Employee illness and injury scenarios are extremely costly for any business, and have the potential to be complicated and emotional – both for the employee, and for the employer. Besides the physical and emotional pain and struggle that the employee often faces, they also often suffer from prolonged earnings losses. Likewise, the employer faces the costs of reimbursing the employee, medical costs, making up for lost productivity, and sometimes companies face costly litigation.

Workplace injuries and other non-work related injuries and illness have the potential to impact any business, at any time. Being prepared for such an event will help both the employer and employee navigate these difficult scenarios. To understand just how many of these events affect businesses and employees nationwide, we’ve rounded up some of the most impactful return to work statistics.

Injured Workers and Lost Work Days

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were nearly 3 million non-fatal workplace injuries in 2014 – resulting in the equivalent of 3.2 cases for every 100 full-time-equivalent employees. This number doesn’t include non-workplace related injuries and illness, making it clear just how many of these types of events occur each year.

Additionally, nearly 30% of employees that are injured on the job lose days from work. As an example, 1.1 million people suffered a workplace injury in 2008, resulting in over 8.5 million days of combined lost productivity throughout the U.S. This lost productivity has a direct impact on the employer, the employee, and the economy a whole

The severity of the injury or illness often has a direct impact on the number of days an employee will be out of work, and how much the injury or illness will cost the employee and employer. In general, the longer an employee is out of work, the more costs the employer will face in terms of lost production, hiring and training a replacement, and lost administrative time.

Employees Not Returning to Work

Adding insult to injury, the longer an employee is out of work as a result of an illness or injury, the less-likely they are to return to work. Studies suggest that when an employee is out of work for more than six months, they have less than a 50% chance of ever returning to work in any capacity.

The Impact of Return to Work Programs

The good news is that these studies also show that 80-90% of injured employees would rather return to work than collect disability. This is where return to work programs become especially important, bridging the gap between unemployment and the ability to successfully reenter the workplace.

According to the RAND Institute for Civil Justice, having a return to work program in place reduces the length of an injured employee’s absence by an average of 3.6 weeks. Even for an employee who faces a permanent disability, a return to work program reduces the average number of weeks out of work by 12.6 weeks.

Injured and disabled employees can often return to work sooner when the employer has alternative light-duty transitional work available, and makes physical accommodations as is necessary.

Catalyst Return to Work specialists can help your business navigate the return to work process, from the moment your employee is disabled, until they are successfully reintegrated into a long-term employment solution. Contact us today to learn more about TransitionALL®, our home-based modified-duty program.