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ON - Communicating - young and injured, seriously

The Office of Industrial Relations and All Trades Queensland present a free one hour webinar to help return to work coordinators understand the importance of communicating differently with younger workers to help prevent and recover from workplace incidents.

The session covers:

  • signs that your communications strategies are not working
  • overcoming communication barriers with younger workers
  • how to have meaningful conversations with a young injured worker with a physical and/or psychological injury
  • strategies to use when communicating with younger workers
  • perspectives from a young injured worker on:
    • an employer’s role
    • an injured worker’s role
    • overall expectations.

Download a copy of this film (ZIP/MP 7MB)

  • Read transcript
    • Communicating – young and seriously injured . . .
      On Series – Office of Industrial Relations
      By Craig Gilvarry, Workplace Health and Safety Manager and and Natalie Klaassen, RRTWC, All Trades Queensland

      Facilitator:
      Hi everyone. Welcome to today's On Series session titled 'Communicating – young and seriously injured…' The topic and expert speaker is brought to you by the Office of Industrial Relations. We're committed to driving initiatives across the whole scheme that improves safety, wellbeing and return to work outcomes for both employers and workers.

      My name's Allicia Bailey. I'm the Manager of Engagement Services with OIR and I'm your Facilitator for today. Today's session will go for approximately one hour and we will email participants a copy of the presentation following today's session.

      I'm really pleased to announce that we have both Craig who is a Workplace Health and Safety Manager and Natalie who is the Rehabilitation and Return to Work Coordinator from All Trades presenting today. So we'll get straight into it and I'll hand you over to Craig.

      Craig Gilvarry:
      Thanks Allicia. As the Work Health Safety Manager for All Trades Queensland one of the key components of my role is to oversee the return to work process. Natalie Klaassen our Return to Work Coordinator who is also here handles our return to work processes and communicates with the injured workers throughout the claim. Today Natalie and I are going to discuss with you some of the communication techniques we use on a daily basis to manage our claims and then share with you one of our return to work success stories.

      Before we get into that I just wanted to let you know a little bit of the background of All Trades Queensland. All Trades Queensland is the largest group training organisation in Queensland and employs about - between 1,000 and 1,200 apprentices and trainees working on up to 800 different sites across south east Queensland. Currently we have apprentices working in 54 different trades with the vast majority employed in the construction and manufacturing trades such as carpentry, electrical and plumbing.

      The demographic of our workforce is approximately 95% males in the 17 to 24 year age group. The young male workforce is one of the highest risk work groups you can find you'll possibly employ in the workplace. Young males are natural risk takers and often have poor attitudes to workplace safety and their general health. They are also a high risk demographic for suicides as well.

      The safety programs in place at All Trades Queensland are focused on safe behaviours and we regularly use the resources provided by WorkCover and Work Health Safety Queensland. ATQ recently reviewed our Safety Strategy and incorporated a wellbeing program to focus on lifestyle issues within our workforce. Some of the initiatives we are running include quit smoking and mental health awareness. As a part of the review we rebranded our safety and wellbeing program under the one banner and called it Work Safe - Live Well.

      The types of injuries we see on our apprentices are indicative of the physical nature of the construction and manufacturing industries. While the majority of our injuries are simple lacerations and sprains caused by poor techniques we do unfortunately have some more serious injuries as well. These are more often the motor vehicle accidents and musculoskeletal injuries to backs and shoulders. It's these serious injuries that are more likely to have the psychological injuries attached to them.

      Not every injury we encounter has the potential to develop into a psych injury. As a part of our normal claims management process we make a basic judgement whether we think a person or their injury would put them into a high risk of a psych injury. The process of identifying an injury or a person that has the potential to develop into an associated psych injury is very subjective. Some of the factors that can sway the decision include the individual's emotional state - we may see them being very emotive during our incident investigation process - or generally their attitude to injury, if it's 'Mate, it's just a flesh wound' sort of moment.

      Natalie would you like to pass on some of the signs you would look for when determining if a worker needs additional support in this area?

      Natalie Klaassen:
      I guess a couple of the most obvious signs I've come across throughout the years is when communication between myself and the injured worker suddenly changes, whether it be they just stop answering or returning my calls or change the way they interact with me in person or over the phone. I've seen happy, easy going employees become withdrawn and even quite aggressive in their approach to me which immediately alarms me.

