What does a healthy return-to-work program look like?

Healthy Return to Work

We all know that creating a safe work environment that addresses preventable injuries takes precedence over any return-to-work programs. After all, if you keep your employees healthy and safe, you won’t need to devise a return-to-work program. That said, unpreventable injuries do occasionally take place, and when they do, you will want to put together well-designed return-to-work programs for the sake of your employees and your company. That’s why we at Designed Living have put together a return-to-work program guide. Take look!


Return-To-Work Program Guidelines


A healthy return-to-work program should include the following steps and procedures:

  • Open lines of communication with medical professionals: Successful communication with the relevant medical providers will allow you to inform providers about the nature of the employment and facilitate a coordinated effort to get employees back to work faster.


  • Revisit job descriptions: Consider that, due to the injury or a change in safety protocol, a revision to the stated physical requirements might be called for. Send these physical requirements to medical providers to help guide their return-to-work treatment plan.


  • Investigate alternative work options: If the injured employee can perform other duties while undergoing recovery treatments, consider assigning him or her to that alternative position. This might require some adjustment of an existing position to meet the employee’s physical abilities. Despite that hurdle, getting injured employees back to any work mitigates necessary worker’s compensation expenses.


  • Keep the injured employee in the loop: Any sense that decisions are being made without the employee’s knowledge or consent can potentially lead to the employee seeking legal recourse. It is in everyone’s best interests to keep all parties up-to-date and informed.


  • Be accommodating during the return-to-work transition: Coming back to work after an injury can be stressful for the employee. He or she might have concerns about readiness and possibility for re-injury. They also might have concerns about new job responsibilities that come with alternative work. Whatever the case, allowing the employee to transition gradually by working shorter shifts at first will help smooth the process and alleviate employee stress.


  • Inform coworkers of any guidelines related to working with the injured employee: Letting coworkers know—ahead of time—of what work the returning employee will be doing and why (without going into medical specifics) will help create a supportive environment as the employee returns.


When all is said and done, a healthy return-to-work plan offers a win-win response to workplace injuries. By tending to injured employee’s needs for appropriate medical care, information on decision-making, and a reasonable work environment, companies live up to their responsibilities to care for the injured employee. By offering coordination with a medical professional and alternative work, companies live up to their responsibilities to care for the injured employee.

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