If an employee injury is severe enough, disability may be inevitable. But be warned, a simple strain or contusion can escalate into disability without regular communication and encouragement from supervisors.
When an employee is injured they often worry that they will lose their job, their sense of stability, and their role as provider. If these feelings are not addressed in the first stages of an injury, it can lead to depression and anxiety. Those conditions make it difficult to follow a rehabilitation plan and return to work. By talking to an employee soon after an injury, you can provide reassurance and the commitment that the company will help them recover as fully as possible so they are able to return to work. Simple encouragement can work wonders for an injured employee.
Besides psychological setbacks, there are two physical factors that lead to disability. Chronic pain accounts for 10 percent of disability cases, and the other 90 percent is caused by “delayed recovery”. Each of which can be quelled with nurturing communication and a targeted recovery at work program.
When chronic pain takes over, a worker is less able to work, and susceptible to becoming addicted to narcotic painkillers, furthering their descent into disability. This should be a significant concern for any business owner because narcotic addiction skyrockets the cost of workers’ compensation claims by tens to hundreds-of-thousands of dollars, and removes an employee from the workforce. The best way to help your injured workers manage their pain is by formulating a targeted recovery at work program that will keep them active. These programs have proven to give injured employees the confidence to manage their pain.
The other 90 percent of disabilities that are caused by delayed recovery happen when the injured worker is not responding to medical treatment in a normal time frame. Normally, delayed recovery is due to preexisting conditions and co-morbidity; however many times it has to do with the injured worker’s feelings, thoughts, and coping mechanisms about the impending disability. There are also psychosocial factors like personality styles, cultural differences, economic drivers, and legal factors that can lead to delayed recovery. Once again, the best way to combat fears and expedite recovery is through communication. Continually reassure your injured worker that your company supports their recovery. If you can assure an injured worker that when they return any restrictions will be enforced so they will feel comfortable about coming back.
The Flanders Group knows that disability is scary for both employers and employees. If you have any questions about how direct, encouraging communication, and targeted recovery at work programs can prevent a common injury from turning into a disability, contact us today. And, for more information on workers’ compensation issues, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to this blog.