Workers Compensation Early Return to Work Program

I. INTRODUCTION

Early return to work programs (ERTW) are designed for employees who have been released to return to work with temporary physical restrictions after having experienced an on the job injury, or illness. By offering modified duty and allowing the injured employee to return to work, within the medical restrictions dictated by the treating physician, ERTW programs reduce the potential impact of injury on the workers’ life as well as on the employer’s workers’ compensation costs.

Studies confirm that injured workers who are allowed to return to productive work as early as possible following an injury heal faster and better than those injured workers who remain off of work. Injured workers who return to work during their recovery period tend to require fewer medical treatments and incur less medical expense related to the injury. Work becomes part of medical treatment and rehabilitation and allows the injured worker to take an active role in his/her recovery.

Having an established ERTW program will provide the district with effective tools for managing workers’ compensation costs and the business costs related to lost time (absences). Implementing and maintaining an ERTW program as part of routine operations prepares everyone ahead of time in the event of an injury. Consistently applying the ERTW program helps ensure success.

Aldine ISD, as a Texas employer, is required, on written request of the injured worker, a doctor, the insurance carrier or the Texas Department of Insurance Division of Workers’ Compensation , to notify the employee; the employee’s treating doctor, if known to the employer and the insurance carrier of the existence or absence of opportunities for modified duty available through the employer.

Aldine ISD will make every reasonable effort to provide temporary suitable return to work opportunities for every employee who is unable to perform his/her regular duties following a work related injury/illness. This may include temporarily modifying the employee’s regular job or, if available, providing temporary alternate work depending on the employee’s physical capabilities. Only work that is meaningful and productive will be considered.

Modified duty assignments associated with ERTW are intended to fulfill a temporary need and shall be extended for a period of up to four (4) weeks. If an employee cannot return to regular duty within this timeframe, recovery shall be completed at home.

Having an ERTW program does not obligate Aldine to create unnecessary work or to return an injured worker if there is no appropriate productive work available. Aldine will make every reasonable effort to provide meaningful productive work that accommodates the injured workers’ medical abilities.

II. BENEFITS OF EARLY RETURN TO WORK

The district has an opportunity to significantly reduce workers’ compensation costs by consistently applying the early return to work program. Injured employees have the opportunity to improve their performance, prevent de-conditioning, regain functionality, and enhance their quality of life.

Benefits to the District

– Direct Savings

  • Workers’ compensations costs are reduced when Temporary Income Benefits (TIBs) cease or are adjusted when an injured worker returns to work;
  • Medical and disability costs are reduced and the employee’s recovery time is shortened;
  • Decreased loss ratios and experience modifiers help control premiums;
  • Productivity is maintained; and
  • Wage costs for substitute employees are saved.

– Indirect Savings

  • The district retains the production of the skilled and experienced workers;
  • Injured workers continue to contribute to the district;
  • No expenses for replacement workers – hiring, training, salary;
  • Work delays and interruptions are eliminated when an experienced employee returns to work;
  • Communication and relationships between employees and management are enhanced based on commitment by all parties;
  • Co-workers are not required to perform all of the injured workers’ duties; and
  • Aldine’s interest and concern for employees are reinforced.

Benefits to the Employee

  • Recovery time is shortened;
  • Injured employees remain active and productive;
  • Permanent disability associated with injury is reduced;
  • Concerns about continued employment are resolved;
  • District wages are earned bringing income closer to pre-injury wages;
  • Stress, boredom and depression from injury or illness and from being unproductive are reduced or eliminated;
  • Injured employees and their families experience less disruption to their lives;
  • Loss of physical fitness and muscle tone due to inactivity is prevented;
  • Injured employees maintain contact with and receive support from co-workers/friends;
  • Injured employee maintains job skills;
  • Feelings of dependency and lack of control are alleviated;
  • Pain and suffering are minimized and overall wellness is promoted; and
  • Reduced accident and injury related costs may help preserve benefits and job as well as contribute to improved work environment.

III. POLICY STATEMENT

Aldine ISD is committed to providing a safe workplace for our employees. Preventing work related injuries and illnesses is a fundamental goal.

Aldine ISD will make every reasonable effort to provide suitable return to work opportunities for every employee who is unable to perform his/her regular duties following a work related injury/illness. This may include temporarily modifying the employee’s regular job or, if available, providing temporary alternate work depending on the employee’s physical capabilities. Only work that is meaningful and productive will be considered.

The support and participation of management and all employees are essential for the success of the district’s Early Return to Work Program.

IV. INJURED EMPLOYEE PACKET

Aldine ISD is focused on preventing accidents, ensuring safety and carrying out our mission. This section of the web site has documents and forms that will assist administrators, nurses and injured employees with the workers’ compensation process. If you have any questions please contact the workers’ compensation specialist, Gloria Villanueva, [email protected] or Patricia Guidry, Director of Risk Management, [email protected].

As always we extended sincere wishes for a speedy recovery to all of our injured employees.

Forms and Documents for the Injured Employee Packet

I. Injured Employee Information

The Responsibilities Checklist helps the injured employee keep a clear record of responsibilities as they are completed.

The Aldine ISD Employee Accident Report is the first report of injury. Employees must complete this form within 24 hours of injury. Typically the accident report is immediately given to the employee when the notification of injury is made to the supervisor. The injured employee and the principal or department director sign the form. The completed accident report is then submitted to the AISD workers’ compensation specialist.

The Responsibilities document gives a high-level overview of the employee’s responsibilities.

The Procedures for Reporting a Work Related Injury document assists the injured employee with the workers’ compensation process and identifies the responsibilities associated with making a claim.

The TRS22 W document informs employees who are nearing retirement what TRS procedures are for receiving service and/or salary credit when a compensable injury occurs.

The Paid Leave Election Form is used when employees will be absent from work as a result of the job related injury or illness. The form allows the employee to indicate whether they choose to use sick leave days or not. The employee makes an election and signs the form. The leave election form is then submitted to the AISD workers’ compensation specialist along with the employee accident report.

All employees that have been absent due to a work related injury have responsibilities that are identified in the Return to Work Procedures for Employees on Workers’ Compensation document. Among those responsibilities is the duty to report to Central Office and visit with the workers’ compensation specialist, to begin the return to work process.

Frequently Asked Questions by the injured worker.

The Workers’ Compensation Claims Administration Questionnaire was created to evaluate our services and improve the quality of the administration of all claims. Please take a moment to complete the survey so that we may continue to provide high quality service to our injured employees and caring administrators.

II. Information for Physician

Informs the treating physician that Aldine ISD has an early return to work program that extends modified duty; if available.

Job Descriptions at this time are not on the web page. The injured employee’s principal or department director will furnish this information prior to the initial physician’s appointment.

The DWC 73 is a work status report that is to be completed by the physician. The doctor’s office may already have copies of this form however one is provided for convenience. Additionally, the injured employee is familiar with the required doctor’s note that must be submitted to Aldine.