What You Need To Know About Work Injuries
- What makes work injuries different
- Why you need an injury care plan
- How an occupational health provider can help
Deepa Rajakrishnan, MD, MBA, director of medical operations and James Waugh, PT, MPT, director of therapy operations
Opening and agenda
Hello and welcome to the Concentra webinar, What You Need to Know About Injury Care. Today’s webinar will be presented by Jim Waugh, who is a physical therapist and director of physical therapy operations at Concentra, and Dr. Deepa Rajakrishnan, physician and director of medical operations at Concentra. Both Jim and Dr. Deepa have extensive experience in occupational medicine and work injury care.
At the conclusion of the presentation we will have a 10 to 15 minute Q&A session with Jim and Dr. Deepa. They will answer as many questions as possible within the time allowed. The slides and a recording of the webinar will be e-mailed to you after the presentation. You can view them again at your convenience.
Jim, Dr. Deepa, we're ready to begin.
What makes work injuries different
Well, thank you. Hello, everybody. Good afternoon. So the first slide is just sort of an introductory slide. So, in this webinar, we are going to be discussing about work injuries. We will also discuss the impact of work injuries to you and to the community. The key to remember is that injuries at work are most definitely preventable, but not totally avoidable.
So, in our agenda for today, we're going to cover what makes work injuries different, the importance of having an injury care plan, and why you should work with an occupational health care provider.
Not only can work injuries put employees at risk, they can reduce productivity, affect company morale, and increase workers' compensation claims that impact your insurance rates. Moreover, many work injuries are preventable with proper training and awareness.
According to the OSHA standard 1904.5, an injury is defined as a work-related only if an event or an exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the injury or significantly aggravated a preexisting injury or illness.
The general rule is an injury or an illness is presumed to be work-related when it occurs because of events in the workplace. Whether or not injuries and illness are caused by something in the work environment is key to determining if an injury is work-related. It’s critical that you know what OSHA considers the work environment to be to avoid recordkeeping mistakes.
OSHA defines the work environment as the establishment or other locations where one or more employees is working or is present as a condition of their employment. The work environment includes not only physical location, but also the equipment or materials used by the employee during the course of his or her work. So, if you're an industry that relies on keeping recordables down, how a work injury impacts your business may be different from an industry that does not have to think about that.
Too many recordables can have a negative effect on the bottom line.
Having an injury care plan can change how much an injury impacts your business because there's a difference in being prepared or not. So, knowing your process and who needs to do what and when can streamline the whole process so that the employee gets back to work faster and minimizes the impact to your business.
The more severe injury is, the more it can impact your business. For example, an employee with a broken back may be out of work longer than an employee who just sprained their wrist, for example, even though a minor injury can also have significant costs.
The cost of work injuries
Work injuries include two types of cost: direct costs and indirect costs. Direct costs are what you pay, such as claims costs, medical costs, etcetera, which are also the same costs that you would be paying for personal injury. In addition to direct costs, work injuries have an indirect or indemnity cost. These include the employee’s time away from work, temporary labor costs, training cost, and much more.
The evidence that indirect costs have a large impact on work injuries is overwhelming. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a single sprain incurred at work can result in approximately $30,000 in direct costs and almost $33,000 in indirect costs. How much of the direct costs you pay depends on your workers' compensation insurance policy but you will always be responsible for the indirect costs. And an injured employee’s time away from work means a lot of lost productivity. This can impact your business both in the short and long term.
The impact of indirect costs can be greatly influenced by a number of factors either positively or negatively. These factors include the injured employee’s direct supervisor, coworkers, family and friends, TV, internet and billboard advertising, HR safety manager, time away from work, the medical provider, the therapist, specialist, adjuster, nurse case manager, and/or the lawyer. However, negative influences can be mitigated if you have a good relationship with your occupational health care provider, which can result in the best patient outcomes and lower costs per claim.
You need an injury care plan
Having an injury care plan in place helps to facilitate the return-to-work process, the time delays, and returning your injured employee back to work as soon as possible. That is best for the employee and the company. The injured employee can also recover faster and resume normal work and life functions sooner. After an injury takes place, it's easier to act if you already have a plan in place. Immediately following an injury, managers, supervisors, and the employee should all know where to go, who to contact, and what to do.
So, the key is, you may not be able to avoid every workplace injury, but you can prepare to take action by developing an injury care plan. Why is this important? According to data, every day more than 12 employees die on the job – about 4,400 a year. Every year, more than 4.1 million employees suffer a serious job-related injury or illness. An enhanced focus on prevention is needed to bring these numbers down.
Again, you may not be able to avoid every workplace injury, but you can be prepared to take action when an injury does occur by developing an injury care plan. By working with an occupational health provider, you can be confident that your employees will receive exceptional care delivered by a team of occupational health care specialists.
These are some of the steps for getting started on an injury care plan:
- Identify a work injury care provider.
- Develop a plan that details what employees should do if they are injured at work.
- Prepare your team by identifying who is responsible for documenting the injury and authorizing the treatment.
- Tour the selected medical center to see where your employees will get care. Ask if a clinician can visit your workplace.
- Share your injury care plan with your employees. It's very important that they are aware of what the next steps should be.
Then you'll be ready when an injury occurs. Touring the selected medical center where your employees will get care is pretty critical.
