by Liz Griggs | May 28, 2015
Occupational Health and Safety
While the workers’ compensation market has experienced a number of improvements over the years, there are still a number of critical challenges that organizations must navigate in order to avoid some common pitfalls that remain inherent within the industry. One of those challenges includes the fact that workers’ comp is still primarily facilitated under a utilization after the fact model. This means that issues are only addressed after accidents have occurred and after claims have been filed. In fact, there were 1,162,210 days-away-from-work cases reported in private industry and the state government and local government sectors in 2013 alone. It’s no wonder that progressive organizations are starting to look for ways to more aggressively reduce incidents associated with on-the-job injury claims.
Of course, one of the primary ways to help mitigate workers’ compensation occurrences is for companies to deploy solutions that facilitate a safer and healthier workplace environment. This is especially important for key industries that always have to manage against some of the most common safety and workplace hazards, such as transportation accidents, slipping and falling, toxic and chemical exposure, and repetitive motions that create ergonomic injuries. The good news is, there are now forward-thinking organizations working hard to deliver the latest innovative solutions designed to significantly reduce workplace hazards so that incidents don’t have to occur in the first place. These new solutions will not only save organizations millions of dollars, but will also help keep employees on the job – injury and claim free.
New solutions will not only save organizations millions of dollars, but will also help keep employees on the job – injury and claim free.
So let’s take a look at some of the latest trends and solutions now available.
‘Next Generation’ Prevention and Wellness Programs
While prevention has always been talked about in the industry, it is now being more fully addressed through a comprehensive suite of new methodologies and practices that empower organizations to finally be able to stop on-the-job injuries from occurring. Some of these latest solutions include:
- Pre-work screenings: A pre-employment test that is performed to identify an applicant’s ability to perform the physical demands of a specific job, this pre-screen also identifies, on the front end, the location and extent of any current soft-tissue injuries. Furthermore, pre-screenings ensure that companies don’t “inherit a claim,” making it possible for employers to know up front the true health status of a potential laborer before the hiring takes place.
- Functional job descriptions: Created after a Job Functional Analysis has been performed in the workplace, it is designed to fully outline the specific job demands and requirements, based on the functions that are critical to the job.
- Work site evaluations: Involving physical therapists on the front end (not just after an injury occurs) to work with employees, supervisors, and management to understand workflow and all job task requirements, these allow therapists to recommend optimal positions, ergonomic strategies, and physical movements required at workstations to minimize musculoskeletal impact on the employees.
Innovative Early Intervention Solutions
Most organizations now know that early intervention is vital to reducing medical costs and loss time from the job for employees. As such, the key component to early intervention includes prompt reporting and quick response from therapists and medical teams to address issues as soon as they occur. In fact, when companies utilize the right early intervention strategies, they are able to manage work-related injuries from the beginning and thereby ensure better and improved outcomes for the employee. Some of the latest early intervention solutions to consider include:
- Prompt reporting: Educating and engaging employees to report any health concerns as soon as they notice any discomfort means that, once these early notifications are reported to supervisors, they are able to immediately address the concern and respond with appropriate evaluations, diagnosis, and/or medical care before the issue escalates.
- Early intervention screening: This allows therapists to screen employees and evaluate the work site as a result of the employee’s concerns, supervisor request, or first responder’s request. The therapist then coaches the employee regarding appropriate movement patterns, posture changes, and strategies to reduce reported discomfort and improve safe job performance.
- On-the-job fitness solutions: They engage employees in wellness tactics such as stretching, core muscle strengthening, and endurance and coordination exercises that are specifically customized to improve areas of the body that are most engaged in performing work-related tasks.
Improved Return To Work Solutions:
Just in case an on-the-job injury occurs, it is vital that employees receive the best medical diagnosis and medical care to ensure a fast and healthy recovery. An effective RTW program will not only provide the best therapists and medical care solutions, but also will ensure that workers will be productive and back on the job as soon as medically feasible. Some of the latest RTW solutions to consider include:
- Using a managed care network of imaging and therapy providers: Once an incident occurs, it’s important for companies to already have a partner in place that can quickly deploy the most innovative providers of imaging solutions for thorough and accurate diagnosis. The partner also should be able to provide the best physical therapists who can quickly respond with the latest practices and best-in-class therapeutic solutions for workers. There are now organizations who have highly sophisticated managed care networks for imaging and physical therapy providers who are certificated for ensuring the best possible care in helping to get workers back on the job (and in the best shape) as soon as possible.
- Rehab coordinators: Once a claim is filed, one of the major challenges impacting RTW efforts is lack of coordination and communications among all parties involved (the company, the legal teams, the adjusters, the medical providers, the injured worker, etc.). Communication delays also create delays in workers getting the care they need and cause required paperwork and other important documentation to be held up, as well. However, by using a rehab coordinator, a company can ensure that at least one point of contact has a 360-degree view of all parties involved and can work to ensure that everyone has what they need in a timely manner so that workers can get the care they need and return to work sooner.
It’s an exciting time in the workers’ compensation industry as this marketplace continues to evolve and change to incorporate best practices and innovative ideas in prevention, early intervention, and return to work programs. By using some of the latest solutions that are now available, companies can be better equipped in reducing claims and on-the-job injuries. These solutions will not only reduce costs, but also decrease business liabilities and other risks associated with labor-driven workplaces.
Liz Griggs is the Chairman & CEO of WorkWell Prevention & Care. To learn more about prevention and early intervention solutions, visit http://workwellpreventionandcare.com/.
This article was originally published by Occupational Health & Safety Online. You can see the original article here: http://ohsonline.com/Blogs/The-OHS-Wire/2015/05/Keeping-Workers-on-the-Job.aspx