Anybody who has been involved with employee injuries can likely recall situations in which an injured worker sought formal medical treatment and was told by a healthcare provider to “take it easy” or listed their work status as “light duty”.
The curse lies in the interpretation of what duties the employee may perform and how the injury may be recorded on your OSHA logs.
Two Factors of Clarification
As an employer, you need to know the answers to two specific questions:
Should the answer to both questions be “yes”, the case would not involve a working restriction and would not have to be recorded as such.
Should the answer to one or both questions be “no”, the case would involve restricted work and must be recorded as a restricted work case.
In situations in which you are unable to clarify the specific restricted recommendations with the healthcare provider, the case would be identified as a restricted work case.
Utilizing Best Practice Injury Case Management
Anytime a workplace injury occurs, the anxiety and stress levels rise for both the injured employee and employer. The importance of having a defined plan for effectively managing such occurrences will ultimately impact the employee’s recovery and case outcome.
Axiom Medical identifies three key best practice components for the effective management of injuries:
- Early Reporting – The key to an accelerated recovery and minimizing injury outcomes is found in early reporting. Delayed reporting, by just one day, increases your recordability risk by 60%.
- Open Communication – Communicating with all parties decreases confusion and promotes positive outcomes. When a case requires formal medical attention, you need an advocate who can collaborate with the medical provider regarding the injured employee’s treatment plan. The provider needs to have a clear understanding of the employee’s job duties to determine what functions they may or may not be able to perform. Should a modified work status be warranted, it should contain specific restrictions applicable to the employee’s role.
- Close Monitoring – Employees should be closely monitored throughout their recovery to ensure compliance with an established treatment plan and to gauze effectiveness of treatment being provided. As our bodies may react differently to treatment, you may find the employee’s recovery to be shorter than anticipated, therefore making continued restrictions unwarranted. In such type of scenario, having the employee reevaluated could decrease the duration of restricted work.