department of Labor, close to 3 million workers suffer injuries while on the job every year. Work-related injuries affect both employers and employees. However, a recovery-at-work plan can mitigate the social and economic effects.
Read on and learn how workplace injuries affect both employers and employees, plus how to recover from a work injury.
Workplace injuries affect both employers and employees
According to the National Safety Council, the majority of reported workplace injuries in 2019 were from: overexertion (lifting, pushing, etc) and bodily reaction (repetitive motion or microtasks resulting in stress or strain on some part of the body); sudden incidents such as slips and falls; and contacts with objects and equipment.
Those who endure a work injury in any capacity can suffer physically, emotionally, and financially. Employers can also suffer emotionally and incur economic losses. The most significant loss that hits the company is the absence of one of its most valuable assets - the injured worker.
Other setbacks to the employer are the following indirect costs:
- Time spent handling administrative processes.
- Lost productivity.
- Costs of recruiting, training, and compensating replacement workers.
- Loss of business.
A recovery at work plan mitigates these downsides. Therefore, it is beneficial for both parties to craft a smooth return-to-work plan. Here is what you should do.
Get back to work when you are ready
While off from work, an injured worker receives something known as workers’ compensation. According to Shuman Legal, whether it’s your first day or your 500th day on the job, if you have a job-related injury, you have a 95% chance that you are covered by workers’ compensation.
That being said, workers’ compensation cannot replace the benefits, salary, and career achievements gained by being on a full-time job.
Your goal should be to resume duties as soon as it is practical - when you are able and declared fit. Having the right mindset helps you to plan your moves and is crucial to achieving this goal. This guide will help you to plan your recovery at work.
Begin by communicating frequently. As a worker, you should keep in touch with the employer when you are away from work. Let your supervisor know how you are doing, what the doctor says about your health, and how soon you could resume work.
Keeping the communication lines open tells the employer that you are open about resuming work and not taking advantage of the “free time.” Your employer can also plan better for the period you are away and for your return. You can also discuss alternative duties to help you gradually get back to the work routine.
Communicate but do not compromise
The employer and insurer should ideally take your willingness to communicate positively.
However, some employers could pressure a worker to return to work. The insurer could also put pressure on the worker to resume work. After all, returning to work means nil or reduced insurance payouts. But do not cave in. If you feel pressured to get back before you and the doctor says you are ready, reach out to a worker’s compensation attorney.
You should also reach out to a workers’ comp’ attorney in the following situations:
- When your doctor and company doctor differ.
- When the employer requests an Independent Medical Exam (IME)
Don’t be nervous about a Notice of Ability to Return to Work
Any time your medical condition changes, it could warrant a return to work. The insurance company will send you a Notice of Ability to Return to Work. The notification may spook you, especially if you are not ready to resume duty. You could feel like the workers’ compensation is at stake. However, do not let it unsettle you. Instead, get in touch with the work injury attorney every time you get a Notice of Ability to Return to Work. If the assessing doctor agrees that you are not ready, the lawyer will contact your employer and insurer.
Occasionally the company or insurer doctor could differ with your doctor about your state. In such a case, the employer and insurer can request an independent medical examination. The independent doctor could say that you are fit to resume work. An injury-at-work attorney can help to negotiate an incremental return to work formula.
Fill out a return to work form
Once you feel ready to return to work and your doctor agrees, fill out a return to work form. It will contain the following information:
- Details about your current condition or any changes.
- Any work restrictions and instructions from the doctor. For example, if you are to be on light duty only.
- An acknowledgment by the employer that they should look for alternative work.
- Notification that you have the right to contact a lawyer.
- An agreed return-to-work plan
Maintain a copy of the return to work form and any restrictions ordered by the doctor. Also, keep a record of anything that could affect your health and case.
Update your doctor and workers’ compensation lawyer about the developments at work.
A final word on recovery at work for workers
This guide will help you return to work comfortably. However, we acknowledge that resuming work after receiving workers’ comp can be daunting. Perhaps you are not sure about your ability to work the same duties, or there could be environmental factors that put you at risk of further injury.
Let your doctor, employer and the workers’ compensation lawyer know about your concerns.. Good communication makes room for a collaborative approach to a timely and safe return to work.