One day from now we will finish putting the last few memories of this year in a box, we'll mark it 2016, and put it in long term storage. At some point, we might go back to the 2016 box and open it to reminisce during a moment of melancholic reflection, but that time seems far off and unlikely to occur right now. At the same time, the delivery of a new box will arrive on our doorstep. The box will be clean and new, void of any marks, scratches, or other imperfections. Unlike the many packages that have arrived at our door in the past year from Amazon and other places that seem only to exist on the Web, we're not completely sure what we will find inside.
While many things will remain unchanged and out of our control in the New Year, there are plenty of other opportunities to effect change that we can control. For those of us in the occupational injury arena, the New Year is ripe for a paradigm shift about how we help injured employees back to health and gainful employment.
To borrow a phrase from Dr. Marcos Iglesias, we can no longer afford to maintain the philosophy of waiting for an injured worker to heal so they can return to work; rather we must focus on having injured workers return to work so they can heal.
The focus for adjusters, employers, case managers, injured workers, and medical providers must be on getting injured workers back to work to heal. For some, this may seem like a bumper sticker phrase for reducing claims costs without any regard for an injured worker. Well, it should be a bumper sticker. However the phrase means much more. It is true that having an injured employee return to work reduces claims costs for an insurance company. However, there is just as much of a cost reduction that occurs for an injured worker by being able to go back to work. Furthermore, the research has demonstrated time and time again that people have better outcomes from any injury if they can get back to work while they are still convalescing.
That being said, it must be medically safe for an injured worker to return to the work environment. Having an injured worker return to work to heal is not about putting them in harm's way; quite the contrary. We are trying to help injured workers maintain their income, keep their jobs, and avoid the pitfalls of that disability mindset that infects so many injured workers that become sidelined by an injury.
So my point should be clear; there should be no confusion. For those who need some help, I'm more than happy to oblige. Your resolution list for the coming year needs to look like this:
1. Get plenty of rest
2. Eat better
3. Drink less
5. Call Windham Group to get that Job Fit Accommodation (JFA) done so folks that are injured at work can heal.