In 2022, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation had a reported total of 167,254 work injury and illness related cases, 5,662 more than the previous year. The leading cause of these injuries stemmed from overexertion, including lifting, pushing, and pulling injuries. With Lancaster County having a highly populated area of industrial and physical labor jobs, understanding and knowing how to prevent or manage Workers’ Compensation injuries is very important. (Shapiro & Walker, 2023)
First, education is key! Workers, especially in physical job settings, need to be taught how to properly use their body to best prevent injury. For instance, when lifting a heavy item, it is safest to bend at the knees and hips and to keep the item close to the body to limit stress through the lower back. At Phoenix Physical Therapy, we offer employers the option to set up Post Offer Employment Testing (POET). POETs consist of a Certified Injury Prevention Specialist doing an onsite analysis to create a job specific test, which each potential employee then completes with our licensed Physical Therapists. In a recent meta-analysis published in 2022, POETs were shown to reduce employee turnover, while providing cost savings in the form of medical, drug, workers’ compensation, short-term disability, and preventable motor vehicle incidence. (Hoffman & Schaneman, 2023) Other educational ways to limit incidence of injury include assessing workplace set up, holding regular safety meetings, and ensuring proper understanding of company policy and procedures.
What should an employee do if an injury does occur? First and foremost, the employee should report the injury immediately to prevent delay in claims and ensure proper intervention of the injury. The employee will then proceed with receiving the proper care from a list of professionals on the company’s Worker Compensation panel of providers. If there is a lack of progress in 90 days of receiving care, the employee then has the option to seek care where they prefer.
As an employer, there are ways to ensure proper care and outcomes if injuries occur. As mentioned before, the employee has to receive care for the first 90 days from a provider on the company’s panel. In Pennsylvania, the employer has the option to select their own panel of 6 or more health care providers. This gives them the ability to ensure that their employees are receiving proper care by selecting professionals that truly understand the importance of safely and quickly returning the employee back to work. Early intervention is also key. Employers can help to reduce the incidence of reportable injuries by providing onsite early symptom intervention. This can help an ache or pain from progressing into a true reportable injury.
At Phoenix Physical Therapy, we provide options to the employers to find what fits best with their company. We offer services such as Employer Based Injury Prevention, Post-offer Employment Testing, Early Symptom Intervention, and Functional Capacity Evaluation. Our workers’ compensation rehab program focuses on treating the employee as an industrial athlete. We immediately request a job description so that job-specific training can begin on day one. Open communication is also provided with the employer to ensure they are up to date on the employees’ work status, which is assessed through work functional assessments either weekly or bi-weekly. Our goal is to provide efficient care that is goal oriented and job specific, to ensure employees’ safe return to work in the least number of days and visits.
If you would like to find out more information regarding job safety or our Workers’ Compensation Rehabilitation Program, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Shapiro, J., & Walker, N. (2023). (rep.). Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation and Workplace Safety Annual Report 2022. Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, Bureau of Worker’s Compensation. Retrieved August 3, 2023, from https://www.dli.pa.gov/Individuals/Workers-Compensation/publications/Documents/2022%20WC%20Annual%20Report.pdf.
Hoffman, B., & Schaneman, J. (2023). Post-Offer Employment Testing and Its Impact on Health Care Costs for Employers. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine, 65(2), e57–e60. https://doi.org/10.1097/JOM.0000000000002754