Workplace ergonomic adaptations keep STD exactly that…short term
Liz Masters, a 28 year old Communications Specialist in an IT Department, was involved in a motor vehicle accident. Although she sustained some residual medical issues related to neck pain and headaches, she continued to work parttime. Six months later, the pain became too severe for her to continue and her doctor recommended that she stop working, rest, and undertake physical therapy. As a result, Liz filed a short term disability claim. Based on the claimant’s report, the treating provider viewed her job as sedentary with strict prolonged sitting.
Evaluating workplace solutions
Once case management was initiated, the STD assignment was immediately referred to John Runzo, a Guardian vocational rehabilitation specialist, for further evaluation. John began the case review with the question "why?"—"Why can Liz not sit or stand at the workplace? If the claimant could change position as needed, could she return to work?"John first addressed his inquiry with the employer, then the doctor, to ensure a complete workplace assessment. In addition, Liz's doctor reported she could return to work if able to change positions from sit-to-stand as desired.
An assigned local vocational ergonomic specialist visited the worksite and performed a job analysis. The assessment determined that Liz would need to physically change positions often as well as avert excessive neck bending to avoid exacerbating her condition by sitting at a computer desk and staring at a monitor. The workplace evaluation also revealed that the workstation was too high, causing Liz to move her neck extensively.
After completing the assessment and several communications with both employer and doctor, recommendations were made for some ergonomic adaptations. This included a hydraulic sit-stand workstation and an ergonomic chair, but the employer was concerned about costs. They were relieved to learn that Guardian would reimburse up to $2500 of related expenses.
Happily returned to work
As recommended (and doctor approved), the equipment was purchased and Liz was able to safely return to work in a situation that would minimize the strain and neck extension she previously experienced. Meanwhile, the employer was able to retain a valued employee at no cost to them. The good news: Liz returned to work prior to the end of her short term claim, thus preventing both the likelihood of a long term claim as well as possible termination from her employer. That's when customers realize the true value of Guardian’s Short Term Disability benefits.