Published: 11-Aug- 2011 | Comments: 0
The best way to control workers’ compensation costs is to prevent injuries. However, when injuries do occur, employers can mitigate and even prevent unnecessary costs and loss of productivity through a proactive approach to injury management. A key component to injury management is early return-to-work.
It has long been acknowledged that returning employees who are recovering from work-related illness and injury to the workplace in some type of modified capacity aids in recovery and decreases cost for the employer. The longer an employee remains off work the less likely he/she is to return. Marsh Risk Consulting’s (MRC) Claim Consulting Practice provides a broad spectrum of services to companies seeking to adopt best practice-based and structured early return-to-work (RTW) programs customized to fit their organizations’ unique cultures.
MRC’s consultants are specialized in disability management and RTW programs and have vast experience in particular in the transportation, retail, warehouse, and hospitality industries. MRC focuses on creating RTW programs for work-related injuries, incorporating temporary accommodations for eligible employees with temporary restrictions from performing their full and regular duties.
MRC’s RTW experts introduce employers to all the essential best practice program components, which can be modified to fit the size, structure, and complexity of their organizations.
Our consultants work with organizations to help them determine the roles and responsibilities of all parties in the process: those employees who are eligible to participate; how long temporary, transitional duty is available; and who is responsible to own and run the program. We can act in an advisory capacity or take on greater responsibility to build the RTW program and facilitate its rollout.
Regardless of industry, employer size, or organization complexity, an RTW program must include the following:
- a policy that addresses eligibility, duration limits, compensation, and roles and responsibilities;
- a method for identifying transitional duty assignments and a process for managing employees in the program;
- communication tools to facilitate sharing information about the program and gathering information about the employee’s work capacity.
Given that one size does not fit all, MRC has developed a variety of approaches to assist clients with key program components.
For organizations seeking assistance with establishing a program, we support policy development and process guidelines, including key checklists, forms, and role delineation. RTW Essentials is most appropriate for organizations that will implement the program on their own.
For organizations interested in supervisors “owning the process” and receiving training about the process, this may be a preferred approach. With RTW Frontline, organizations receive all the key components of a structured RTW program, which emphasizes supervisor involvement and control, in addition to the design of training for frontline supervisors.
RTW Custom Solutions
When a client has multiple and varied needs, a custom solution may be the best choice. Such an organization receives all the elements of a formal, structured RTW program, but also may choose to place process control with Human Resources or Safety and/or may vary program protocols by subsidiary if faced with vastly different work environments
An organization may or may not seek assistance with design of program training. A custom solution can include the development a business case, the creation a task bank (tasks identified with specific physical demands that can be combined to create a full day’s work), and/or the design metrics and reports to measure program performance.
Why Rely on MRC’s RTW Solutions?
Most companies embrace the concept of the inherent benefit of early return-to-work through job modification after an injury. However, many companies fail to formalize and/or update their programs following significant modifications to their work environments as a result of changes in employment laws and/or changes to the complexity of their organization based on growth, acquisitions, or divestitures. Lean enterprise management concepts may affect a company’s human resources department’s capacity to address non-urgent issues such as the effectiveness and currency of its RTW program.
The result can be inconsistent execution, minimal, if any, cost control, and a shift the exposure to the employment practices liability side if practices are not compliant with other interacting employment laws.
MRC can help organizations develop RTW practices that effectively bring injured employees back to work, promoting fairness and consistency to the workforce, and efficient execution for the process owners.
RTW Program Results
Clients for whom MRC has helped develop RTW programs have demonstrated savings in their workers’ compensation expenditures. This includes a:
- Hospitality client that reduced incurred costs by 60 percent within one year of implementation after never using an RTW program in the past.
- Retail client that reduced indemnity claims by 19 percent in one year at pilot locations.
- Schools within an insurance group that reduced total incurred by 42 percent and indemnity paid by 35 percent.
- Distribution center client that reduced its temporary total disability costs by 16.5 percent after one year nationally, as well as a 46 percent reduction in frequency and a corresponding reduction in overall claim costs in one location, translating to more than $6 million in annual savings two years after program implementation.
- Transportation client that reduced workers’ compensation claim costs by 55 percent one year post implementation. This was equivalent to a 10 percent revenue increase for this client.
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