Returning to work is a team effort

Imagine a normal day at your workplace. Meetings, phone calls, production. Just another routine day. But then, the unexpected happens. An employee passes out mid shift, requiring serious medical attention.

You might remember this story from the employee’s perspective, as we told it a few years ago. So how can an employer handle the sudden loss of a worker while still helping to aid in the employee’s recovery? Here are some tips for employers that I’ve learned during my time as a disability and productivity consultant with The Standard:

Putting together a return-to-work plan is key
As you may recall, the employee’s fainting spell stemmed from a more serious issue that required emergency surgery to insert a pacemaker. But his return to work hit some stumbling blocks, particularly regarding whether the mechanical station on which he worked would affect his pacemaker.

There isn’t a “typical” return-to-work scenario for any employee. This employee’s situation was complex — recovering from surgery, building strength, ensuring equipment was safe to work with. The employer worked with me to develop a return-to-work plan so the employee could safely resume doing the job he loved.

Had the employer not considered a return-to-work plan, the employee could have remained out on disability, or worse, been injured on the job.

Use available resources to reduce the burden of complex situations
They say the devil is in the details, and it was certainly true in this case. There could have been serious issues for the employee related to the equipment’s electromagnetic field if not properly considered.

I stepped in to consult with multiple parties and arrange safe working conditions for this employee. I organized a conference call with the on-site safety coordinator at the production plant, the employee’s supervisor, the employer’s human resources representative and a specialist from the pacemaker manufacturer to discuss the employee’s return to work.

This call was important because the situation required expertise beyond what human resources, safety or I could offer. We spoke with the appropriate professionals to ensure everyone had the necessary information to make the right decision. Taking that extra step, to make sure everyone had input, helped ensure the employee’s working conditions were safe when he returned.

You might think all employers understand these options, but that’s not always the case. Working with a team, including the Workplace Possibilities℠ experts, can help employees return to work safely and quickly.

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