Ronnie’s Story

Imagine you’re a veteran electrician with more than 20 years on the job. One day, you get up at your usual time and take your usual route to work. On the way to the job site, you rehash the weekend with a co-worker over coffee, just as you’ve done countless times before.

And then your day takes a drastic, unexpected turn.

While doing work for a local utility, you suffer a severe electrical shock. You remember being loaded onto the life flight helicopter, but nothing else until you wake up from your coma. You spend 45 days in the hospital. From there, you head straight to the rehab facility, where you start the grueling process of learning to use your new prosthetic arms.

I wish this were a fictional story conjured up to demonstrate the importance of today’s blog post. Unfortunately, Ronnie’s Story is a real scenario that played out on one of our policyholder’s job sites. Far too often, this story ends when the worker gets injured and has to miss time. The employer replaces them, and they never return to the job.

But the injury was just the first of many compelling chapters in Ronnie’s story. He returned to work 18 months after this catastrophic accident. It was a long, painful road, but he’s back on the team. He can’t do all the tasks he used to do. But he contributes by training new employees and doing other alternative, productive work.

Ronnie didn’t have time to say this in our short video, but his employer played a crucial role in helping him get back on the job. They recognized his value to the team, and they identified modified duties that comply with his restrictions.

Return-to-Work by the Numbers
50% – Injured workers who off work longer than six months have only a 50 percent chance of returning to their job.

90% – If injured workers are off the job longer than 1 year, there is a 90 percent chance they will never return to productive employment.

1.5X – Replacing an injured worker can cost 1.5 times their annual salary.

13 – It can take a new worker more than 13 months to become efficient at their job.

4X – Indirect claim costs, such as making up for lost production, can be up to four times higher than direct costs. Indirect costs come out of the employer’s pocket. OSHA’s safety pays tool helps employers calculate the true costs of an injury.

Did you know?
The Division of Workers’ Compensation reimburses qualifying employers for money they spend to bring injured workers back to the team. For more information, click here.

Return-to-work programs thrive when employers, injured workers, doctors and insurance carriers believe in the process and embrace their roles. It’s a formula for success that pays off for you and your employees.

Workers’ compensation benefits cover only a portion of the injured worker’s lost income. The financial stress associated with being off work can affect the employee’s emotional health. The longer they are off work, the less likely they are to return to productive employment.

Employers, meanwhile, have to make up for lost production. That can mean hiring extra help or paying overtime to current employees. Ultimately, replacing an injured worker can cost 1.5 times their annual salary.

So how do and your injured employees reap the benefits of a return-to-work program? Perhaps this quote from Ronnie will provide guidance.

“I’m not the type of person who’s going to sit home feeling sorry for myself,” said Ronnie. “I was going to be doing something. My company asked me to come back to work, and they found a position for me. It felt good to go back and be with the guys.”

It’s only three sentences, but each one speaks volumes.

First, Ronnie didn’t fall victim to the disability mindset: “I’m injured, and I cannot work.” He knew he could contribute, and he wanted to come back as soon as medically reasonable.

Secondly, Ronnie’s employer shared his desire. They knew he was more valuable when he was at work, contributing to productivity.

And lastly, work is therapeutic. Ronnie felt good being back at work with his friends and peers.

That’s how we want every return-to-work story to end. You can help make that happen.

Everyone wins with return-to-work
We encourage you to review our short webinar: “Everyone Wins with Return-to-Work.” Our safety and claim professionals explain the benefits of helping injured workers get quality medical care and return to the job. Then, they show you how to reap those benefits in five simple steps. We also invite you to take advantage of the free return-to-work materials on our website.

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