An unlikely partnership expands modified duty and accelerates return to work.
The drivers at Transpro Burgener trucking have a very specific skill set: moving tons of aggregate, cement, coal and other materials to construction sites across Colorado and the Mountain West. And they’re good at it.
But when a driver gets hurt and can’t be in the cab, there’s not much else they can do. Recovery from the injury turns into a demoralizing waiting game as claims costs rise and the chances of returning to work shrink.
“There is a mental health component to an injury,” said Christine Brozek, Pinnacol return to work consultant. “It’s not always a physical thing you can see.”
So when Pinnacol Assurance’s Return to Work team contacted Transpro about a new program to ease injured truckers back into the workforce with local nonprofits, the company’s representatives were all ears.
A need in the community
Many nonprofits rely on volunteers to keep their operations humming, and the Loveland Habitat for Humanity ReStore is no different. The ReStore operates as a thrift store, with all profits going to Loveland Habitat for Humanity’s mission to build safe and affordable housing. As the ReStore runs on volunteer power, retaining reliable volunteers is important for maintaining daily operations.
“We do have a small group of regular volunteers, but the partnership we are establishing with Pinnacol and Transpro will allow us to have more consistency with our volunteer goals,” said Nicole Gallegos, Loveland Habitat ReStore director.
In a mutually beneficial scenario facilitated by Pinnacol, Transpro now sends its injured drivers to work at the Loveland Habitat ReStore and other Colorado nonprofits where light-duty tasks are plentiful. The drivers do work that complies with their doctors’ work restrictions while providing essential manpower to the nonprofits. Modified-duty tasks include sorting, sanitizing, label, folding clothes and assembling donations.
Even at the beginning when it’s only a few hours a week, injured drivers see tremendous benefits:
- A regained sense of purpose bringing value to their community.
- Opportunities to interact with others in a professional environment.
- The chance to test their bodies and provide feedback to their doctor.
- A return to the structure that regular work provides.
“I saw one of our drivers interacting with other people after months off the job,” said Dan Wheeler, director of safety and compliance at Transpro. “You could see the pride — his chest puffed up a bit.”
A partnership that pays
Transpro is seeing incredible results from the program. One driver was injured and unable to work for more than six months. In most cases, the driver would never work again. But between the Loveland Habitat ReStore and some modified duty at Transpro, he’s now back to driving the big rigs full time.
But it’s not just about the numbers, says Wheeler. “This program shows our employees that we care about them, even when they’re not at full productivity. We want to see them whole and healthy again.”
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