The purpose of workers’ compensation is to ensure injured employees receive the financial and medical assistance they need to heal. Following an injury, the vast majority of workers want to eventually return to work and continue to contribute and provide for themselves and their loved ones.
If you’ve sustained a work-related injury, your short- and long-term health outcomes are of the utmost importance. If and when you return to your job, it’s vitally important that you take precautions and prioritize your health and safety every step of the way.
Here are some important tips for returning to work safely after an injury:
1. Wait for Your Doctor’s Approval
You should not return to work until your doctor has given you approval to do so. Firstly, returning to work before it has been deemed medically safe could put you at risk of getting reinjured, which could threaten your long-term health. Secondly, if you return to work without your doctor’s approval, it could jeopardize an existing workers’ compensation claim.
In a workers’ comp situation, your doctor may be potentially liable if they approve you to return to work before the injury has healed completely, or as much as is possible, and then you suffer another injury. While both you and your employer may want you to get back to work as soon as possible, this may not be in the best interests of either party. Don’t damage your health or your workers’ comp claim by returning to work before you’ve been cleared by your physician.
2. Keep Your Employer Informed
Any time you’re recovering from an injury, it’s important to stay in touch with your place of work. Keeping your employer informed about your progress and plans helps protect your medical, financial, and legal interests. Give your employer regular updates on your medical progress, any medical restrictions, any accommodations you require, and status updates on when you may return to work.
Once you return to work, continue to communicate clearly and regularly with your employer about how you’re feeling physically and mentally. While in-person check-ins are also important, written updates are the best way to document your recovery and protect your legal interests in the future.
3. Document Any Restrictions or Limitations
It’s important to communicate honestly and clearly with your doctor about how you’re feeling, as this will help them recommend any restrictions for your work. Even if you’re feeling completely recovered, your doctor may give you instructions to avoid overexertion and activities that may result in re-injury. Document these restrictions and communicate them to your employer in writing to ensure they understand exactly what you can and cannot do.
4. Start Slow & Listen to Your Body
Before you return to work, make sure you’re feeling physically and mentally prepared. Remember, just because you feel ready to go back to work doesn’t mean you’re necessarily able to do the exact same work you did before the injury. You may not be up to performing the same tasks that you once did right away, and that’s perfectly okay.
Here are a few ways to make returning to work easier and help mitigate the risk of reinjury:
- Take shorter shifts and lighter loads at first.
- Follow proper safety measures at all times.
- Try to prioritize sleep and rest while you’re at home.
- Take a few moments to stretch and rest before lifting heavy equipment or exerting yourself in any way.
- When you need a break, take a break.
5. If You Need Help, Ask For It
Working too hard and too fast when you return to work after an injury can damage your health and ability to work in the future. It can also be emotionally and psychologically difficult to go back to the place where you sustained your injury. If you find yourself needing a hand, don’t be afraid to reach out. Seek support from your employer, supervisors, coworkers, and friends as you readjust to being back at work, and try not to expect too much of yourself right off the bat.
Are You Struggling With a Workplace Injury? Contact RGMR For Legal Advice & Help
Workers’ comp attorneys specialize in helping injured and disabled workers fight for the financial and medical help they need to heal. Maybe you’ve just sustained a work-related injury and you need advice on how to file a workers’ compensation claim. Maybe your claim was denied and you need help deciding what to do next. Or perhaps your employer expects you to return to work before you’re ready. Whatever the case, the experienced and compassionate workers’ compensation attorneys at Ransom, Gilbertson, Martin, & Ratliff, LLP are here to defend your rights, advocate on your behalf, and ensure you get the help you deserve.
Contact us today to get a free consultation. We don’t charge fees and we don’t accept any money from you unless we win your case.