Friday, February 8, 2013

EAPs: Workers' Comp Payment for Psychological Harm On the March

Run, don't walk to the press release machine to announce to the world how effective employee assistance programs (EAPs) can be in helping employees who have been exposed to critical incidents and as a result helping mitigate posttraumatic stress effects and workers' compensation costs!

The restrictions on paying for psychological harm and emotional stress associated with critical incidents injuries has re-awakened in the aftermath of the Newton, Connecticut child mass shooting episode. The rationale driving the legislative reviews and arguing for paying workers for psychological harm is the 20 first-responders who have still not made it back to work because of posttraumatic stress or emotional harm. And other states are reviewing their workers' comp laws as well.

I don't see the discussion in the mainstream media about the value of EAPs, but you and I both know that EAP involvement can mitigate traumatic stress and lead to possibly less impact on first responders and therefore help to avoid Workers' Compensation payouts or at least reduce or minimize them.

This saves companies money. EAPA, now is your time to get to the New York Times and offer an interview or send a press lease enmass to respectable news outlets.

How many of these first responders are alcoholic or drug addicted persons in or out of former recovery? An EAP referral would find out. Isn't it possible that addictive relapse is involved in some of these cases? Who is going to assess that? There are a whole host of issues here to discuss as well. What is the role of the family members of first responders since this incident? How are they helping or hurting the goal of getting these employees back to work. Is it really necessary to head immediately to the legislative office to start sending these employees a paycheck? Perhaps, but what about a half-way stop with solid EAP promotion and involvement in these cases. I do not pretend to know how what is taking place in Newton with EAPs and those workers. However, I do know nationwide that many first responders do not access decent EAPs, and that loss of EAP access is growing since 1985. And with it opportunities to reduce workers' compensation costs are also being thrown out with the bath water.

We know EAPs can save money, but we also know they have been run over by a Mack Truck in the past 20 years and replaced almost universally with diminished service models that everyone knows will not penetrate and proactively pursue reaching these at-risk workers. Other employees nationwide face the same  circumstances. Want to save money? Don't fix what ain't broke. Stop the hand-wringing--EAPs are right in front of you.

Just sayin'!