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Pinnacol’s one-of-a-kind volunteering program for injured workers surpasses 50K volunteer hours at local nonprofits

April 18, 2024
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Workers highlight ‘life-changing’ experiences; nonprofits benefit from growth in engaged volunteers 

DENVER April 18, 2024 — Colorado’s largest workers’ compensation insurer, Pinnacol Assurance, has an innovative “return to work” program that pairs injured workers with local nonprofits, allowing them “light duty” options that ease them back to work while they heal and support local causes.

Since Pinnacol launched the program three years ago, it has helped at least 170 injured workers return to work. These workers volunteered a total of 50,000 hours at 40 locations for local nonprofit organizations. 

Pinnacol return-to-work consultants partner with policyholders to identify modified-duty tasks, but in some cases, the policyholder doesn’t have appropriate work available on-site for the injured worker to do. This happens often in the transportation and construction industries, as the work is often labor intensive, with few light-duty options. 

Pinnacol partners with nonprofit organizations such as The ARC of Colorado, Food Bank for Larimer County, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Project Angel Heart and Eagle Valley Community Foundation. These nonprofits offer injured workers modified-duty assignments that are approved by their medical providers, and the workers are paid wages for their volunteer time.

Worker details life-changing experience 

Chuck Aranyos experienced an accident in his transportation job, severely injuring his shoulder and requiring surgery and rest from physical work. Pinnacol’s return-to-work consulting team paired him with the JeffCo Action Center, a food bank in Jefferson County. Aranyos volunteered there for eight weeks, performing various tasks throughout their organization, such as stuffing bags of food and supplies for those in need. 

“It was therapeutic for my soul,” Aranyos said of his experience at the Action Center. “Pinnacol and my doctors gave me therapy for my shoulder, but this [volunteer experience] was therapy for my soul. Getting back to work and into the Action Center kept me focused on what’s important, and I learned a valuable lesson about how people can learn to work together from all backgrounds.” He is still in touch with the people he volunteered with, even months after returning to work. 

Nonprofits see influx of engaged volunteers 

Monica Wilde, manager of volunteer programs and special events with Jeffco Action Center, shares that the Pinnacol Return to Work team was professional and detailed in connecting her organization with injured worker volunteers in what she described as “top-notch communication and collaboration.” She said, “This relationship has helped with our volunteer numbers. We are a volunteer-led organization that relies on 70-80 volunteers daily. Having an injured worker so many hours a week consistently for several weeks has taken pressure off when we have volunteers out. Each new worker brings a new perspective and different skill sets.”

Wilde remembers Aranyos as an essential part of their volunteer family who worked very hard and had a positive attitude. She also added that he made everybody laugh and played the harmonica for them. 

“This program highlights the power of Pinnacol’s partnerships and civic engagement in Colorado and enables our policyholders to also support their communities by encouraging their employees to volunteer while they heal and paying them wages,” said Nevine Laughlin, Pinnacol’s return-to-work director. 

Returning to work is important for injured employees 

Being active in productive work helps employees recover physically, emotionally and financially. The longer an injured worker is off work, the less likely they are to return to work; those who are off work for six months or more have only a 50% chance of returning to their job.

Learn more. 

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