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Work Hardening Program

Work hardening programs help workers restore function so that they can successfully return to work.

The basics about work hardening in Washington State

Work hardening programs or services are:

  • Made up of real or simulated work tasks, conditioning exercises, and education used to restore physical, behavioral, and vocational functions.
  • Highly structured, multidisciplinary, and individualized for each worker.
  • Delivered in a 4-week program that begins at 4 hours a day and progresses up to 8 hours 3-5 times per week.
  • Delivered only by approved providers.

More detail is available under work hardening programs standards.

Getting approval

The work hardening program requires:

  • Referral from the worker's attending provider and
  • Prior authorization by the claim manager.

Extending the work hardening program

  • Program extensions beyond 4 weeks must be authorized in advance by the claim manager and are based on documentation of progress and the worker's ability to benefit from the program extension.

Questions regarding Washington State's L&I Work Hardening program?

Contact Sarah Martin, Therapy Services Coordinator, at or 360-902-4480.

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