ergonomic deliverables Jun 22, 2021
 

What I’m going to share with you in this post is a service deliverable that you can leverage: Functional Accommodations. Have you heard about this before? Are you already offering this type of service to the employers in your community? If not, I’m going to share a few things to consider in how to get started. As ever, the foundation is communicating it (aka marketing) so that our network, prospects, and clients are aware that we’re offering these types of services. Below, I’m going to tell you about the value proposition and the steps you need to put in place for your client's organization. Read on to find out how you can get your hands on a useful functional accommodation form. 

Why Does Marketing Matter to Your Business?

One of my first mentors told me that ergonomics professionals are some of the worst marketers out there. I truly believe that there’s a huge opportunity for those ergonomic professionals who have the skillset, yet feel under-utilized. Communicating to the employers in your area that you’re offering this type of service and knowing how to use modern marketing systems are key elements for your business.

To give you a visual perspective on the importance of marketing, I have a really useful analogy for you. Imagine that you're in a race and you're about to run the 100-meter dash. Not marketing your services is like stopping at the 90-meter mark at a 100-meter race. Let’s say you’ve put in 90% of the work building your expertise, taking the right courses, keeping up with the literature, and providing your customers  excellent services. The remaining 10% is to execute some simple marketing to get on your prospect’s radar and what I've noticed is that many Ergonomics Consultants stop at this point, leaving the race incomplete.

Functional Accommodations is a valuable service offering that’s in line with our skillset. But oftentimes, employers don't know that they need this type of service or someone like you can help them with their challenges with regards to Return-to-Work. That’s where marketing comes in. If you know about my background, I’ve done Disability Case Management for a year because I saw that there’s an opportunity to involve ergonomics. However, one thing I realized is that doing case management and managing disabilities can take a lot of your time. The need is already there. Communicating that need in a way an employer understands is very helpful to the process. 

For this reason, I developed my signature program called Accelerate. With Accelerate, you can get all the skills, tools, and resources that you need to execute your marketing strategy and grow your skill set. Additionally, you can be a part of an excellent community of like-minded ergonomics consultants from around the world. I know that learning how to do marketing can be quite challenging at first. However, if you're not executing simple marketing fundamentals, you’re just like that runner stopping at 90 meters without fully realizing the opportunity and potential. Find out how Accelerate can support you to establish yourself as the go-to ergonomic consultant at the end of this post.

Functional Accommodation 

As Ergonomics Professionals, we usually perform preventative measures to avoid workplace injuries, which includes identifying and eliminating the risk out of a particular job that we assess. However, in the event that the safety of the workers is compromised, we also provide value in the area of Reactive Ergonomics. This means that when an injury couldn't be prevented at work (compensable) or when a worker gets injured during the weekend (non-compensable), our skill set can be used in Return-to-Work. 

When we’re doing this type of service, our goal is to facilitate a safe and timely return-to-work.

  1. Safe - this means that the worker's functional abilities should match the demands of the job. 
  2. Timely - refers to the length of time to achieve RTW (Claim Duration). Doing this efficiently can help avoid lengthy and costly time-loss claims.  
  3. Return-to-Work - the employee will initially be on accommodated duties. The goal is to have that employee return to a pre-injury job or suitable duties that match with their functional capabilities. 

Benefits of RTW

  1. Stay-At-Work (SAW) or Return-to-Work (RTW) programs can show that employers are proactively helping their injured workers return to productive and safe work when physically possible. 
  2. Early intervention through participation in RTW programs can help injured workers safely perform productive work during the process of recovery. It's often mentioned in the literature that it's best for the injured employee to be back to work and have all of those relationships to help them get through the injury.
  3. Naturally, keeping the worker on the job through a Return-to-Work program and with accommodations can help stop the duration of the claim (if it's a time-loss claim).

The Ideal Return-to-Work Process

As an ergonomics consultant, you may need to set up a process for your client. Below are the steps to assist employers with getting an injured employee back to work.

Step 1: Notification of an injury. 

After a compensable or non-compensable injury occurs, the employee calls or emails the supervisor, manager, or human resources to inform them of the injury and whether they're coming into work. 

Step 2: Functional Accommodation Form

The HR will send a Functional Accommodation Form to the treating practitioner. The really cool thing about joining the Accelerate is that I’m putting the finishing touches on a Functional Accommodation Form that you can use to help set up this ideal return-to-work process. The employer can give your Functional Accommodation Form to their treating practitioner or whoever that employee’s treating practitioner is. There's no personal medical information on this, just functional information that you can use to help in the return-to-work process. After that, the treating practitioner completes the Functional Accommodation Form.

Step 3: Identify a suitable work for the employee

The training practitioner (whether or not they do a Functional Abilities Evaluation or they have the equipment at the clinic) measures the employee’s physical capabilities. This includes measuring functional tasks like sitting, standing, walking, as well as measuring material-handling activities such as lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, and any other physical limitations that can prevent them from a safe and effective return to work. 

Step 4: Monitor

From that point, you can make a good return-to-work plan. It usually involves giving the employee a graduated increase in hours, and as soon as it's safe to do so, a graduated functional capabilities to include more of those pre-injury duties. You should also expect to get updates of a Functional Accommodation Form from the training practitioner every two weeks.

Now let’s move on to how we go about finding accommodated work for the injured employee. For this, you have four options:

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.

Other Services You Can Offer Employers

The next thing I want to talk about is the other types of services that you can offer employers when you're assisting them with Functional Accommodation services. The first service you can offer is consultations. You want to assist your clients set up their process and provide documentation. The other thing you can offer is a Job Demands Analysis or Job Demands Description of the usual job. Most organizations may already have these on file, but they just need to be updated. If they don't have it yet, you can develop it from scratch. All you need to do is measure all the physical aspects of that job in as much detail as possible. You want to make sure that you’re safely returning these people back to work. The last type of service that you can offer is helping that employer find a safe and appropriate accommodation and make ergonomic modifications. 

What’s Your Next Step?

So what are your next steps? Is this how you want to do ergonomic consultations? Is this type of service valuable for you? If it is, I highly recommend looking at Accelerate. Like I’ve mentioned, you can have access to resources that will help you to not only market your business but also provide valuable services to your employers as well. The enrollment for the Accelerate program is on June 28, 2021. Click here to sign-up for the waitlist so I can let you know once enrollment opens.

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