In order to promote safer workplaces and help injured workers fully recover in the safest way possible, Pennsylvania has developed a Return to Work Program that is meant to be a proactive and collaborative approach to work together to achieve these goals. This program focuses on the coordination of health care services, vocational rehabilitation, and claims development to make returning to work part of the worker’s treatment plan. By doing this, treatments will be maximized and workers’ compensation costs will be minimized because of a faster recovery and a better-managed claim.
A Return to Work program is a program that is tailored to each individual company prior to its implementation. This program should be designed to facilitate communication and establish roles for each participant to help make the process efficient.
There are nine steps to developing a formal Return to Work Program in Pennsylvania:
- Step One: Formation of a Return to Work Team – an organization needs to put together a team that will establish the policies of the program and guide and monitor the program’s administration. The team should be made up of members from management, the workforce, and human resources. These members will be involved in every aspect of the case management and will be responsible for evaluation of safety procedures.
- Step Two: Develop a Policy Statement – the team needs to develop a statement that will state the general scope of the team and its mission.
- Step Three: Develop Organization Provider Panel – the organization has the right to post a list of designated health care providers for injured workers to seek treatment for work-related injuries.
- Step Four: Conduct Job Task Analysis – the team should conduct employee task analysis to assess workstation and job design to analyze issues to eliminate hazards, identify risky tasks, and avoid accidents before they occur.
- Step Five: Develop Suitable Alternative Work Assignments – once the task analysis is completed, alternative jobs for returning workers can be identified. These alternatives can be used for those returning workers who are given limitations related to lifting, standing, walking, or sitting.
- Step Six: Develop a Provider Form – a form should be developed so the injured worker can inform the treating physician of the Return to Work Program. The form should be designed so the doctor could provide relevant information so the organization can provide suitable alternative work for the injured worker.
- Step Seven: Communicate Policy to the Workforce – once the new policy is developed, it should be provided to all employees in writing and posted in a visible area. If the employees are part of a union, the organization should confer with a union representative before posting the policy.
- Step Eight: Educate the Workforce – since the Return to Work program is geared to be a partnership between workers, employers, and health care providers, it is important to educate the workforce to make them aware of the practices of the program and the benefits of making a commitment to the program.
- Step Nine: Inform Stakeholders of Responsibilities – after an injury happens, all of the partners in the Return to Work process are responsible for the injured worker. Each person in the process should clearly know his responsibilities.
Do you have questions about workers’ compensation in Philadelphia? Reach out to an attorney today for assistance and/or professional representation.