Washington State University nursing Professor Denise Smart, BSN, DrPH, RN, has developed materials to save time and money for employees, employers and the states Department of Labor
Getting individuals who have a job-related injury or illness back to work as soon as possible was the goal of the state Safety & Health Investment Projects grant awarded to Smart at the College of Nursing in Spokane, Wash., according to a news release.
My commitment is to workplace safety, Smart said in the release. Getting someone back to work as soon as possible minimizes the disruption in their salary, their income and their livelihood.
There are also data that show injured workers recover more quickly when they return to their place
Her team began by surveying employers who are stakeholders in the states Early Return to Work program, which encourages return to work options much earlier in the claims process to benefit everyone involved.
After getting the survey results, Smart and her colleagues, which included nursing professor Melody Rasmor, BSN, RN, from WSU Vancouver, had a clear picture of what was needed.
We wanted to change the culture and change the mindset, Smart said in the release. We heard employers say, We dont have light duty work; we dont have modified duty work. If a worker cant come back at 100 percent, we cant bring them back.
The team developed materials for employers that mapped out the early return process and outlined modified-work duty that an injured worker could do before reassuming his or her former job.
Manual, DVD include training, resources
An occupational therapist and L&I expert worked with Smart to show employers how much an injured worker could do in a modified role. Sometimes, employers didnt know they could offer modified work roles to injured workers, or that the state offers financial incentives to employers with up to $10,000 in wage compensation, according to the release.
There are always tasks within a job that could be accommodated for an injured worker, Smart said in the release.
The team created a 35-page manual for employers about their options when an employee is injured. A DVD, with Spanish and Russian subtitles, is included. It features information for new employee orientation sessions, flowcharts explaining employer options, information about contacting healthcare and insurance providers and more.
Smart and Rasmor partnered with Rockwood Health System and Valley Hospital, both in Spokane, to produce the materials for employers.