The development of your Post-Injury Management Program (PIM) should be a goal that permeates throughout the entire organization. It is also recommended that the workers’ compensation (WC) process and Post-Injury Management Program be communicated to employees at the time of their new-hire orientation. Successful communication of WC and PIM Programs is critical! It should include a discussion of what WC is and also review the importance of prompt injury reporting, what should be done after an injury, designated medical providers, how medical bills are handled, and lost work benefits. The ultimate goal in explaining this is to ease any possible post-injury concern your employee could face.
It is believed that when employees have an understanding of the WC process and their employer’s PIM Program, they are less likely to hire legal representation. Successfully explaining the WC process and PIM Programs will display your company’s commitment and play a big role in successfully getting employees back to work. Every company should also make it a point to find out what their local WC regulations are in relation to whether they are able to direct medical care for injured employees. Most recommend researching nearby urgent care facilities or clinics close to their facilities. It is also not a bad idea to discuss with these facilities their average wait times for walk-in injures and even their capabilities for any post-injury drug or alcohol testing.
Another critical aspect of Post-Injury Management Programs is the manner in which the company representative responds or reacts when an employee injury is reported. Remember, the “bedside manner” of the person who takes an injured worker report will set the tone for this program’s success or failure. In order to respond appropriately to an injured employee, representatives should take an approach similar to the way one would respond to their child or loved one after an injury. An employee reporting an injury should receive a feeling of empathy, care, and non-judgement. Also, keep in mind that post-injury discussions or analysis should be strictly fact-finding, as opposed to fault-finding. The last thing an injured employee should feel is that their employer is out to get them or does not believe their account of what happened. Accident reports should always be non-biased and specific to facts. Communicate any doubts or concerns relative to the legitimacy of a work-related injury to your WC carrier and let them handle things from there.
Finally, when an injured employee returns to work with “restrictions” or “light duty”, make sure their direct manager reviews and fully understands the restrictions. These managers should keep an eye on and communicate with the recovering employee to ensure their work restrictions are truly a good fit for their capabilities. The last thing anyone wants is to have an employee working beyond his or her true capabilities, resulting in a new injury or worsening of his or her existing injury. It is also a good idea to ensure an employee with work restrictions is not working beyond the doctor’s restrictions. If an employee feels that their work restrictions are too limiting, or that they are capable of more, get them back to a physician for updated restrictions or possibly a full release.