Living with Chronic Pain
4 Tips for a Successful Return to Work After a Workplace Accident
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 888,220 workers in the United States experienced workplace injuries that resulted in days off work in 2019. Most U.S. workers have access to workers’ compensation which provides benefits for workers injured on the job, including wage replacement, coverage of medical costs, vocational rehabilitation, and other benefits.
When an employee is ready to return to the workplace after experiencing an accident on the job, they may face new challenges, including the possibility of reinjury and difficulties with productivity or performance.
Four tips for a successful return to work after a workplace accident include the following:
- Ensure that the employer takes steps to prevent reinjury. After a workplace accident, employers should investigate the accident, determine the probable cause, and find a solution to prevent the accident from happening again. This helps prevent reinjury upon return to the workplace and helps ensure other workers do not experience the same type of injury.
- Ask a physician about work restrictions. Medical professionals can provide guidance regarding when to return to work and any restrictions that may need to be followed upon return. Open communication with both the employer and a physician is essential.
- Inquire about a return-to-work program. Many employers have return-to-work programs that allow employees to return to work while still recovering from an injury. These programs, also known as light-duty programs, temporarily remove or modify tasks from the employee’s usual job description based on their physical limitations. Return-to-work programs may also offer a reduction in the number of required daily work hours.
- Ask for accommodations. Employees who have sustained an injury may need temporary or permanent workplace accommodations upon returning to work. These accommodations help the employee complete their job responsibilities after an injury. Examples include avoiding certain movements (e.g., bending or lifting), taking frequent breaks, or limiting the amount of time spent standing.
Additional sources used to create this article include the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Hartford, Occupational Medical Partners, and the U.S. Department of Labor.