ergonomic deliverables Sep 17, 2020

What I'm going to share with you today is from a Masterclass training that I just delivered to the members of my Accelerate program - the only online marketing AND high-level ergonomic support program designed specifically for Ergonomics Professionals (click that link to find out when enrollment is opened again).

I'm such a big plan with Ergonomics Professionals getting into Functional Accommodation work that I wanted to share some of the take-aways from this Masterclass. With adding Functional Accommodation services there is a shift that naturally occurs - from 1 client /1 service to 1 client/multiple services just with the nature of this type of deliverable.

Shifting from 1 client/1 service to 1 client/multiple services is how you can become more profitable as a business. Why? Well, firstly more services are being delivered. Secondly, you'll spend less time marketing your services too. Consistently combining these two factors will increase income while lowering all that stress and frustration to find more clients. 

When it comes down to it, there's really only three types of services that we can offer clients: assessments, consultations, and trainings. The graphic below really shows the possibility to the types of services you could be offering clients and how consulting to clients with Functional Accommodation services can allow you to offer higher-priced 1-to-1 ergonomic assessments. 

Intrigued? Great! Let's dive into this post! 


Return-to-Work, Functional Accommodations, & Ergonomics

Normally what we do as Ergonomics Professionals is that we identify and then remove the risk out of a particular job that we assess to prevent an injury from ever occurring in the first place.

But what happens when an injury couldn't be prevented at work (compensable) or when an employee gets injured during the weekend (non-compensable)? This is where we would offer value in the area of Reactive Ergonomics, as the graphic below shows! 

The goal in Reactive Ergonomics is a Safe and Timely Return-to-Work.

  • Safe: The worker's functional abilities match the demands of the job. 
  • Timely: Length of time to achieve RTW (Claim Duration). Doing this effectively can prevent lengthy (and expensive) time-loss claims.  
  • Return-to-Work: Initially, this person will be on accommodated duties. Finally, the goal is to have the person return to a pre-injury job or suitable duties instead. 

The vehicle that this can be accomplished through is FUNCTIONAL ACCOMMODATIONS. 

What are Functional Accommodations?  

Functional Accommodations are like a super-secret cheat code to almost guarantee success (within reason, of course) with Return-to-Work. 

It works like this:

  • Injured worker goes to their Treating Practitioner (Doctor, PT, etc) and gets a functional assessment 
  • This functional information is sent to the workplace
  • Modified job duties or alternative/suitable work are then carried out based on what they can do based on the functional assessment
  • As the person progresses in their treatment and healing, new functional information is obtained, and a new Return-to-Work plan is developed based on those new functional abilities 

Leveraging Functional Accommodations in Return-to-Work is really about using our human performance/movement expertise creatively.

In a way, we are working backwards. In the next section I'm going to break-down how to leverage our expertise to provide our clients with a sought service. 

Leveraging Functional Accommodations

In the past, I've described ergonomics as "fitting the job to the person". With Return-to-Work this process is totally flipped on it's head - we want to fit the person functional limitations to the job and then make even more modifications or accommodations if that entire job isn't a fit.  

This is because there's a big cost to that employer, via a claim and lost production to have that worker not at work. Adding to that if an employee is out of work for too long, then it can be extra-challenging to bring that person back to work... if that's even possible. 

Looking at the big picture, there are two separate options with return-to-work, take a look at the graphic below for a visual representation:

  • Option 1: An immediate and safe Return-to-Work happens when the Functional Abilities match the job demands. There are no accommodated duties required and that person can Return-to-Work immediately.
  • Option 2: There's a mismatch between the Functional Abilities of that person and the Demands of the job. It's unsafe for that person to return to that pre-injury job and work modifications, transitional duties, and accommodated work is required to do so. 

I want to move onto how we go about finding accommodated work. Remember that it's always based on the functions capabilities of that person and the functional requirements of that job.  

The 4 Options are: 

  • Option 1: Eliminate duties from the usual job
  • Option 2: Eliminate duties from the usual job and add duties from another job
  • Option 3: Assign another job that meets the injured worker's Functional Abilities  
  • Option 4: Assign duties from various other jobs. 

Check out the graphic below for another explanation of how this works. As the person progresses through their Return-to-Work plan, you might end up using a combination of all of these options. 

Final Thoughts 

With Return-to-Work, functional information is KEY. When possible that person should be returned to work within their same department. And having updated functional information from their treating practitioner is absolutely essential for progress towards their pre-injury job.

Every month in my program Accelerate, I do a unique training on either a high-level aspect of ergonomics OR how to find more paying clients for your services. 

Want to learn more? Click here to sign-up to the Waitlist so I can let you know once enrollment opens again. 


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