Ellen Burke, Vice President of Human Resources, RiverSpring Health

At RiverSpring Health, we decided to enhance our Workers’ Compensation process to ensure that the claims of our injured employees are effectively taken care of from the moment of the injury through to the employee’s return to work. Managing the claims not only improves staff satisfaction and reduces time lost by injured employees, but also addresses the increasing costs of workers’ compensation through more effective business operations.  

The “Post Injury Management” rollout entailed creating a “Workers’ Compensation Design Team.” Our department heads, union delegates, workers’ compensation carrier representative, and line staff partnered to focus on the redesign of our existing process. 

When an employee is injured, the supervisor now has a bright neon yellow envelope (easier to find on our busy desks) which details all of the instructions that need to be followed — telephone numbers to the insurance company (as claims are reported ASAP), car service and nearby Urgent Care Centers. In a more extreme emergency, it also details our internal procedure for notifying 911. Our supervisors have already been trained on what to do, which makes our supervisors feel more confident and secure if one of their employees does become injured on the job.

Our enhanced process includes providing transportation to an Urgent Care Center, where appropriate, with which we have already established a relationship. This way, the injured employee does not have to try and find a health care provider that accepts Workers’ Compensation or endure a long wait at an emergency room, resulting in wasted time and adding even more stress and anxiety to an already stressful situation.

The supervisor accompanies the employee to and from the Urgent Care Center. An injured employee may feel anxious, scared and concerned — as well as being in pain. Having the supervisor with the employee allows the employee to feel more secure and well taken care of.

When an injured employee is out of work, there is a potential that the injury will impact an organization’s productivity, efficiency and overtime costs. In addition, the injured employee’s morale may be impacted because the employee is not going to work. Supervisors call our injured employees on a regular basis to find out how they are feeling, let them know they are missed, and ensure connection, right through to his/her return to work.  

The redesign of the workers’ compensation process also includes a redesign of the Early Return to Work Program. Department Heads and union delegates teamed up to develop a bank of transitional tasks that will facilitate an injured employee’s early return to work in situations where his/her position cannot be directly modified to a lighter physical requirement level. We created 27 transitional tasks!  If the injured employee can return to work in a limited duty capacity, we have already identified many tasks that an injured employee can perform as they prepare to transition back to full duty — such as some clerical duties, answering call bells, serving food and visiting our residents. This way, our employees remain engaged. The longer an employee is out of work—such as more than 30 days — the less chance that the employee will ever come back to work.

Finally, we conduct a thorough Accident Analysis to ascertain what happened. This way, we can address any issues to prevent a reoccurrence and provide any retraining.

Overall, our success stories include a 26% decrease in the number of injured employees who lost time from work!

The new streamlined process and the continuous monitoring of incidents and claims have resulted in a more efficient Workers’ Compensation program. Managers and employees feel better about the process, knowing that such a system is in place to guide them through a stressful time. According to Yamil Velazquez, director of secureity and environmental services, “My participation in the workers’ comp process has provided me with the necessary focus, training and resources to properly respond to, investigate and manage staff reported injuries.  This has been an enlightening experience for me and one that I am happy and fortunate to be a part of.” 

Ellen Burke is the vice president of human resources at RiverSpring Health