The initial phase of an employee returning to work after a serious injury can be problematic for employers. Often you’re given vague details from doctors on allowable work tasks stating what an employee can and can’t do. In turn, this creates unnecessary friction during the transition. One solution that many employers are now adopting is using total cost of risk (TCOR) to resolve workers comp issues.
A Common Conundrum
Here’s the scenario. An employee received a disabling workplace injury and was out of the job for an extended period of time. Upon returning to work, you’re given nebulous restrictions from their physician. The issue is that there’s a lack of specificity with their restrictions. To make matters worse, the guidelines are generic and not unique to the employee’s exact position.
You’re then left scratching your head trying to figure out which tasks to assign the employee. You obviously want to comply with the physician’s restrictions and ensure that the employee doesn’t re-aggravate their injury. However, you’re not 100 percent sure which tasks are okay and which should be avoided.
The Multiple Uses of TCOR
According to The Safeguard Group, Inc., the formal definition of TCOR is “The total cost of the items that businesses are responsible for, such as insurance premiums, retained losses in the form of deductibles and uninsured losses, indirect costs of claims and administrative costs and other factors.”
Although it’s most commonly associated with insurance premiums, it serves multiple other purposes:
- Self-insured losses
- Internal administrative fees
- Eliminating or minimizing business interruptions
- Cyber protection
Using it for Workers Comp
As more and more businesses are finding out, it works well for resolving workers comp issues. Judie Tsanopoulos, system director of integrated absence management and risk control at St. Joseph Health System, can testify to the impact that using TCOR to resolve workers comp issues can have.
According to her, this approach enabled her to win the support of her company’s upper management for a job function matching, testing, and analysis program. The end result was a significant reduction in lost work days.
First, a licensed physical therapist is hired with the primary purpose of job function matching. This person thoroughly examines the physical demands of the various jobs within your company. Whenever an injured employee is considering returning to work, the physical therapist will assess their capabilities and provide a list of specific tasks they can complete once they return.
For instance, they may be able to complete 8 out of 10 tasks. Having this level of specificity ensures that workers only complete tasks that are safe, which aids in injury prevention and reduces lost work days. It’s truly a win-win.
TCOR has several applications. While using it to resolve workers comp issues might not be the first thing that comes to mind, the impact is undeniable. Therefore, it’s something that you may want to implement when injured workers are transitioning back to the job.