Safety Programs

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Early Return
to Work
Post Accident
Drug Testing
Early Return
to Work
Post Accident
Drug Testing
Early Return to Work

Did you know that if an injured employee is absent from work due to a workers’ compensation injury for greater than 180 days, there is only a 10% chance he will return to his regular job? In order to mitigate the cost of workers’ compensation claims, reduce lost productivity and have a more successful medical outcome with injured individuals, an early return to work program is imperative.

Not all early return to work programs are created equally. With the help of your Synergy Coverage Solutions Loss Prevention Consultant, you can create the most effective program possible which will save money for your business and help your employees heal as quickly as possible.


Click the following links to read more.


Gone are the days that an injured worker did not return to work until he was released to full duty. On the contrary, we now live in a society where it is understood that returning to a temporarily modified job is not only a smart business decision from an economic standpoint, it also helps the employee to reach full recovery in a reduced period of time.
Below we have identified the top reasons you should implement and faithfully use an Early Return to Work Program.

1 Reduction in Medical Costs

It has been proven that medical costs associated with workers' compensation claims are greatly reduced when an injured worker returns to modified duty versus staying home. When an injured worker returns to work in some capacity, recovery comes at a faster rate, reducing workers' compensation claims cost.

2 Reduction in Lost Time Benefits

According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance, an Early Return to Work Program can decrease lost time compensation paid by 70%.

3 Reduction in Experience Modification Rate (EMR)

One factor in determining premium is the EMR, or "mod". The mod is determined by using a formula that takes into consideration the cost of claims your company has had each year. Using modified duty reduces claims cost which, in turn, reduces your mod.

4 Avoidance of Long Term or Permanent Disability

Muscle mass begins to deteriorate after only two weeks of inactivity. The longer an employee is out of work, the harder it is to get them back to any type of work at all.

5 Increased Productivity

No one knows your business like your own employees, so even with an injury, your employees are better able to contribute to your company's success than a temporary worker. Additionally, hiring staff to replace the injured worker has its own costs, including training, interviewing and hiring.

6 Improved Employee Morale

A Return to Work Program alleviates stresses of job security and income, both of which can have an impact on the injured worker's recovery time. A well defined and written program lets employees know your company values them and is concerned about their well being.

How to Create a Program

Before you begin writing and implementing your Early Return to Work Program, ensure that you have an accident reporting policy in place and provisions for choosing a company physician(s).

Template Download Early Return to Work Template


Identify a Return to Work Coordinator.


Write a Policy Statement to include:
A. Your company's commitment to the Return to Work process
B. A description of your company's Return to Work principles
C. The importance of safety in the workplace
D. The need to seek immediate medical care
E. The importance of returning injured employees to work


Contact your Claims Adjuster or Loss Prevention Consultant regarding the laws in your state as it pertains to directing medical treatment. Once your state laws are determined, define your company's procedure regarding immediate treatment of injuries based on those laws. If you can direct treatment, contact your Synergy Claims Adjuster for assistance in choosing designated medical providers. Designating medical providers can drastically reduce your claims cost.


Establish a relationship with your medical provider(s) and make sure they are aware that "light duty" is available to your employees.


Complete a Job Duty Assessment. Then decide how certain positions can be temporarily modified and consider jobs, such as office work, that can be accomplished by an employee with temporary restrictions.


Define the responsibilities of the following individuals if an injury occurs and results in the need for light duty:
A. The injured worker
B. Supervisors
C. The Return To Work Coordinator
D. The Synergy Claims Adjuster


Once the policy is written, inform your employees, your Synergy Coverage Solutions Claims Adjuster and your occupational health clinic of the specifics of your program.


Post a written summary of the policy to ensure all those affected are reminded of the part they play in the process.

Job Duty Assessment

Whenever possible, perform job assessments and develop transitional work assignments before an actual injury occurs. Completing a job duty assessment requires studying the mechanics of getting the particular job done.

Listing each task helps the employer describe the steps required to complete a job. This form, when combined with a physical demand checklist, helps employers compose thorough job descriptions. The descriptions will help recruit employees and will be a tool to send to the physician when asking for his/her response in bringing an injured worker back to work. Having a job description available for the physician’s review is essential.

  • Identify and summarize all job functions
    Include percentage of time spent at each task and educational or training requirements.
  • Measure physical demands
    Include distances walked, time spent sitting, standing, etc.
  • Note environmental conditions
  • List work schedule
    Including hours and breaks

The employer can assist the attending medical provider by providing a copy of the task analysis of the pre-injury job and a list of transitional duty tasks. Upon receipt of the transitional duty task list, have the injured worker sign the transitional work agreement form either in person or send it via certified mail. Once the employee signs this form, retain it for your records. If the employee refuses to accept the transitional offer of work assignments, or does not respond to the certified mail, contact your Synergy Coverage Solutions Claims Adjuster immediately.