We will cover more of what to look for in an injury care provider in a few minutes, but for now, here are six things you should require. An injury care provider you work with should:
- Be easy for the employees to get to. The harder it is for the employee to get care, the more likely he or she will not finish the treatment plan. The provider you choose should be easy to get to, whether that means being located close to your workplace or offering transportation to employees.
- Be in-network with the insurance carrier. This one goes without saying. If your provider isn’t in-network, you will be paying more out of pocket.
- Provide all services you need under one roof. This ties back to the community aspect we've talked about. Having all the services an employee needs to get better – whether that's injury care, physical therapy, specialty care, or something else – in one place makes it easy for them to complete their treatment plan. And this also results in better outcomes for you.
- Be an expert in workers' compensation and federal and state regulations. This is a must. If the clinician does not know workers' compensation and state and federal regulations, they won't be able to deliver the best outcome. For example, a physician who does not know OSHA regulations may provide great care but may mark an injury as recordable when it could be first aid.
- Focus on return to work. Again, a clinician who is not an expert in OSHA regulations may provide great care but may not always consider the return to work and the impact of injuries on the employer.
- Be able to communicate with you about the injury proactively
Partnering with an occupational health provider
In addition to finding an occupational health care provider, you need to identify which of your team members will be responsible for documenting the injury and authorizing that treatment. It's always best to create a plan that details what employees should do after a work injury. Knowing what everyone should do and when they should do it is essential. Who is involved in that plan can depend on the size of your company, your insurance carrier, and your state's workers' compensation regulations. At minimum, you should identify roles and responsibilities for your employees.
The slide you're viewing now is an example of a basic injury care plan. You can use this checklist to get started on creating your own. We will also provide the resources, a picture of this slide, as well as the whole presentation, after this call, so that you can then use this to start your own injury care plan.
It's also important that you share your plan with your employees to show them that you care. A work-related injury can be troubling, especially if the employee stands to lose time from work. Making sure your employees know what to do after an injury not only provides them a clear process to follow, but it also reassures them that you will do everything you can to support them at every step of the way. The investment that you make today will help ensure your employees are well prepared, avoid treatment delays, and lead to better overall outcomes. Best practice for sharing your plan is to have a team meeting so you can proactively address any questions or concerns that they may have.
When partnering with an occupational health care provider is a good idea to tour their facility, as we mentioned earlier. Touring the medical facility not only shows you where your employees will get their care, but it also gives you the opportunity to meet the medical staff, which is the key to your partnership.
Why do you need an occupational health provider?
Qualified occupational health care professionals can assist employers in achieving a safe and healthful work environment. Along with other safety and health professionals, occupational health care professionals work collaboratively with labor and management to identify potential hazards and to find ways to prevent, eliminate, minimize or reduce hazards. They also help develop and manage training programs to promote workplace health and safety. They provide training to specific chemicals or exposures, including pre-placement, post-offer physical examinations, job placement assessments, periodic examinations, and maintenance of confidential employee health records, including individual screening.
It also helps to manage and/or treat work-related illnesses and injuries with emphasis on earlier intervention. They can also make recommendations about work restrictions and follow up to monitor employees as they return to work. They also help develop health promotion programs and provide guidance for case management of employees with prolonged or complex illnesses or injuries.
We've seen research that shows returning an injured employee to work and normal activities as quickly as possible positively impacts physical and emotional recovery. This mean thinking of the employee as an athlete, almost like an industrial athlete. That helps to understand how the return to function is critical: regaining function, not just solving pain. Continued input to progress in function will give the injured employee the confidence which will further impact not only the physical, but also the emotional recovery. There are some studies that show how early intervention not only helps the injured employee recover faster but also helps to reduce costs.
What’s different about occupational health?
What's different about occupational health and regular non-occupational clinicians? Even though both provide great care, occupational health clinicians apply workers’ compensation; they practice early return to work and focus on the return-to-work process; and they know and understand OSHA regulations.
Some primary care or other non-occupational health care clinicians may have some experience in workers’ compensation and OSHA regulations, but they likely will not be as knowledgeable in them.
So, why should you partner with an occupational health care provider? There are several reasons:
- Occupational health care clinicians provide great care and focus on helping employees recover safely and quickly.
- Every state has different workers' compensation regulations and occupational health care clinicians stay up-to-date on those regulations to help you get quality outcomes.
- Occupational health care clinicians are trained in best practices in managing the process of return to work and what is and what is not a recordable injury.
- Occupational health clinicians stay updated on all federal and state regulations so they can deliver the best care possible to your injured employees.
Why choose Concentra?
Why would you want to choose Concentra? A lot of the things that we covered earlier in the presentation as qualities of a good occupational health care provider are exactly what Concentra can offer. We offer complimentary transportation for all initial work injuries. We are in-network with all major workers' compensation insurance carriers. We stay up-to-date on state and federal regulations, and we require that our clinicians have regular training.
We have more than 40 years of proven return-to-work outcomes. Your employees can receive all the services they need in a single location, and we have an online reporting system to keep you informed on the progress of your employee’s injury recovery at each and every visit.
As you can see from this picture of the map, Concentra has a very large footprint. We operate more than 650 clinics and onsites in 43 states. We are a nationally recognized expert in work injury care and occupational health, and we offer a full range of services, including work injury care, occupational medicine, urgent care, physical therapy, drug tests, Department of Transportation physicals, preventive care, and much more.
That concludes our presentation for today, and we will be opening it up for questions.