Right off the bat we need to clarify that, while this story is about the IAIABC, Russians and recovery, there really is no collusion; except for a small group who traveled to the United States to share their story regarding Russia’s social welfare systems. It’s just that, in the media, you cannot write the word “Russian” these days without including the word “collusion.” I think it’s a new law or something.

Glad we cleared that up. Now that you’re here, let’s move on to the topic du’ jour.

The Spring Forum held by the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC), being held this week in San Diego, CA featured several representatives of the Russian Federation. The Disability Management and Return to Work Committee hosted one of them for a presentation on their progress in returning injured Russians to work. Andrei Derkach, Head of the Regional Offices of Khabarovsk for the Social Insurance Fund of the Russian Federation, outlined initial results of a new RTW program that was rolled out in his region. I will be the first to admit that I have some pre-conceived notions about how the Russian Federation may approach its injured workers. I also will be the first to admit that those notions were not supported by what I heard. 

The presentation outlined significant progress made in recent years engaging injured workers and getting them back on the job. Through effective intervention and state managed treatment, the Russians have seen the return rate for their injured workers grow to 93.7 in 2018. Injured workers were assessed for “motivation” regarding RTW and assigned a Rehabilitation Manager whose primary responsibility was to “coordinate a comprehensive rehabilitation process for victims of severe accidents [in the] workplace.” The Rehabilitation Manager’s specific functions included: 

  • Personal contact with insured victim and his/her relatives; 
  • Continual support to victim at all treatment stages; 
  • Setting rehabilitation plan together with the insured and doctor; 
  • Execution of medical treatment contracts; 
  • Registering main stages of rehabilitation process in manager’s log; 
  • Contacting employer re return to work:
    – to previous position,
    – to different position within enterprise,
    – search for suitable position,
    – re-skilling 

While the details were impressive, it was the comments made near the close of the session that really struck me as relevant. First, the final slide addressed what we here in the state would refer to as bio-psycho social issues. It listed: 

  1. Rehabilitation manager’s role 
  2. Family’s role 
  3. Role of socially active victims 

I must admit to being surprised at the length to which the Russians have gone in order to recognize and treat the “whole” injured worker; embracing those critical elements that have so much effect on the psychological make up and coping skills of the people they are treating. It appears that they are well advanced beyond our own system when it comes to this type of approach. 

A compatriot of Mr. Derkach told the audience during a Q&A that they have made great efforts to offer positive messaging and motivation for their injured workers. One of the things they do is bring Paralympic Athletes to their clinics to meet injured workers, in order to show them examples of people who have created rich and fulfilling lives despite significant impairment. 

I was both surprised and impressed by what they had to say. We could learn a thing or two from their approach. And that, I suppose, is a type of Russian collusion that we would actually benefit from. 

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