Every day in the United States, employees are injured on the job, despite state and Federal workplace safety legislation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that there are approximately 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in American per year. The number has declined slightly from 3.2 cases per 100 employed workers (2014) to 3.0 workplace injuries per 100 workers. To learn more about the instances of worker injuries by labor sector and job description, visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics for the most recent injury data from 2015.
The Nature and Causes of Workplace Injuries in the United State
In one private study and report conducted by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, it was revealed that workplace injuries contribute more than $25 billion dollars per year (on average) in workers’ compensation costs. The report reviewed the most recent data available (2012) to determine the cause of workplace injuries, and the cost to the Workers’ Compensation Program.
- Employee overexertion contributed to 25.3 percent of workplace injury cases, at a cost of $15.1 billion dollars in 2012.
- On the job falling injuries were responsible for 15.4 percent of worker injuries, at a loss of $9.19 billion dollars.
- Roadway accidents, or injuries that involved heavy equipment, employer-owned vehicles, or other motorized vehicles accounted for 5.3 percent of injuries, at a loss of $3.18 billion dollars.
Repetitive motion injuries (RMI), including prolonged positioning for sitting or stationary standing, were responsible for $1.84 billion dollars of loss, and accounted for 3.1 percent of workplace injuries. Even though many employers (and employees) view RMI injuries to be of less concern, they can cause catastrophic loss of mobility.
5 Steps to Launching a New Career After a Workplace Injury
After a worker’s injury, has been resolved, a former employee must start a journey to discover new employment opportunities that will align with adjusted physical or cognitive capabilities, depending on the nature of the injury.
1. Seeking Unemployment Benefits
Workers that are unable to return to their pre-injury position with their employer may qualify for unemployment insurance, while they seek a new job that is physically or cognitively appropriate. While requirements to qualify for unemployment assistance after a workplace injury vary by state, workers are typically required to prove that they are:
- Available for work.
- Medically cleared to work (with modifications) and clearance from the insurer and/or physician. If a worker is not physically capable of accepting a new employment position, they will not qualify for unemployment benefits, and may pursue disability support instead.
- Actively seeking employment daily. Unemployment beneficiaries must provide evidence of job application and active interviewing, while receiving financial support from the program.
- Legally able to work within the United States. Non-citizens may qualify for unemployment benefits, permitting that they can prove they were legally employed for the minimum amount of time required.
Previously injured workers who are physically cleared to engage in full-time employment may also qualify for free or low-cost vocational training programs to help them acquire the skills to become gainfully employed in another role.
2. Engage in Job Research
Injured workers who have fully recovered from their workplace injuries should engage in vocational research to determine other suitable positions that can help them restore their pre-injury wage. Vocational training and coaching may be provided, depending on the severity of the injury, through insurance coverage, and many programs allow workers to volunteer or participate in mentorship programs that expose them to new and suitable career options.
Workers’ compensation does provide free vocational training to minimize costs for the employer and the program, by helping workers retrain successfully for new careers. It should be noted, however, that the goal of vocational rehabilitation is to restore (as closely as possible) the injured worker’s pre-injury earnings. For instance, if pre-injury earnings were $45,000 per year, workers may not be approved for retraining in an advanced career, where income may exceed the amount of annual wage loss.
3. Start Networking
One of the best ways to find a new job is to let people in your social and professional circles know that you are actively looking for employment. Many job opportunities are fulfilled by personal referral, so let family, friends, and previous co-workers know what kind of job you are looking for, and allow your personal network to connect you to employer opportunities.
Never underestimate the power of LinkedIn, even if you have never used the professional business network for job search. Spend some time updating your LinkedIn personal profile. Here are some tips to get you started, and learn more about free job search tools available on LinkedIn that allow you to search by geographic area, job type, and other criteria to help you connect to companies that are hiring.
4. Get a Professional Resume and Cover Letter
If you are not sure what kind of new job would suit you best, it is recommended that you have multiple versions of your resume prepared that are tailored to different career opportunities If you are not confident about the best style of resume or CV to use, ask for help, or consider hiring a professional resume service to give you the tools you need to get your foot in the door of quality businesses.
5. Register with a Professional Recruitment Agency
While you are looking for suitable jobs online, it would help to have a team of recruiters looking on your behalf. From entry-level to service and retail or administrative jobs, businesses rely on recruiting organizations to connect them to qualified candidates. Enjoy the convenience of having job opportunities emailed to you, for review, on a weekly basis to expedite your job search. Personal injury lawyers in Albany, New York recommend the use of recruiting agencies to help post-injury workers find quality careers and full-time employment.
Recovery after a workplace injury is the priority for Americans; however, after physical or cognitive symptoms are resolved, getting back to work can take time and persistent effort, particularly if a career change is required due to medical restrictions. There are resources available to help previously injured employees find new employment opportunities, and a fresh start.