As a matter of doing business, your day-to-day processes will be used and evaluated to determine what is efficient and creating the outcomes that you expect. Sometimes it takes bravery or extra resources to change course when something doesn’t work, but if it doesn’t work, change will be necessary eventually. Even if a process is working fine, that doesn’t mean you won’t find something that will work even better or perhaps enhance what you already have.
Below are a few examples of employer processes that have been found to not work and some suggestions of what to do instead:
• Never update job descriptions or verify the physical demands are accurate and correct.
Try another way: Make sure you have an accurate job description that identifies the physical demands required to perform the essential functions of the job. This may be fulfilled with a job analysis you can add to your existing job description.
• All job descriptions say, "Must lift 50 lbs" or, our favorite, “at least 50 lbs”
Try another way: If the EEOC audits your company, they will ask you, “what weighs exactly 50 lbs and how is that object lifted?” Instead, your job description should read, "Must be able to carry 4" steel pipe weighing 83 lbs for 50 feet and climb 40 steps."
• Hire someone without asking them to SHOW how they can do the job safely.
Try another way: Ensure the job candidate is not only physically safe to do the job, but also does not have pre-existing medical conditions that put them at risk of injury. Offer the job but make it contingent on them passing a post-offer employment test.
• Wait for the doctor to release an injured worker to return to work without a physical capacity or Fit for Duty test.
Try another way: Ask the physician, "When is the worker medically stable to participate in a functional assessment?" Then, have the worker participate in a Fit for Duty or Physical Abilities Test to determine their ability to return to work safely. By matching the worker’s abilities with the physical demands of the job, a safe return to work can be accomplished earlier and safer than waiting for the doctor to make that decision. This information can be provided to the physician and other healthcare providers to focus the rehabilitation efforts on any existing job-related deficits.
• “We let our worker’s comp insurance company handle getting our injured workers back to work.”
Try another way: Take control of your worker’s comp, and have a "Stay at work" policy in place that promotes functional, objective testing to determine the safe ability of your workers. Employers’ indirect costs for a worker’s comp claim are 4.5 times higher than the direct costs. Your insurance carrier primarily sees those direct costs, but employers are the ones who ALWAYS pay for the indirect costs. Often those costs are not realized by the insurance carrier, so they lack the motivation to have the injured worker return to work as quickly as possible.
• Manage injuries after they happen instead of putting programs in place to prevent the injuries.
Try another way: Safety programs, equipment and training are all very important in the prevention of injuries and reduction of disability costs. However, it does not matter what safety measures are in place if someone who is not physically safe to do the job is working in the position. An injury will occur in this case, regardless of what excellent safety measures are in place. Not hiring the person who is unsafe to do the job will make the largest impact on reducing injuries and costs and have the largest return on investment for the employer.
• We have to let the injured worker’s attorney handle everything.
Try another way: Allow doctors to treat the injured worker medically; use functional testing early on to determine safe ability to work; allow attorneys to deal with legal matters only; allow adjusters to handle the claim only; and avoid complications by having physical demands of the job identified clearly, so that the worker’s abilities can be matched with the job demands.