Early return to work after an injury or illness offers benefits to both the employee and the company. The savings and benefits apply to both occupational and non-occupational injuries and illnesses. The longer an employee is out of work, the larger the claim becomes, as the lost time portion of the claim accumulates. In fact, while lost time claims are only 23 percent of all workers’ comp claims, they account for 94 percent of claim costs, reinforcing the need to bring employees back to work, even if they are unable to fulfill their prior duties.

Step 1
Develop a policy for Return-to-Work that reflects your company’s commitment.

Step 2
Include both management and labor representation in the planning process and assign an individual or a Return-to-Work team to be responsible for the program.

Step 3
Develop functional job descriptions that describe physical and other job requirements of all positions.

Step 4
Identify opportunities for transitional duty at your facility.

Step 5
all employees (including management) and medical providers about your program.


Step 6
Set up a procedure for early reporting of any injury or illness.

Step 7
Send the employee for medical treatment right away.

Step 8
Stay in touch with the employee. Maintain communication among all parties (employee, employer, medical provider, insurance carrier), keeping everyone updated and informed. Communication and coordination are key elements in the effectiveness of a RTW program.

Step 9
the incident. Determine possible causes and solutions to prevent reoccurrence. Implement necessary safety interventions.

Step 10
Bring the employee back to work in an appropriate capacity as soon as possible (according to medical recommendation) engaging the employee and negotiating accommodation. Job analysis / workstation assessment may be necessary to confirm job demands and determine transitional opportunities.

Return to Work – Employer Law
Ask JAN – Interactive Process
Dept. of Labor – State Labor Laws
OSHA Safety Programs
Claims Journal – Special Report