By DAN REYNOLDS, senior editor of Risk & Insurance®
The argument over whether safety and return-to-work programs really benefit the bottom line really isn't an argument. That is, of course, unless you don't believe the basic tenets of mathematics.
To stay with the simplest of interpretations, what is really at work here? An injured employee is an employee that isn't producing. Therefore, for that employee's production to resume, another employee must be hired to take that employee's place until he or she can recover.
But wait, there's a catch. The injured employee has this thing called insurance, which must be paid for by an employer's premiums to a state fund or carrier.
How to erase this double bind? Bring the injured employee back to work as soon as she or he is able. If they can't do the job they were hired for, train them for some different task so that they can still produce and somewhere down the line, somewhere in your operations, you won't have to hire an employee number two.
And that's just the mercenary, my bottom line-only approach to it. What about the difference it makes to a human being to be able to work and feed and clothe his or her family, to not languish in some opiated state on the couch, gaining weight and watching reruns of Seinfeld?
There is the material there, but there is also the intangible asset of the spiritual and psychological well being of the worker, the person who can proudly say, "I make a difference in this world because of what I do."
We give awards at this magazine to companies and individuals who not only get the above spiritual and material mathematics, but believe in it passionately.
Think the folks at the Mayo Clinic are smart? They achieved $840,000 in savings through their return-to-work section in 2007. Think that sort of dough doesn't add up?
This is how humanistic that division is. It helps workers who are injured with their legal issues and the bills they've accrued so they can get their lives back as they recover.
Not only does Mayo help its own, but it partners with other big employers in its region to share the knowledge it has gained.
What about the Los Angeles Unified School District? In fiscal 2005-2006, the district saw a $236.9 million swing in its workers' compensation costs, in the main, by instituting a return-to-work program.
Think Minnesotans and Californians are that different than anyone else? Think I need to say anymore about this?
(Read the CounterPoint argument "Safety/Return to Work Program: A Drag on Profit.")
November 1, 2010
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