Tips to Reduce the Amount of Time You Are Off Work – For Claimants
June 16, 2017
The goal of worker’s compensation is to assist the injured worker during recovery and ultimately see them return to work at some capacity. This series is designed to give those involved in a worker’s compensation claim direction on how to handle a claim from the beginning. This is the 3rd post in the series. The first focused on case managers.
Protect yourself from injury and illness
- Build a relationship with your supervisor. Should you become injured in the future, they will be an important advocate that will have influence to get you what you need to return to work[i].
- Do what you can to avoid injury and illness. Follow workplace safety guidelines. When you have questions, ask for clarification[ii]. Follow any tips or restrictions your doctor has given you. Keep yourself healthyi.
- When you know something is wrong, look into it – seek out professionals who can help you figure out what is wrong, do your own research. Your health and wellbeing is ultimately your responsibility[iii].
- Workplace morale is as important as safety features or procedures. Make sure management is aware of potential issues as they arise – both safety and relationship issuesii.
When an injury occurs: first steps and treatment
- Communicate with your employer and the human resources department immediately upon becoming injured or as soon as you notice pain related to your job. This lets your employer know what’s going on with you physically, mentally, and emotionallyii.
- Even if the injury you sustained is physical, be aware you need to heal mentally as well. Ask for advice about psychological treatment and mind-body therapies such as yoga. Exercise, healthy relationships and hobbies can also improve your wellbeingiii.
- Remember it is normal for your recovery to be affected by things that don’t have anything to do with work or the injury[iv].
- Talk with your supports before you’re at the end of your rope – talk to your doctor, your boss. Seek out advice from your case manager or adjuster. Anticipate the help you need and get it in place as you need it. There is a lot of support out there, but if you don’t speak up, you may never hear about itiv.
- Learn as much as you can about your treatment from your doctor. Ask questions about side effects and downsides to treatments, procedures, and medicationsiii. This is especially important for surgeries.
- Hurt doesn’t always mean harm. Understand what pain or discomfort is normal and what is abnormal. Oftentimes movement and activity is an important part of healing and pain management. At the same time, be aware that flare-ups may occur. Talk with your doctor about how to handle flare-ups[v].
You’re off work, now what?
- Keep in contact with your coworkers. That will make your transition back to work smoother[vi].
- Understand the return to work process and how you fit into it. The sooner you understand the process, the better you can prepare yourself. When you are ready to return to work, you’ll know what to expectiii.
- Explain your job in detail to everyone on your case and let them know what you can and cannot do. That way, they can assist you in making sure your return to work plan is appropriate and will be successfuliv.
Preparing yourself to return to work
- Be flexible and understanding with your employer regarding the accommodations you need to return to work. Communicate with your healthcare professionals and your employer to work out appropriate work modifications as necessaryi.
- The sooner you return to work, the better the outcome will be. You might have to be flexible though, and take on alternate duties or reduced hoursi.
- Be careful not to restrict yourself too much. Too much restriction can leave you feeling bored, frustrated, and unproductive, which may delay your recoveryiv.
After you return to work
- Be patient with yourself. You may not return to work at your previous capacity. Instead, be open to a graduated return to work plan with identified goals initiallyv.
- Modified duties will change as you become ready and continue to re-integrate into the workplace. Be sure to have regular meetings or check-ins with your doctor, therapist, case manager, adjuster, and employer to make sure everyone is on the same page[vii].