Red Flags/Green Lights: A Guide to Identifying and Solving Return-to-Work Problems

Cover of Red Flags and Green Lights guide, using red and green to highlight the type
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Published: January 2009

Most injured workers return to their jobs successfully. For a few, however, problems may arise that complicate their recovery and return to work. This guide, based on Institute for Work & Health (IWH) research, is designed for such situations. It presents warning signs (red flags) and helpful practices (green lights) in four return-to-work contexts: work, health care, vocational rehabilitation and claims. It also includes at-a-glance cards summarizing the red and green flags in each of the four contexts.

Who should use the guide

Anyone who plays a role in the return to work of injured workers – in workplaces, workers’ compensation boards, clinical and rehabilitation settings, and legal and advocacy groups – will find this guide helpful. They can look to the red flags in the guide to recognize warning signs of problems, identify issues that can escalate, and consider possible explanations for delayed work returns. They can look to the green lights for helpful approaches and potential solutions.