A facilitated Early Return to Work Program at a Large Urban Medical Center

Edward J. Bernacki, Jill A Guidera, John A. Schaefer, Shan Tsai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

An Early Return to Work Program was initiated at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Associated Schools of Medicine, Hygiene and Nursing in Baltimore, Maryland, in April 1992 as part of a comprehensive effort to control the incidence and costs of work-related illnesses and injuries. The program was similar to others that incorporate employee and supervisory training and job accommodation, but it also included an industrial hygienist trained in ergonomics to facilitate the placement of individuals with restrictions. The return to work program was studied over a 10-year period, comparing the number of lost workday cases, lost workdays, and restricted duty days before (1989 to 1992) and after (1993 to 1999) initiation of the program. A significant decrease (55%) was observed in the rate of lost workday cases before versus after the return to work program. Furthermore, the number of lost workdays decreased from an average of 26.3 per 100 employees before, to 12.0 per 100 employees after, the return to work initiative, and the number of restricted duty days went from an average of 0.63 per 100 employees to 13.4 per 100 employees (a twentyfold increase). The study suggests that a well-structured early return to work program is an integral part of a comprehensive effort to control the duration of disability associated with occupational injuries and illness. It also indicates that to be most effective, an early return to work program must include participation by medical providers, safety professionals, injured employees, and supervisors. Our work suggests that even with these elements in place, the effectiveness of return to work programs may be increased by including an individual trained in ergonomics to facilitate the job placement process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1172-1177
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of occupational and environmental medicine
Volume42
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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