Don’t Let Work Comp Spook You

Anna Kleiner

Each year, the costs associated with work-related injuries and disabilities impact company bottom lines. In 2013 alone, there were 3 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported in the U.S.1  Even if you haven’t had a workplace injury yet, one may be just around the corner. For the uninformed, everything about workers’ compensation and on-the-job injury can seem like a maze designed to scare you away from ever getting your employees the care they need.

In an ideal world, your employees would never get injured. But accidents happen and employees get hurt. The good news is that a cost-efficient, outcomes-driven occupational medicine program can help you navigate the complicated world of workers’ compensation claims—and help keep your employees from getting injured again. Here’s what to do to keep yourself from getting “spooked” by workers’ comp.

Find the right provider.

This is the first and most important step. The right provider won’t just treat your employees and help them return safely—and quickly—back to work. They’ll also help you develop an injury care process, so that when employees do get injured, a plan is in place to get employees the care they need, right away. They can also help you educate your employees so that understand the benefits of returning to work—and how to stay safer on the job.

Before you start looking for an occ med provider, though, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do I want to accomplish?

    Do you want someone to guide you through the work comp process? Do you want to prevent on-the-job injury? Do you need to lower your claims costs? Whatever your goals, it’s important to keep them in mind when looking for a provider so that you can discuss your needs upfront.

  2. Does my provider need to be trained in occupational medicine?

    The answer to this question should always, always be “yes.” Occupational medicine providers are trained to treat work comp injuries and workforce health. They’ll typically have extensive knowledge in regulations relevant to your industry, such as DOT, FAA, and OSHA—and they know what to do to get your employees quickly and safely back to work.

  3. Do I need an experienced provider?

    “The answer is always yes.” While it’s most important that your provider specialize in occupational medicine, it’s also important to partner with an experienced provider—especially if you’re new to workers’ compensation and need guidance on what’s best for your workforce. 


Establish an injury care process.

Work-related injuries come with complicated regulations and requirements that can make getting your employees the care they need frustrating and confusing. An established injury care process prepares you and your workforce for work-related injuries before they even occur, so that when they do, you have a process already in place to quickly get your employee on the road to recovery.

An experienced occupational medicine provider can help you develop your injury care process so that you’ll have what works best for you and your workforce. If you’re already at this stage with your provider, take a moment to look at your current injury care process and see if it has these essentials:

1. An assessment of each injury and its urgency
2. Patient interviews so that you can learn and eliminate the cause of the injury
3. Established treatment plans focused on continued activity, modified duty, and return-to-work
4. Coordination of specialist referrals when appropriate to drive recovery

Educate your employees.

Your employees can be reluctant to return to work after an injury. For some, there may be a psychological concern that they will be injured again or that working will increase the pain of injury. These employees are often unaware that returning to work benefits them not only professionally, but also personally. Staying active and returning to work creates a positive impact on self-image, relationships with family and friends, and even speeds up recovery.

Occupational medicine clinicians are trained to treat injured employees as industrial athletes, helping them get back on the job—and in the game—as soon as appropriate. They educate employees on the benefits of return to work and also address potential challenges that may delay recovery. This speeds recovery and increases the rate of treatment plan completion, reducing medically-unnecessary disability and overall lost-duty days.

As you start to navigate the world of workers’ compensation, don’t let yourself be spooked by all of the rules and regulations out there. Make sure to take the time to set yourself up for success so that you can create the program you need to keep your workforce healthy and productive now and in the years to come.

If you want to learn even MORE about workers’ compensation and occupational medicine, download our free white paper, The 12 Simple Steps to a Successful Occupational Medicine Program.

[1] Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Employer-Related Workplace Injury and Illness Summary.