Early Return to Work checklist

Use the list below as a checklist to ensure that your organization has all necessary items in place for a strong and effective
Early Return to Work Program:


Our company has developed and implemented a written workplace safety and health policy.


A Return to Work Coordinator for the company has been assigned and is aware of his/her responsibilities.


Management has endorsed a written Early Return to Work Program.


Synergy's Claims Adjuster has been notified of our company's Transitional Work program and has been informed of our Return to Work Coordinator.


All levels of management within the company are aware of the Early Return to Work Program and are actively committed to the program. Management training has been conducted.


The written Early Return to Work Program emphasizes the need for injured workers to promptly report all work related accidents and seek immediate medical evaluation and appropriate care. Workers also understand that the organization will make every effort to provide an opportunity for transitional work assignments.


The goals of the program are clearly communicated and defined to the entire company, employees and management.


A mechanism is in place (such as a line item in the employee performance measurement) that provides accountability to all levels of management for effective results of the program.


Possible transitional work assignments are identified and a list of these assignments has been created.


A designated medical provider or other occupational/industrial health clinic has been designated in writing for evaluation of all employees' work related injuries and/or illnesses. All employees are aware of the provider, as well as the location. Posters with this information are posted throughout the workplace.


The company's designated medical provider or other occupational/industrial health clinic has been notified of the company's Transitional Work program, positions that are available, and the company's willingness to accommodate work restrictions.

Post Accident Drug Testing

As a result of a formalized drug free workplace, employers have experienced a decrease in workplace accidents and workers’ compensation claims, employee mistakes, absenteeism and employee turnover. Other less tangible benefits companies notice are improved workplace environment, employee morale and customer satisfaction. Additionally, businesses in certain states may qualify for a discount on their workers’ compensation premiums if they have a drug free workplace program. According to the US Department of Labor, alcohol and drug abuse has been estimated to cost American businesses roughly 81 billion dollars in lost productivity in just one year.  This proves that a drug free workplace is necessary.

Severe Injury Protocol

In the event a workplace accident occurs and emergency treatment is required, please follow our Severe Injury Protocol as defined here. If a drug test was NOT completed in a severe workplace injury situation, immediately call 1-866-987-0042 within 24 hours of the accident. Synergy will attempt to coordinate a drug test using the preserved specimens from the hospital.

Synergy recommends having at least three Severe Injury Packets printed and available for quick access. Please make sure all management within your organization is trained on the procedure and can easily access these forms.

You may request physical packets from Synergy by clicking here.

Severe Injury Protocol Packet

Please refer to the links below for information on a variety of subjects related to a drug-free workplace.


National Institute on Drug Abuse
Office of National Drug Control Policy
U.S. National Library of Medicine
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance


Synergy Coverage Solutions requires our insureds to have a formalized post accident drug testing policy. We strongly encourage a Comprehensive drug free work place. Contact your loss prevention specialist for assistance in creating either of these policies. Additionally, please use the following links to help you in writing drug testing policies.

Drug Testing Policy Template

After you put your program together, communicate to your designated medical provider(s) that your policy is in place and to whom the test results must be sent. It is advisable to choose medical providers who not only collect the sample, but also have the capability for analysis and provision for a Medical Review Officer (MRO). An MRO is necessary in cases of positive test results from a controlled substance that was prescribed by a licensed medical provider.

For employers who have chosen to utilize Synergy’s in-house swab drug testing program in North Carolina, follow the instructions here. For employers in all other states using our swab drug testing program, follow the instructions in our Non-NC Saliva PADT Instruction Form. All positive Post Accident Drug Tests must be communicated to your Synergy Claims Adjuster.

Hiring Practices

Good Hiring Practices make good business sense for more than one reason. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 13% of injuries involving lost time from work occur within 90 days of hire. This statement alone makes it clear that effective pre-employment evaluations are necessary. While there are limits to what you can ask a potential employee, there are precautions you can take to minimize the risk of a bad hire.

Putting thought into creating a consistent policy for hiring will reduce business costs across the board. It is critical to develop hiring practices that are consistent to avoid discrimination. We suggest that after you create your policy, you contact your employment law attorney to ensure that all legal implications have been considered.

Elements Of a Good Hiring Practices Policy

An employer’s first step toward injury prevention is to ensure candidates are an appropriate match for the essential tasks of the job. There are several points during the hiring process where employers have the opportunity to ensure an appropriate candidate is hired.


  1. Applications, Interviews, and Reference Checks. These basic elements help you feel more confident in your knowledge of the person you want to hire.
  2. Clearly Defined Job Description. Employers are obligated to hire qualified employees who are able to fulfill their job duties. Consulting with Human Resources to ensure job descriptions are detailed and outline all essential job functions will help employers select appropriate hires. Job descriptions should include necessary qualifications, education level, and physical requirements needed to perform the essential duties for the position.
  3. Strength & Agility Testing. Pre-offer Strength & Agility testing allows an employer to ask applicants to describe or demonstrate how they would perform crucial job tasks to determine whether or not an applicant has the physical ability to perform essential job tasks. The employer may not ask disability-related questions or questions that are likely to divulge information about a disability.
  4. Integrity Testing. Integrity tests are designed to measure honesty, dependability, trustworthiness, conscientiousness, and reliability. Integrity tests help employers identify applicants who are likely to engage in theft or counterproductive work behavior, saving the employer from problems that may arise during employment.