      Craig Gilvarry:
      Thanks Nat. In most cases we find the initial injury does not instantly lead to the psych injury unless it's a particularly traumatic event like an amputation or a serious motor vehicle accident. The majority of the psych injuries we encounter tend to develop and intensify over a period of time. If you're seeing a warning sign that a person falls into a high risk group it's best to enlist the assistance of a qualified therapist rather than make that decision yourself. We regularly use occupational therapists at ATQ to help us with our return to work plans and assessments. This is useful if you're unsure of how to manage a particular worker's injury, whether it be a psychological or a physical injury. Search around because not all OTs have the skillsets to manage a psych claim as well.

      For the more traumatic accidents we see we're generally expecting to see problems early and they develop early because of the nature of the injury. So we're pretty quick to put mechanisms in place in the first couple of days and often while the injured worker is still in hospital. For the psych injuries that develop over a longer period of time you need to be more observant and look for the subtle warning signs that will appear during the claim. Some of the subtle warning signs you may see developing for a psych injury include a behaviour change over a period of time. This warning sign is only useful if you've had dealings with the person across the entire claim period. As Natalie is our primary point of contact for the worker, Natalie's able to detect these changes quite quickly.

      Natalie makes contact in the first couple of days of an injury claim and she's able to get a benchmark for behaviours early. We also are lucky to have the relationship between our field staff who manage the apprentices on a daily basis when they're on the job site as a good baseline for changes in behaviours as well. ATQ also keep records of interaction with our staff so it's possible to record and track behaviours if required.

      Our second warning sign is a resistance to return to work. Some workers with a psych injury will show a resistance to return to work as a condition that develops slowly when it comes time for suitable duties. While an injured worker should use the time given by the doctor to recover there's a difference between enjoying a break and a genuine fear of the workplace.

      The third warning sign we have is the worker favouring an injury. When we meet with a worker to check on their recovery we may see a subtle favouring or cradling of the injury. This could be a worker who cradles their arm after an injury or puts their hand on their back every time they rise from a chair. This sign can be more of a habit that is formed and have a tendency to play on the worker's mind during the recovery period.

      The fourth warning sign we see is a withdrawal from life. Sometimes a worker starts to become reclusive. When you invite them in for a meeting to check on their progress they'll show a reluctance to attend irrespective of the venue. To truly test this one may require a discussion with family. Remember if this is occurring you need to ensure the family and the friends are providing a support network behind the scenes.

      The last warning sign you may see is an aggression over simple tasks. While we don't see this reaction very often it can be a normal defence mechanism for some people. This reaction may occur when it comes time for suitable duties to start and the worker has been away from the workplace for some time. We still need to be firm when managing suitable duties but also observe the behaviour issues.

      Nat can you add some examples where you've seen some of these changes in your time?

      Natalie Klaassen:
      Sure. As I said earlier Craig in regards to the change of communication between myself and the injured worker, if I notice a change in the way they speak to me, I do see most changes occur around the discussion of commencement of suitable duties. When it's time to sit and discuss suitable duty plans and their restrictions with the injured workers, sometimes barriers go up and pain can sometimes seem worse to the injured worker. I find they are thinking I'm being mean or punishing them in some way by trying to get them back to work but in fact I'm only trying to help with their rehabilitation and wellbeing, both physically and emotionally. We all know the benefits and positive effects of returning back to work.

      Through constant interaction throughout the claim with the injured worker, the OT or claims manager at WorkCover you can read when it's not so much the pain stopping them from returning to work but the fear itself of having to go and interact in the workplace with other co-workers and get back out into an environment that now seems so scary to them.

      Craig Gilvarry:
      When it comes to communicating with an injured worker or anyone in the workplace there are a few useful tips to remember. Be respectful and use appropriate language. Don't just let your agenda be the only conversation. Listen to the worker and also use open questions to ensure better communication is happening. To ensure the process gets off on the right foot make sure you're communicating with the injured worker as soon as possible after the injury. By building that early communication pattern the worker will know what to expect when you call.

