Columbia Basin embraces early-return-to-work with creativity

April 23, 2020

A successful return to work program for an employer can have a significant impact on their employees’ workers’ compensation claims. Not only is it beneficial to the employer by reducing their claims costs and reducing the need to hire temporary workers to fill the employee’s position, but it has immense benefits to the employee, even if the employee is brought back only part time.

Injured workers may worry about the future and losing their job. By returning to work early with work restrictions, the workers gain the following benefits:

  1. They feel needed and reassured
  2. They typically retain their usual wages
  3. They maintain their level of physical fitness to do the job by coming in to work regularly
  4. They retain their self-image of being a productive employee
  5. The worker’s stress is reduced

Also, it is proven that depression starts to set in the more an injured worker is off work. Thus, this would result in an increase in claims costs, as there would be more time off work and the potential to add mental illness to the claim.

Jeanne Trepanier with Columbia Basin Hospital, who manages workers’ compensation claims and works very closely with WSHA’s workers’ compensation unit, knows exactly how all these factors can affect a claim and her employees. Even though she stated on February 19, 2020, that she is not able to accommodate every single time due to budget reasons, she is able to accommodate relatively frequently. The reason for this? Her creativity! Jeanne will use her creativity to come up with various light-duty jobs even if it’s not within the employee’s department and will seek out supervisors to see if there are any light-duty positions available.

Way to go Jeanne for your creativity and innovation for a successful light-duty program!


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