Employees don’t wake up in the morning knowing or anticipating they will be injured on the job. If there is no work execution plan in place or an employee is “cowboying” a job to completion without having assessed hazards, injuries can often occur and the road back to work is not always well defined. Employee injuries should never be considered routine, but your response plan should be.
The Corridor of Care post-injury management process is a carefully structured sequence of activities designed to take care of the injured employee from the moment of injury through return to full duty.
The process helps the employer reduce the cost of workers’ compensation losses by building a systematic and positive approach to handling employee injuries.
Five Strategies of Post-Injury Management
- Respond immediately to injury. When an employee is injured, you should respond in a caring and non-judgmental way, and help him or her receive the care they need as soon as possible. Once the injured employee is receiving care, you should begin your accident investigation immediately. The sooner you begin gathering witness statements while the incident is still fresh on their minds, the more accurate your incident report will be.
- Establish a medical provider relationship. Partner with a medical provider who understands your company and your post-injury management process to avoid cost overruns and needless OSHA recordables. This is a step that many employers are not aware of. Make sure you partner with an Urgent Care Clinic. The country is chock full of these clinics which gives you better access to the Nurse or Doctor that is administering care to your employee. Because you have a personal relationship with the clinic, you can instruct them to not give any prescription medication without calling your Safety Manager first. The moment the employee fills that prescription for Ibuprofen that could have been purchased over the counter, you’ve just earned an OSHA recordable. Any prescription medication is deemed recordable by OSHA so make sure you let the clinic know, when an employee from Company A steps in for care, there is a process in place to be followed.
- Assign transitional duties. When employees feel valued and productive, the severity of claims can be lessened. By offering injured employees an effective transitional-duty program, you can help to build employee morale, keep injured workers connected to the workforce and return to full duty as soon as medically possible. This also can help lower workers’ compensation costs by expediting their return to work and full duty. Studies show workers recover faster at work than at home watching daytime talk shows.
- Provide attentive case management. Designate one person to coordinate all claims management activities with the medical provider, insurer, injured worker, co-workers and line management to help resolve any issues, concerns or impediments to the injured worker’s recovery.
- Measure process performance. You can test your goals against actual performance. Measuring the success of your post-injury management process can help to identify trends for further risk and loss reduction strategies.
Corridor of Care Post-Injury Management Process
The injured employee is not the only one who suffers. Employees suffer with the pain and discomfort of the injury, as well as the financial loss. Employers can suffer from the disruption in production, quality, and morale.
By having a systematic and caring process, you can bring that person into your “Corridor of Care” and actively manage his or her return to full duty. Utilizing best practices to the fullest extent may allow you, the employer, to control your workers compensation costs.
Carl Vasquez, CSP, ASP, TSSP, is Director of Safety, Education & Training for NUCA.