Do you write off injured workers--approve the workers' compensation claims, find replacements,and say goodbye-for-now to the injured party? You might not have to. Employees hurt on the job don't have to be lost to workers' comp.Thomas Lynch, of Lynch, Ryan & Associates, a benefits consulting firm, in Westborough, Mass., and a wholly owned subsidiary of Travelers Corp., saysthat companies can bring many people who can't do their main task back to work to help with light jobs around the plant or office. That raises productivity,lowers insurance costs, and can boost morale at the same time.

Lynch recommends that you negotiate temporary job descriptions with the injured employee and his or her doctor. In cases in which light or restricted work ispossible, Lynch has seen many people accept the offer.

Companies that routinely institute this policy--and have at least 80 to 100 employees insured under what is known as a loss-sensitive plan--can receive refundsof 40% or more on their annual workers' compensation premiums, Lynch notes. Smaller companies usually don't qualify for refunds, but they mayeventually get lower premiums.

Harry Featherstone, CEO of Will-Burt, an industrial manufacturer, in Orville, Ohio, credits an early-return-to-work program with cutting his workers' compclaims from $175,000 to just $3,000 annually.