Do you write off injured workers -- approve the workers' compensation claims, shuffle in replacements, and forget the wounded until their months on the dole are over? If so, you may be missing an opportunity.

Employees who are injured on the job don't necessarily have to be lost to workers' comp, says Thomas Lynch, of Lynch, Ryan & Associates Inc., a benefits consulting firm in Westboro, Mass. Companies can bring many of the injured back to do light tasks around the factory or office, thereby raising productivity, lowering insurance costs, and boosting morale at the same time.

"Think about tasks you've always wanted done but never had people around to do," Lynch says. "Weed through them: some can be done seated, others with one hand.'

Then, says Lynch, negotiate a temporary job description together with the injured employee and his or her doctor. In cases in which light or restricted work is possible, Lynch claims that many employees will accept the offer. "People want to work, they want to feel useful," he says.

And the business's benefit? In addition to getting worthwhile tasks accomplished, companies that routinely pursue this policy -- and have at least 80 to 100 employees insured under what is known as a loss-sensitive plan -- can receive refunds of 40% or more on their annual workers' compensation premiums, according to Lynch. Smaller companies usually don't qualify for refunds, but they may eventually get lower premiums.

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