It's often difficult for an injured worker to get back to work as quickly as t hey would like, as they wait for an injury to heal or for medical treatments to be completed. A new report from the Workers Compensation Research Institute says some injured workers are now finding their returns complicated further by the economic downturn.

Authors of the report studied problems workers in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are encountering as they try to return following a workplace accident or illness.

The report states that the economic slowdown has made it difficult for some companies to offer employees who've been on workers' comp light duties or modified jobs in order to ease their transition back to work.

Some employers are also reporting that they're unable to provide permanent jobs to workers who would return with restrictions on their activities.

The study's authors stated that the workers' compensation system should have strong incentives for both the employer and the employee to enable workers to return to their duties. It said the incentives would help employers to enable the return of workers who have permanent restrictions and would also help those workers accept legitimate offers of modified jobs and duties.

The report also said policymakers need to look at the problems workers with permanent restrictions face and address some of the ways employees might be able to transition to work with a different employer, including such areas as lump sum settlements with the pre-injury employer, vocational rehab and job training benefits.

For employees who've been injured on the job, there are many areas of immediate concern. Perhaps the most immediate is to make sure they qualify for the workers' compensation benefits they need and deserve.

Source: Insurance Journal: "In Slow Economy, Injured Workers May Find It Harder to Return to Work," Dec. 2, 2011