Work-related accidents have negative, sometimes catastrophic consequences, for both the injured employee and the employer. The direct and indirect costs involved with a workplace accident can cost Tennessee business owners tens of thousands of dollars.
Employees often experience anxiety, depression, a lost sense of personal worth, and a fear of losing their jobs. Some accidents can leave a worker with a permanent physical impairment.
According to a 2018 National Council on Compensation Insurance study, the direct cost to employers for an employee-injury averages $41,000 per claim. Indirect costs such as overtime, training temporary or replacement employees, and lost productivity are often greater than the direct costs.
The Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) convened a task force of staff, employers, medical professionals, and insurance companies to collaborate and develop a program that could help businesses decrease the number of workdays lost to work-related injuries and illnesses while increasing the employee return-to-work rate.
The collaboration resulted in the Returning Employees to Work And Reducing Disabilities (REWARD) program. The new BWC initiative will help interested employers develop and customize a return-to-work program for their businesses.
REWARD provides employers a toolkit that outlines the following steps needed to implement a program.
Advice on actions to take before and after an injury occurs, for identifying transitional work assignments, and for assisting employees who are unable to return to work due to their work-related injury.
Sample return-to-work and transitional job offer policies.
Information to share with authorized treating physicians concerning the employer’s return-to-work program.
A return-on-investment calculator to help employers predict their savings from implementing a return-to-work program.
Information about the upcoming Certified Physician Program which will train, test, and certify physicians interested in utilizing best practices in the Tennessee workers’ compensation system.
Information about the BWC Employer Honor Roll which will annually recognize employers who have outstanding return-to-work programs.
The task force devised the elements of the REWARD program to bring all parties involved in a workers’ compensation claim together to achieve the best outcome, which is ultimately the employee’s return to the workplace.
“Helping injured employees find their way back to meaningful work is a goal that benefits everyone,” said Abbie Hudgens, BWC Administrator. “When someone works, they have a purpose, they can provide for their family. Employers gain just as much by having an experienced employee back on the job. The REWARD program can help make this a reality for employees and employers across Tennessee.”
The purpose of the REWARD program is to shift the mindset about workers’ compensation by using work as a tool to speed recovery and to encourage employers to identify transitional job tasks they can offer injured employees during their recovery period. Following this program can help many injured workers return to their regular wages and pre-injury standard of living sooner and employers can save money on workers’ compensation claims.