Return to work

Preventing workplace injuries and illness is the responsibility of everyone at the workplace. When injuries and illness do occur, however, it is important minimize the human and financial impacts by focusing on getting the worker back to safe and productive work as soon as medically possible.

Return to work is the process or strategy of safely returning employees to the workplace in a timely manner. The goal is to return the worker to their pre-injury position through complete cooperation of employee and employer.

Most injured workers can return to some type of work even while they are still recovering. Returning to daily work and life activities can actually help in the recovery process. In fact, research shows that the longer a worker is off work due to injury or illness, the less likelihood there is of that person returning to work.

Communication is important for a successful return to work. Workers benefit when they know the company is interested in their well being. Health care providers may not understand the work that is available so it is important for employers to advise them of the kinds of work that the company has available for injured workers.


The modified work plan may include:

  • working in different locations
  • modified job duties
  • re-assignment to a different job
  • altered or reduced work hours




The samples provided are intended to be modified to meet company or site-specific requirements. Without such modifications, they may not be appropriate. Although IHSA believes that the information provided is consistent with the legal requirements and/or good industry practices which prevailed at the time the information was compiled, users of this information are urged to check with current regulations, local/trade practices and the most recent edition of the reference material to ensure that it is still appropriate.


Last Updated: March 25, 2020