      Also try and set up a regular contact schedule, be it weekly or fortnightly and keep a record of the communication. The contact with them can be a simple 'Hello. How's the treatment progressing?' or a reminder to let them know they have a review coming up. Always show empathy for the worker's condition as it may save a potential Common Law claim later on. Behind many Common Law claims is a disgruntled employee who felt the company let them down while they were injured unfortunately. But importantly make sure a return to work is discussed as early as possible. This early discussion can prevent a shock later on when the doctor clears them for suitable duties.

      Nat can you let everyone know how you manage your communication with our injured workers?

      Natalie Klaassen:
      I guess just constant interaction. Depending on each individual case, it does vary just how often I do call or make visits for face to face chats. But I do try and have some sort of communication with every injured worker at least every fortnight, even just a quick email every now and then to touch base I notice has been quite effective for me. It shows the injured worker that they haven't been forgotten and we still value them as a respected employee.

      I also make calendar reminders of upcoming reviews so I can make sure to call them the day of or the following day after their review not only to check up on their wellbeing but for updated information and their medical certificates. There have been certain cases I know I'll receive a call from the injured worker himself after seeing his specialist or GP or physio and give me updates and will automatically send through information without me even having to prompt or remind them. This all comes down to the relationship I do try and build up with all our injured workers.

      Craig Gilvarry:
      Thanks Nat.

      When it comes to keeping the lines of communication open with the injured worker most of the work will have to be from the Return to Work Coordinator and not the worker them self. Some of the more common challenges we have with our workers include actually making contact with them. Some of our workers may choose to filter their calls or not reply to messages. This can be really challenging because you have to remember to follow up with them. In extreme cases we have used the threat of claim suspension to get them talking again. It's not always ideal though.

      The type of injury and recovery period that the worker is experiencing can also be a barrier to communication. Sometimes when a worker is off work for a substantial period of time they run the risk of slipping through the cracks and getting forgotten. Make sure you use some of the technology tools we have to set up reminders to call them. That lack of contact may make a worker feel more isolated than a worker with regular contact and therefore potentially increase the risk of a psych injury occurring.

      Also you need to be mindful of the worker's attitude to WorkCover. Depending on the nature of the accident some workers will have a degree of animosity towards the company following an injury particularly if they feel the company caused the injury. Others may feel that WorkCover is there to be used and don't understand the real expense associated with claims. Some workers also struggle with the thought of any work following an accident and may feel as though they are a burden to others which challenges their self-worth. This decrease in self-worth may affect their attitude and engagement with work and possibly lead to a depressed state of mind.

      Looking away from the injured worker for a moment we also need to be mindful that any changes to internal return to work staff can be a potential increase in an issue as well. If there is any staffing changes in the management of a worker internally we need to ensure the worker doesn't get missed. If there are any staff changes please make sure you have an effective handover process in place.

      When we are managing a worker who has a psych injury or there's a high potential psych injury there are a few things we need to be mindful of. Make sure you show empathy to the worker and their condition. Unless you've walked a mile in their shoes you probably won't understand their position. So be reasonable and understanding at all times. When you're conversing with them ensure you look at your words and actions from their perspective. If there's a chance that something you could have said may be misinterpreted it may happen. Just ensure your message is nice and clear. Ensure your language is respectful and appropriate to the worker as well. Make sure you always keep your eye on the goal throughout the process, that is getting the worker back to work and mitigating the damage from Common Law claims as well.

      Make sure you have a discussion with the worker if there's going to be any physical limitations that may stop them returning to their job. If the injury was an amputation or similar will it be possible for them to continue in that job?

      An important note to make as you go through the process is to make sure you know your limitations. If at any time you feel like you aren't sure, you're able to manage or provide the appropriate advice, engage an occupational therapist who knows how to manage a psych claim.

      These tools and techniques that we've mentioned in the past few minutes is not a complete list of tools to manage a psych claim but it's just more to share with you what's worked for All Trades Queensland.

      Natalie is just going to take you through one of our rehabilitation success stories next. In the case study a worker suffered a traumatic event on their way to work in 2011 but with some determined work by Natalie and the injured worker he was able to return to work in another role and finish his apprenticeship in 2015. Over to you Nat.

