Returning to Work and Returning to Normal

Unfortunately, many companies have workplace accidents at some point and these may require an employee to be away from work whether for a few days or for a few months.

 This time away from work can have a great impact on both the employer and employee, including a reduction in production, increased labor cost, depression for the employee and an increased strain on workers who are still on the job and covering the injured employee’s duties. Because of this ripple effect, it’s important to have a solid return-to-work plan that can minimize the effects on all parties involved.

An effective return-to-work plan lays out the steps that must be taken to return an employee to his or her pre-injury position. The injured employee, the employee’s supervisor and the worker’s health care provider should work together in order to create an appropriate plan. During this process, communication between all parties involved is vital.

A return-to-work process includes three key parts, assessing job tasks, identifying modified duties, and making a bona fide offer of employment.

  • Assess job tasks. Write down the separate activities or tasks involved in each job at your company. Include the physical demands (such as lifting, typing, standing) and the environmental conditions (such as vibration, noise, heat) in your descriptions.
  • Identify modified duties. Use your task list to match the available work to the injured employee’s work restrictions, as sanctioned by his or her treating doctor. Always tell the employee’s doctor about the modified duties to make sure they meet the doctor’s restrictions.
  • Make a bona fide offer of employment. If you can offer an injured employee modified duties that meet his or her doctor’s restrictions, put the offer in writing.  If an injured employee refuses a bona fide offer of employment, the employee may lose his or her temporary income benefits.

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On the Road Again, Only Safer

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2008 there were more than 3,300 traffic fatalities in Texas alone; making driving a vehicle one of the most dangerous activities an individual performs on a daily basis. Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control’s Injury Prevention and Control for Vehicle Safety states that in the United States, motor vehicle–related injuries are the leading cause of death for people ages 1 to 34.

The risk of a vehicle accident is not limited to commercial vehicles such as tractor/trailer units, box trucks or other commercial-style vehicles. There are more miles driven each year by salesmen, delivery drivers and others in cares, vans and pickup trucks than in commercial vehicles.

Supervisors and managers can educate employees on some of the following driver safety tips to prepare employees for the road ahead. This is particularly important for employees who travel as a function of their job, but do not have it as their primary function.

Fasten Your Seat Belt: Buckle up for safety and control. A seat belt can save your life and those around you if you are ever in a collision. Wearing seatbelts is still the single most effective thing drivers can do to save lives and reduce injuries on roadways.

Take Care of Yourself: The driver plays the most important role in a moving vehicle. Get plenty of rest before getting behind the wheel to make sure you are alert and in the best condition to operate a vehicle.

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