The Return To Work Blog

Lara Cole

Lara Cole, MS, ARM, ASP Ergonomic Services Operations Manager Lara joined Windham Group in January of 2014 in the position of Business Development and Marketing Manager. She came to Windham Group with expertise in occupational safety and health management. In her experience, she has worked in various fields of occupational safety and health including manufacturing, research, industrial hygiene, local, state and federal government settings, as well as Workers’ Compensation and Property Liability insurance. Lara leads and manages Windham’s Job Fit Accommodation service in order to provide technical guidance and ensure quality of outcomes. She graduated summa cum laude from Keene State College with a Bachelor of Science in Safety Studies and has earned a Master of Science in Work Environment Policy from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Lara also holds the professional designation of Associate in Risk Management (ARM) and Associate Safety Professional (ASP).
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Recent Posts

Return To Work Success : A Concrete Construction Foreman

Posted by Lara Cole on May 18, 2016 7:48:00 AM

Sometimes it's difficult to fathom how in a physically demanding work environment like a construction site, that there are options for Return To Work.  Add to the fact that you may be dealing with a small employer who does not have a surplus of other positions an injured worker could fill, and people quickly write off the possibility to return someone to work until they are 100% recovered.  In this Return To Work Spotlight, we have a three-man crew consisting of the owner, working foreman and another employee. They were licensed for both commercial and residential jobs.  The concrete construction foreman was out of work with a work release, with a left upper extremity injury.  The work release stated that two-handed duty was required, he could not lift anything over 50 lbs. with his left upper extremity, no pushing/pulling over 50 lbs. with his left upper extremity and no working or driving while on narcotics.

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Topics: Return To Work, Spotlight of the Month

Return To Work Success : A Housekeeper

Posted by Lara Cole on Mar 11, 2016 11:03:28 AM

Our Return To Work Spotlight of the Month is focused on the hospitality industry. Housekeeping positions are incredibly physically demanding, requiring you to be on your feet for an entire 8.5 hour workday. Not only are they pushing the heavy supply cart from floor to floor, they are frequently bending, squatting and reaching.    

We were referred direct by the Employer, who in this case had an injured worker who had work restrictions, was not back to work and was represented. Without question, the Employer wanted this Employee back.  The Employer hoped that by getting us onsite to document the work environment and find a creative way to bring this person back, that the Employee would be supportive of the Return To Work process. 

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Topics: Spotlight of the Month

Return To Work Success : A Landscaper And A Janitor

Posted by Lara Cole on Feb 4, 2016 8:00:00 PM

Landscaper with right hip, neck and lower back injuries

Landscaping is a rough job that uses hand and power tools or equipment. Workers perform a myriad of tasks including laying sod, mowing, trimming, planting, digging, and even snow removal in the off season. The work can be arduous. A valuable landscape employee that had sustained hip, neck and lower back injuries was able to recover enough to be cleared to return to modified duty work. The work release had restrictions that included not lifting more than 10 pounds, and no more than 50 minutes of sitting or standing. For many these work restrictions would be an insurmountable obstacle to a successful return to work. To make things harder, the employer had laid the injured employee off and replaced them with a new worker. Our Return To Work team took the modified duty work restrictions and collaborated with the employer to identify an alternate position for the employee that was immediately available, and within the injured workers' abilities with the implementation of simple job task rotation and regular breaks.

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Topics: Return To Work, Spotlight of the Month

I'm Working, But Still In Pain...What Do I Do?

Posted by Lara Cole on Jan 20, 2016 9:30:00 AM

Early Intervention - be prepared to act

In this monthly spotlight we dive into how it is imperative to recognize the importance of early intervention prior to a claim being filed, as well as early intervention when an injured worker first returns to work yet is still in pain.


Employees experiencing pain and discomfort during the course of their work need immediate attention, they need to know that their employer wants to hear about these situations and will work tirelessly to make sure the work environment is productive and safe.  We worked with three employees recently who may not have stayed on the job without a concerned employer responding appropriately and keeping things in check.

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Topics: Return To Work, Spotlight of the Month

What Is The Continuum of Return To Work?

Posted by Lara Cole on Dec 3, 2015 7:45:00 AM

The Continuum at Its Finest! 

This is our monthly spotlight showcasing how sometimes you need a combination of tools to get people back to work.  We pride ourselves on having the most unique "one-two Return To Work punch" in the industry.

A Windham Group Case Manager was assigned to an aging file for a Mover/Shop Tech at an arcade game rental and delivery company.  The injured worker had a lumbar strain.  This gentleman had been out of work for almost a year. Shortly after our case manager began working the file, it was clear that there was nothing else to be done medically to get this person back to work.  The right physicians had been involved, the treatment plan had been rock solid.  Our case manager knew that the best way to get this injured worker back to work was to impact the physical work environment. 

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Topics: Return To Work, Spotlight of the Month

The Black & Decker Drill That Got a Truck Driver Back to Work

Posted by Lara Cole on Nov 4, 2015 8:30:00 AM

thinking creatively

Truck drivers and wrist injuries, they are frequent.  It is also difficult (but not impossible) to keep that truck driver on the job while they are recovering.  Trucking is a very physically demanding job.  But just because it is, don't assume that you need to play the waiting game for this injured worker to fully recover for them to return to work.  Sometimes all it takes is a Black & Decker drill to get a work release.

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Topics: Spotlight of the Month

Preventing Return To Work - [Infographic]

Posted by Lara Cole on Oct 28, 2015 1:00:00 PM

You didn't really think we'd publish a piece telling you how to keep injured workers out of work, did you?  We're all about Return To Work.  In this infographic, there are five solid things to consider as you navigate the Return To Work process.  If you think we missed any, please let us know in the comments section below.

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Topics: Return To Work

The $10 Fix That Got A Quality Control Technician Back To Work

Posted by Lara Cole on Oct 7, 2015 7:30:00 AM


Windham Group was asked to come on site to evaluate and treat the work environment  to help identify contributing factors to the injured workers' pain, reduce the physical demands of the job to match the current physical abilities and ultimately allow for continued return to work.


A 53 year old Quality Control Technician currently working light duty was at risk of going back out of work due to pain and discomfort in their shoulder.  The Quality Control Technican was responsible for checking the quality of product entering the shipping/receiving center in boxes weighing between 10 – 50lbs, bags weighing 50lbs, and 50 gallon drums.  


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Topics: Spotlight of the Month

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"To work is to be needed, and to be needed is essential for life"   - Bertram J. Black

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