While management may feel they successfully help injured employees through the healing process and ultimate return to work, an injured employee's experience can give useful insights on where your injury management program needs to be tweaked. Enhancing your efforts can improve the employee's experience and morale, reduce lost time, and reduce the company's costs associated with the injury.

Pitfalls and Solutions
Initial Report of Injury or Absence

Injury management can go wrong from the very first step. Each workplace injury has its own unique onset and method of being reported. Acute and severe injuries have urgency and typically present a clear and immediate indication that the injury is work-related. When an injury is cumulative, or involves vague pain, its origins and relation to the workplace are less clear. To complicate matters, the employee may report their injury, pain, or doctor visit via phone. Additional difficulty arises if time has passed since the injury onset or the doctor visit. Management needs to know how to quickly get things back on track.

When Joe called his supervisor, Sam, to say he wouldn't be coming to work because his back hurt, Sam asked no questions. You can't fault a supervisor when his mind immediately jumps to worrying about how he will fill the gap of the absent employee or how production may get behind. In this case, the lack of simple questions led to Joe being off multiple days. Sam thought he was giving Joe time off, but it turned out to be a Workers' Compensation claim, so those were counted as lost-time days. Since it became a lost-time claim, the entire cost of that claim went into the company's Experience Modifier. The delay in identifying the employee injury as work-related also delayed medical care, and prolonged the recovery period.

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