      Natalie Klaassen:
      Thanks Craig. I'm going to talk briefly on just one of our successful and definitely rewarding long-term WorkCover claims. On the 23rd of March 2011 a 19 year old worker I'm going to call Joe was only in the second week of his apprenticeship in engineering when he was hit by a vehicle on a pedestrian crossing on his way to work. Joe suffered horrific injuries including a fractured skull, bleeding on the brain, facial fractures and a cracked sternum. Because of these serious injuries he was placed in an induced coma.

      Joe had only just left his family in Bundaberg to start this job and we knew it would be tough to manage knowing he was all alone here in Brisbane in such a bad state. ATQ notified his family immediately and organised some accommodation for them while he was in hospital. Within a couple of days Joe had come out of his coma which was a big relief to everyone and a couple of weeks later he was back at home with his parents.

      A few weeks had passed before he started his rehabilitation process seeing physios, neurosurgeons and orthopaedic surgeons just to name a few. Joe was given permission to drive a car again about four months after the accident and we used an occupational therapist to arrange a workplace assessment and a suitable duties plan in a host workshop. His initial suitable duties was just four hours a day. During the suitable duties plan I phoned Joe quite often and his field officer made regular visits to make sure everything was progressing well. During those early times I felt Joe looked at me for that emotional support and especially now he was living away from his family again.

      Joe's claim actually came to a close on 25th of July 2011 when he received a fit to return medical certificate from his doctor. Unfortunately though within a couple of weeks Joe phoned me saying he wasn't coping well in a mental way and he was getting a lot of pain in behind his eyes as well as a slight hearing loss and would become dizzy on occasions when he had his head down at a machine. In some conversations with both Joe and his father we also noticed he was becoming quite forgetful.

      To deal with this an adjustment to injury counselling session was arranged through WorkCover Queensland and his claim was reopened for further medical treatment and counselling. After discussions with Joe it was decided to change over trades and he commenced as a heavy vehicle mechanic apprenticeship.

      Joe remained on suitable duties as his left knee that was fractured at the time of the accident was still causing him a lot of grief. Joe would often call me and break down over the phone saying he wasn't coping and once he admitted to punching a brick wall out of frustration. At this stage of the process we'd talk at least twice a week just to check on his welfare. There were many days over the next few months Joe would often call into the office just for a chat and someone to talk to. I was happy that he could feel comfortable enough to come and look at me seeking support and guidance.

      Over the next few months Joe almost seemed back to his normal happy self until in June 2012 unfortunately he witnessed a young female pedestrian get hit by a bus and this of course brought back some horrible memories. It was a bit of a setback over the next couple of weeks but within the right support from his network he got through it.

      Allicia Bailey:
      Nat can I just ask you who was in the support network that you just mentioned?

      Natalie Klaassen:
      Mainly his family and friends but also WorkCover and myself supported him through the tough times.

      It was decided a couple of months later in August 2012 due to Joe struggling in the physical elements of the job to change trades once again from heavy vehicle mechanic over to light vehicle mechanic. Joe continued with his suitable duties both in the workplace and that college up to where he was finally fit to return to full duties in April 2013. I continued to have contact with Joe every now and then just for a quick chat and when visiting the office for different reasons he'd always make the effort of coming up and saying 'hello' as we had built up such a great bond over time.

      The most rewarding day of my working career to date I would have to say though was on the 11th of September 2015, the day Joe phoned me to say he'd completed his apprenticeship. He was over the moon with excitement and so was I, something I'll always think about and talk about with not only my peers but close friends and family as it just made me so much more aware of just how important my role here at All Trades Queensland is and that I had such an impact on this person's life.

      Craig Gilvarry:
      Thanks Nat. From the tips we discussed earlier in the webinar how much of it did you use in managing Joe's claim?

      Natalie Klaassen:
      Mostly the communication and support mechanisms that we discussed earlier.

      Craig Gilvarry:
      How is Joe going these days? How is he progressing?

      Natalie Klaassen:
      I actually called him a few weeks ago Craig just to let him know that we were doing this webinar and discussing his case. He said he's still working for his old host employer as a qualified tradesman and moving on with his life which is good.

      Craig Gilvarry:
      Awesome. Thanks Nat.