  1. Background Checks. Background checks can protect your company and employees from potential theft, workplace violence, and other legal issues, while also preserving your company’s image and reputation. Background checks should be done on local and state levels. A federal criminal background check may be necessary when the applicant has not been a resident of a state for more than a certain time period.
  2. Post-offer Employment Testing. This assessment is performed after an official offer of employment has been made, but prior to the start date. Physicians cannot inquire about genetic or family medical history in any of these assessments. Post-offer Employment Testing typically includes:
    1. Medical history review with clinician
    2. Medical measurements
    3. Strength measures
    4. Dynamic lifting and progressive lifting sequence
    5. Cardiovascular measures
    6. Essential job functions testing demonstrating the capability to safely perform essential functions of the job
  3. Post-offer Medical Questionnaire. Today, our workforce is less conditioned than ever. Employees who are physically unable to perform essential job duties are a risk to themselves and their organizations. Post-offer Medical Questionnaires help establish whether or not the job candidate can perform their job duties without compromising their safety.
  4. Post-offer Drug Screening. Employers commonly make offers contingent upon completion of a drug and alcohol screen, which can only be performed with written consent from the job applicant. A formal, written, drug testing policy must be applied consistently to all applicants. Post-offer drug screens have been shown to decrease rates of absenteeism and claims costs.


  1. Health Insurance. Health insurance will assist in controlling losses by minimizing the cost shift towards workers’ compensation claims.
  2. Driving Records. Motor Vehicle Records, or MVR, must be obtained for all applicants who will be expected to drive as part of their job duties. Records should be checked at least once a year for all existing employees. Motor vehicle records should also be checked in the post-offer stage after a conditional offer has been made, if the job requires a significant amount of drive time.

Consider these elements for your hiring practice checklist:


Applications, Interviews, Reference Checks and Criminal Background Checks. These basic elements help you feel more confident in your knowledge of the person you want to hire. Background checks should be done on local and state levels. A federal criminal background check may be necessary when the applicant has not been a resident of a state for more than a certain time period.


Post Offer Physicals and Medical Questionnaire Today, our workforce is less conditioned than ever. In order to establish that the employee you are considering can perform their job duties without compromising their health, Post Offer Physicals and Medical Questionnaires are necessary. A four year study was recently performed on a car dealership who implemented a post offer physical program. The study entailed two groups of employees, those who had the post offer physical upon hire and those who did not. The group that had a post offer physical had only a 1% injury rate while those with no screening experienced a 23% injury rate.


Post Offer Drug Screening A formal, written drug testing program with provisions for post offer drug screening will help slower rates of absenteeism and lower claims costs.


Health Insurance Offering health insurance will assist in controlling losses by minimizing the cost shift towards workers' compensation claims.


Driving Records Motor Vehicle Records “MVR” must be obtained for all applicants who will be expected to drive as part of their job duties. Records should be checked at least once a year for all existing employees.

Templates and Links

Accident Investigation

Thousands of workplace accidents occur throughout the United States every day. The failure of people, equipment, supplies, or surroundings to behave or react as expected causes most of them. Accident investigations determine how and why these failures occur. By using the information gained through an investigation, a similar or perhaps more disastrous accident may be prevented. It is important to conduct accident investigations with prevention in mind.

As a general rule, you should investigate:

  • All injuries ... even the very minor ones.
  • All accidents with potential for injury.
  • Property damage, product damage, and "near miss" situations, so you can consider the root causes.
  • Every injury or illness entered on the OSHA Injury and Illness Log.


There are several options for accident investigations ranging from a safety director exploring the facts as each accident occurs, to a formal committee that convenes periodically to review the facts. It is imperative that the impacted employee and their supervisors are involved in the investigation.

OSHA Requirements

In addition to conducting your own in-house accident investigations, you should be aware of OSHA regulations. As of January 1, 2015, employers under OSHA jurisdiction are required to report:

  • All work-related fatalities within 8 hours of occurrence.
  • Fatalities occurring within 30 days of the work-related incident.
  • All work-related inpatient hospitalizations, amputations, and loss of an eye within 24 hours of occurrence (these incidents must be reported only if occurring within 24 hours of the work-related incident).

Employers can report to OSHA by:

  • Calling OSHA’s free and confidential number at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
  • Calling your nearest Area Office during normal business hours

If you have questions about the specifics of the OSHA 300 Log, contact your Loss Prevention Consultant.