Justin S. Eppler
How Workers’ Compensation Helps State Employees Gradually Return to Work
Despite training and safety precautions, workplace accidents happen. Whether by accident or negligence, life-altering work injuries can occur in seconds. These injuries can include cuts and lacerations, broken bones, repetitive motion injuries and work-related illnesses.
Federal law entitles you to a safe workplace free of known health and safety hazards. If you’ve been injured on the job, you have a legal right to file a workers’ compensation claim. The Alaska Worker’s Compensation Act requires employers with one or more employees to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. Compensation includes disability and impairment benefits, medical expenses related to on-the-job injuries and more. As a state employee, you also may be entitled to the opportunity to return to work under “light duty.”
Returning to Work Under Light Duty Assignment
Recovering from an injury requires time and patience for your body to heal. This can be a frustrating time, especially if you experience setbacks. When your doctor does release you back to work, you might not be able to perform all the duties you did prior to the accident. In this case, your doctor may release you for light duty. Alaska’s Light Duty Return to Work (RTW) program allows state employees to go back to work while continuing to recover.
RTW is designed to provide productive work to help re-engage workers and ease the transition back to work. According to RTW, employers may provide workplace accommodations, modified hours or even a different position that you are physically capable of performing.
Benefits of Returning to Work
There are benefits for injured state workers who return to work as soon as they are medically able. Some benefits include:
- Financial stability
- Daily routine
- Maintain workplace relationships
- Alleviate boredom and depression
- Increase productivity
- An increased sense of purpose and self-esteem
If you’re recovering from a work injury, it’s important to understand your options for returning to work. While you should prioritize your recovery after an injury, accepting a light duty assignment when you are able can ease your transition back to work. Light duty can help you get back to work as soon as possible and help you maintain your sense of value and belonging.