      So that's the end of our presentation on how to communicate with young workers who are at risk of a psychological injury. Some of the key take aways I'd like to revisit include make sure your company develops good communication protocols with your injured workers and on a personal level, be observant when monitoring your worker for changes in behaviour through the rehabilitation period. Ensure you engage with the injured worker in an empathetic manner. Also make sure you take advantage of some of the resources available on the WorkSafe Queensland website for managing young workers. They have some great tools that are there and you should be able to utilise in your workplace as well.

      Thank you.

      Allicia Bailey:
      Okay. Thank you Craig and Nat. Guys this is when we typically hand over to you and the best part of doing these sessions live is that you have the ability to ask Craig and Natalie any questions that you may have. So feel free to type those questions in the right hand side of your screen in the little Q&A box and we can start to field those through.

      So just while I give you a few minutes to do that I'll take the opportunity to plug our Queensland Safe Work and Return to Work awards which are open for nominations and the nominations close 5:00pm next Thursday the 24th of June. So you can nominate an individual or an organisation for one of the eight safe work categories or one of the five return to work categories. So if you're interested in nominating jump onto worksafe.qld.gov.au and make sure you do that by next Friday as that is the closing date for nominations for this year's awards.

      I'll just let you know as well our next On Series session is on 'Suitably speaking'. So we are pleased to have All Trades come back again. They're going to team up with us and share their knowledge on real life experience in getting a worker with a psych injury back to work. So you can see on the screen there there's a few dot points that we'll cover and psych injuries is probably one of the biggest and hottest topics that we have within this arena. So make sure that you jump on to the WorkSafe website and register for that as well.

      Now we do have a few questions come through. So we might just quickly try to get to those. So Craig and Nat we've just had a participant say:

      Q: 'Who do you include in your return to work communication and do you have a contact at the associated TAFE that you could recommend to our participants?'
      Craig Gilvarry:
      I suppose that's two parts to that question. 'Who do you include in the return to work communication?' Making sure obviously we've got the worker involved, that's key. Depending on the workplace they're going to be sent back to. So if it's a host employer or we're bringing them into the office ourselves depending on which one we go to. If it's the host obviously we'll chase the host down and make sure they're comfortable. More around the physical limitations. We're not going to send the kid out to a broken residential building site and who's got a sprained ankle or something like that. We've got to make sure it's going to be fit for purpose.

      Contacting the TAFE, we actually have a couple of ladies employed at All Trades who manage all our TAFE bookings. So we make contact with them and say 'We've got person X.' Do they have a theory session available or a prac session within their limitations. Then we have to provide them a copy of a med cert etc before we can send them off.

      Nat do you want to add anything onto that? No?

      Natalie Klaassen:
      No. It's all good.

      Craig Gilvarry:
      It's all good? Okay.

      Allicia Bailey:
      Excellent. Thanks Craig.

      Q: Based on your experience do you guys find at All Trades Queensland that the work ethic is any different in younger employees versus older employees and does this present any barriers to rehab because I know the predominant workforce is quite young with you guys. So what would you say based on your experience?
      Craig Gilvarry:
      I might field that one again Nat if you want. Yeah definitely a big difference between younger and older workers. I like to think of it as a younger worker say 18 to 20 depending on sometimes some of the – it's a pretty rich tapestry this one. Depending on some of their upbringing can also be involved and it's whether or not they've developed a habit of work.

      Someone who's 40 years old who gets injured knows they've got to get back to work. Whereas someone who's young and they have a couple of weeks or months off work, depending on how hard their rehabilitation was it may have just been a bit of an extended sort of holiday moment and the whole process of getting back to work, they haven't developed a habit. So it's just like 'This is just cushy. I'm still getting paid' sort of thing. So yeah there is a bit of a challenge around that area. Yeah definitely.

      Allicia Bailey:
      Q:'When you have those particular scenarios where the workers are having you know, considering the time off work as a bit of a holiday, what's your strategy in making sure that you sort of break that perception and you know, get them back in line with your goal which is to get them back to work?
      Is that something that you just reinforce regularly or do you have a formal process with making sure that that expectation is set up from the forefront once you've notified that they have had an injury?'
      Craig Gilvarry:
      Well we even go all the way back to inductions. We make sure we mention if you do get injured return to work is what we do. Don't see it as a bad thing. It's just we're getting you back to work. It's a good thing. Then when it comes to an actual injury occurring Nat's pretty quick to jump on them and say 'Well hey, as soon as you're ready for suitable duties' or we'll say 'Look we've got some suitable duties. Go back to the doc and make sure you get your med cert changed to suit what we've got for you.'

