There is a new awards/recognition program I would like to announce. It has no winners yet, but it may in the foreseeable future. It will only run once, so it will be easier to manage than things like our annual Best Blogs competition. And it will be a literal game changer for the workers’ compensation industry. More on that in a moment.

Regular readers will be familiar with my call for the workers’ comp industry to be rebranded. For those not in the know, I believe that our current name, Workers’ Compensation, does not properly frame our responsibilities for the next century. Injured workers coming into the system, who have had to fill out a workers’ compensation notice of injury, who are assigned a workers’ compensation adjuster and are in many cases are sent to a workers’ compensation doctor, tend to focus on the compensation element of their injury. This is often to their own detriment. Likewise, the industry itself has developed a “process and close” mentality that tends to also ignore the importance of returning a person to a functioning contributory role in society.

As I’ve said now many times over the last 7 years, Workers’ Compensation should be called Workers’ Recovery. It would be a change that would have immediate cultural impact and help refocus both sides back to what is best for the injured worker.

The argument has been a long time in the making, but I sense it is starting to have some effect. One state I know of has adopted the “recovery” theme for its internal continuing training programs. Another I recently wrote about has adopted it for their Vocational Recovery Program, which is showing some very promising results. But it was conversations I had recently with two regulators that told me we might actually be gaining some ground on this. 

I was at WCI in Orlando last week, when I was approached by a state regulator whom I had not met before. He introduced himself, told me that he regularly reads this blog, and mentioned how he liked the Workers’ Recovery idea. He said he would like to see his state go in that direction. I was thrilled to hear that.

A day or so later, I was speaking with a regulator of another state who I have known for several years. The topic turned to Workers’ Recovery, and they indicated that, unlike many other jurisdictions, the title of their state program was not statutorily defined. They said that they were going to see what they could do to “make it happen” – to make the change to Workers’ Recovery in their state. 

It was music to my ears. 

I recognized early on that this would not be an easy effort. I’ve known all along that there will be obstacles and pitfalls to the change. As logical as the idea seems to me, I know that CAVE people everywhere (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) will be actively opposing the change. I’ve told people many times that I did not expect to see it in my lifetime. Yet this past week gave me a glimmer of hope that my expectations might be wrong. This idea just might come to life after all.

I’ve long said that we just need one state to make the change to Workers’ Recovery. Once that occurs, the idea will move from the limited scope of this blogs digital presence to the realm of public discourse, with broader media exposure and greater public awareness. It will take time, but with the effort of one visionary jurisdiction, like dominoes, the others will eventually follow. 

Therefore, I am pleased to announce the “Workers’ Recovery Regulator of the Century” Award. This prestigious honor will be presented to the first man or woman who successfully guides their state through this rebranding effort and changes their system from Workers’ Compensation to Workers’ Recovery. We will have a plaque made, and I’ll fly wherever I need to in order to present it. We’ll invite the Governor. They won’t come, but we’ll invite them anyway. We’ll take their picture. And we’ll have cake (have you seen me? Of course, there will be cake).

And I’ll let our honoree choose the flavor of the cake; even if they want, God forbid, German Chocolate.

The day is coming. I can sense it. It seems only appropriate that we be prepared to celebrate the brave and visionary soul who steps forth to make it a reality. 

Who will be declared the Workers’ Recovery Regulator of the Century?

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