State to offer free online training on helping workers return after injury, illness

The Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) will offer a free online training program beginning in July to help employers develop or enhance the skills and knowledge to coordinate an employee’s return to employment after a work-related injury. The REWARD program covers six different aspects of the return-to-work journey that benefit both employers and their workers.
The training is part of the BWC’s newly developed Returning Employees to Work And Reducing Disabilities (REWARD) program. The initiative helps interested employers develop and customize a return-to-work program for their businesses. A REWARD program can be beneficial for both large and small employers.
An employer can have a REWARD program led by one person or a team approach. The training teaches safety managers, human resources professionals, risk managers, or other persons to find modified work opportunities and to encourage injured workers as they recover.
“Helping injured employees find their way back to meaningful work is a goal that benefits everyone,” said Abbie Hudgens, BWC Administrator. “Return-to-Work Coordinator Training provides employers with valuable skills and tools to make REWARD a reality for employers and their employees.”
The BWC training program utilizes expertise from vocational rehabilitation, case management, physical therapy, employers, medical providers, legal professionals, and state government to provide a comprehensive training experience.
The curriculum was developed with input from industry professionals and workers’ compensation case managers from across the state. The free virtual program includes 90-minute classes every other week beginning July 15, 2021. The six courses are:

  • Workers’ Compensation 101. Learn about employer and employee rights in workers’ compensation, the value of return-to-work advocacy, and the Bureau’s role in workers’ compensation. This course is taught by BWC personnel.
  • Job Demand Analysis. Job analysis experts will explain how they identify job tasks, job demands, and essential and marginal functions of jobs. They will explore the value of job analysis in return-to-work rather than a job description.
  • Working with Physicians. Relationships and shared expectations with physicians before and after a work injury improve the return-to-work process. Join a licensed physician and workers’ compensation expert as he discusses tips, techniques, and best practices for getting the most out of your physician relationships.
  • The Role of a Return-to-Work Coordinator. Join vocational experts and/or case managers as they identify the key tasks and responsibilities of a return-to-work coordinator. These experienced professionals will detail the best practices and activities they’ve seen work throughout their careers.
  • Effective Communication. The Bureau’s mediation director will share tips, techniques, and methods mediators use to positively influence and persuade, build credibility and trust, listen, obtain commitment, engage strong emotions, and lead change.
  • Legal Issues Outside Workers’ Compensation. Employers are subject to many state and federal regulations that affect their relationships with employers. Join attorneys experienced in employment law such as FMLA and the ADA as they discuss how these laws interact with workers’ compensation and return-to-work.

A return-to-work plan can reduce the costs involved with a workplace accident, which can amount to tens of thousands of dollars for a Tennessee business.
According to a 2018 National Council on Compensation Insurance study, the direct cost to employers for an employee injury averages $41,000 per claim. Indirect costs such as overtime, training temporary or replacement employees, and lost productivity are often greater than the direct costs.
Employers interested in return-to-work can enroll their employees in the BWC’s REWARD training by emailing Marion White a  [email protected] or calling (615) 253-1204.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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