      Allicia Bailey:
      Nat I might pitch this one at you I guess.

      Q:'Throughout your case study and throughout the presentation the high level of engagement that you do as standard practice is obviously so fundamental in the outcome that you've been able to achieve particularly for something as traumatic as this poor young guy's case. When you do your communication do you actually get the line manager or senior management involved in those communications?'
      Natalie Klaassen:
      Yeah definitely. All higher management's involved in any serious injury that we have in the workplace. I always contact Craig and Craig helps me with all the serious injuries. Also it has a lot to do with I guess my relationship with WorkCover Queensland too because they're always on board with me as well. So we have good communication with the kids. So it's sort of a three-way thing as well.

      Allicia Bailey:
      Thank you for that strategy and you guys mentioned throughout the presentation that particularly with this cohort of workers you can experience some trouble with them actually filtering your calls and emails and there being a lack of response which I'm sure we've all probably experienced with some cases of rehab and return to work.

      Q: 'So do you have any tips on how you actually maintain the rapport throughout this process particularly if they are being a little bit obstructive? If they're not returning your calls is there another avenue that you can suggest that people could possibly try?'
      Natalie Klaassen:
      I just try on a daily basis and send text messages as well or emails. If I need to contact the field officer to get the field officer to go out maybe and have a visit at his place, we can do that because they do get a bit depressed when they're sitting at home. They know probably that I am chasing them to return to work on some form of suitable duties. So yeah it can get tough. But yeah there are quite a few avenues that we do try and eventually they do call.

      Allicia Bailey:
      That's good to know. Persistence is key my friend.

      Q: 'Within All Trades Queensland do you have a recover at work as well as a return to work program?'
      Craig Gilvarry:
      Yeah, absolutely. I'll give you an example. I've got a young fella at the moment who's gone through quite a traumatic experience. He had an amputation of a number of fingers and he's got quite a fear of going back near a work site. So I've basically got him coming into the office. I got him doing some light duties. Sometimes he's doing scanning or the next day he could be down in the workshop helping, I don't know, just clean up some mess down there or just doing some light duties. It's really a case of just trying to bring them back in nice and gradually because I know there is an associated psych injury with that one because of his traumatic experience.

      But yeah, where possible we try and get them doing some light duties around the office and sometimes it's being a little bit mean and getting them doing things like washing cars and stuff that's quite boring. They go 'Can I just go back to work?' 'Yeah sure. Go and get your medical certificate changed and we'll get you back to work.' So it sort of breaks a bit of the habit there as well.

      Allicia Bailey:
      That's a good tip and you guys have obviously experienced situations where an injured worker's I guess motivation to actually participate in suitable duties may decline and they may become a little bit resistant.

      Q: 'Do you have any strategy to help sort of keep their motivation high, keep them engaged and how do you actually let them know that participating in suitable duties is better for their recovery? What type of messages do you give them to make sure that that's the ultimate goal I guess, because we know recovery at work is better for their overall rehab?'
      Natalie Klaassen:
      Yeah. I guess just because I try and talk to them in the beginning of their claim they're sort of aware of it straight up. So I sort of keep reminding them each time they go to the doctor you know, if there is any type of minimal duties that they can do, whether they can come into the office and just do basic office duties, I can get them in there. It's mainly just reminding them to get up every day and go to work and just get into that routine. It doesn't really matter what they're doing, whether it be completely different to their trade. It's just getting them in that routine again of having to get up, get dressed, go to work.

