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Role of the injured workers supervisor
  • Supervisors must understand their role as it relates to employee injuries and provide the necessary support upon the employee’s return to work.
  • Supervisors should treat employees in a manner that ensures the employee feels valued and supported upon returning to work.

Management and supervisory personnel must understand all the components of work injuries, and they need to appreciate their role in the management of an injury. At some companies, it may mean that they accompany injured workers to the doctor, or that they supervise the restricted duty.

Supervisors should be trained on company policy for work-related injuries and illnesses and what their roles are within the company. In general, the supervisory staff should be taught how to stay in weekly contact with the employee and to offer support upon return.

The supervisor should participate in:

  • Finding the facts surrounding the incident by being involved in the investigation.
  • Learning about the nature of the injury and how long any resulting disability or restricted duty is likely to last.
  • Reviewing the return to work (RTW) restrictions by consulting with others if necessary — nurse, treating physician, human resources, or safety personnel.
  • Identifying appropriate restricted duty, consistent with the physician’s recommendations. The job or task should be meaningful and necessary but need not be necessarily desirable in the employee’s mind.
  • Ensuring that the injured worker assigned to a restricted duty job understands restrictions.
  • Maintaining regular and personal contact with the injured worker.
  • Determining the source of any problems the employee experiences in the performance of the assigned, restricted duties; the supervisor should determine the source of these problems and deal with them accordingly.

Sometimes, a supervisor might blame the employee for the injury or be ineffective or overbearing in their dealings with an injured employee. Most injured employees want to feel valued at their workplace. Supervisors must be trained on how to handle the paperwork for a claim, but also how to handle the person behind the claim.

When supervisors treat injured employees with dignity and respect at the time of injury and throughout the recovery process, the duration of lost work time shrinks. The right behavior by the supervisor can prevent the relationship with the employee from turning adversarial.

The right behavior can also have a positive impact on the treating physician. Doctors are more inclined to support an employee’s RTW when they know that the workplace environment is supportive.