Hiring and Drug Testing
Successful workers compensation programs focus on prevention. An employer’s first step toward injury prevention is to ensure candidates are an appropriate match for the responsibilities of the positions you fill. It is important to know the essential functions of each job and what physical requirements are needed to perform those functions. Whether or not your candidates meet those qualifications can be determined through effective interviews, background checks, and pre-employment physicals and drug screens. A candidate with the right background, physical ability to do the job, and one who doesn’t come with inherent risky behaviors is a smart hire.
Job descriptions are an important tool for your hiring practices, internal promotions, and your workers compensation program. Job descriptions outline the “essential functions” of the job. Essential functions are those that are key components of the job that are the reasons the job exists (i.e. typing is an essential function of a secretarial job; driving is an essential function of a delivery driver job, etc.). Of equal importance, a job description should include physical requirements necessary to perform the job. Not only will it help identify whether candidates are physically capable of doing the job and thereby helping to prevent future injuries, but the job description itself can be provided to your occupational medicine clinic as part of your Return to Work program.
Download a Job Description Template to get started.
An impaired employee not only puts themselves at risk of injury, but other employees as well. To help prevent bringing employees with risk behaviors into the workplace, almost all employers these days conduct pre-employment drug screens once a candidate is given a contingent offer of employment. An employer can also implement strict drug-free workplace policies to include reasonable suspicion, random and post-accident drug screenings. Workplace drug policies and procedures go a long way towards preventing work injuries.
Applicants and employees should know what physical requirements are needed for the job they are applying for. Physical requirements should be clearly spelled out in job descriptions and employment ads. A best practice to ensure candidates are able to physically perform essential functions is to conduct pre-employment physicals. A pre-employment physical may reveal that a candidate is not able to perform the job physically and without risk of injury.
Return to Work
Sometimes despite your best efforts, an employee gets injured at work. Having a return to work program in place before an injury occurs can greatly reduce the amount of time an employee sits at home, and the overall cost of a workmans comp claim. Ideally, the employee is able to fully return to their normal position and job duties, following a workplace accident.
Before An Injury Occurs:
- Develop a formal transitional duty return to work (RTW) statement
- Train all current and new employees on your commitment and value of RTW
- Develop a RTW statement that is given to medical providers at appointments
- Identify the most common types of injuries expected (strains, amputations etc.)
- Identify a set of tasks (not jobs), generally low skill, that are available - also referred to as "light duty accommodations." Use this list as a general guide until you know more about the injury and potential restrictions
- Identify when a job or task assignment could be used as an accommodation
- Identify when additional help is available to perform heavier tasks
- Establish med-clinic relationships, or provide RTW training to local doctors (see below)
Once you have your return to work program in place, it is critical you establish a good working relationship with a doctor or clinic that has a positive return to work philosophy, and is quick to share work restrictions. It does not matter how robust your return to work program is if the doctors you're working with don't understand the critical importance of recovery at work, or refuse to share critical information. Finding the right doctor, or providing return to work training to doctors in your area, will help you get your employees back to good health faster and more fully than sitting at home.
Make sure your employees and supervisors know about your return to work program, and lay out clear expectations that RTW is to be used following a workplace injury. Be sure to document their understanding of the program and expectations as soon as possible after hire.
Minnesota Comp Advisor’s team of work comp and HR experts are here to help you put the right preventative processes in place, and to make sure they continue to be effective for your company and your employees. We have resources and expertise to help you build a work environment that is as safe as possible for your employees, from job descriptions and hiring practices through establishing occupational health clinics and drug free programs, as well as training and other injury preventing programs.
Call us today for a free assessment of your work comp program – 612-236-1871 or firstname.lastname@example.org.