      So yeah, I just sort of have constant interaction with them trying to explain how important it is on their wellbeing really. But yeah, when they do decline sometimes we do have to push the fact that there is a plan and they do have to follow the guidelines and that their claim may be suspended if they don't follow the suitable duties plan. So sometimes it does get to the point where you have to be a little bit harder on them. But yeah, we do. Craig always helps me if there is any issues in that area.
       Craig Gilvarry:
      Most of them do the sort of tough love moment where they don't understand why you're doing it but in the end they do because they sit back and go 'Oh okay. That makes sense to me now.' But sometimes you do have to really be firm with them and say 'Look if you don't turn up in your uniform, if you don't turn up on time, well we'll look at your claim and see whether we should keep you on it.' So yeah it can be a bit of a tough love moment.

      Allicia Bailey:
      Yes. I think you guys are highlighting that there has to be a clear level of transparency amongst all stakeholders and that be the worker, that be yourself Nat as the Rehab Coordinator and Craig you too, as the Supervisor/Line Manager/Exec team rep. It's all having those parties come together and actually make sure that there's clarity and what's expected and also enough support to make sure that that outcome is actually achieved for that worker as well.

      Q: 'Do you find that having workers on suitable duties at your offices improve the overall outcomes for your claims?'
      Natalie Klaassen:
      I would say yes, especially in the employee you were talking about earlier Craig. He was really hesitant to come into our office. We really had to sort of push him to get him into the office. There was even days that he wouldn't show up. But within a couple of weeks we've seen a big improvement in his behaviour, a big improvement in the way he comes across, his confidence as a person I guess.

      So I think he can actually see the positive effects that we've actually tried to help him where at first he was a little bit hesitant and he was a little bit depressed about the whole issue of coming into the office. But we've noticed a huge improvement over the last two weeks and he's even admitted it to us as well. So he was happy that we had pushed him to come into the office to get out of bed to come in. Yeah just confidence reasons more than anything.

      Allicia Bailey:
      You guys are obviously very skilled and I guess well practiced in terms of monitoring your workforce and also making sure that you consistently review the health and wellbeing of your workforce whether it be a physical injury or a psych injury. I guess managing psych injuries is probably the hardest thing that many of us in this space actually deal with and that's why we're really trying to promote success stories like yourselves.

      Q: 'Based on whether it be this case study or another one that you guys have experienced within All Trades Queensland, have you actually experienced any resistance from younger people when you actually suggest the need for a psychological intervention or counselling?
      Or what is their general attitude and reaction if you actually start to use that language because it is quite confronting. It's probably the one thing that most of us are uncomfortable dealing with because it isn't tangible. So do you have any suggestions about how our participants might tackle those types of conversations?'
      Craig Gilvarry:
      To be honest I haven't seen too much resistance because most of the time when you get to that point they're either so down on them self and anybody who'll talk to them about it they tend to engage with you. It can be a case of just saying 'Mate are you struggling?', 'What's going wrong?', 'Is there something?' and you can try to pick their brain and try and work out what's happening.

      We also use our Employee Assistance Program a fair bit too for those – well we call that 'independent counselling' as well or sending them off to their GP for a psych program as well can be useful as well. But yeah we don't see too much sort of resistance to it. Most of them are pretty keen to sort of get their headspace better.

      Allicia Bailey:
      Okay thanks. It's good to know that I guess initiating these conversations hasn't always been a terrible experience which I think is some of the presumption that we think is going to happen just because we are a little bit unfamiliar with those conversations themselves. In terms of suitable duties we know getting back to work is better for them. We've said it a few times now.

      Q: 'Light duties and minimal duties - I guess what's the interaction between those terms and meaningful work? Do you consider light duties still being meaningful work?'
      Craig Gilvarry:
      I'll throw a bit in there. Look the difference between light duties and minimal duties and keeping it meaningful, look we always try and keep it meaningful but sometimes it's a case of it's the habit of work thing. I'll come back to that. Just to make sure they get out of bed on time, pack their lunch, turn up at work, all that sort of stuff.

      We often use - just down the road from where our office is at Shailer Park we use the Salvation Army have got a depot there. They're often crying out for just an extra set of hands. Depending on the injury of the person, what they work have there, I think actually the Salvos are in that RAW Program from memory too.

      So we'll often pop down there and see if Stu needs a helping hand for a few days. Nat will go down with the suitable duties plan and make sure it's all sort of fit for purpose and make sure that Stu understands the injuries that are involved and we let them go that way. If not, they're back in the office. We'll just try and keep them going in the right direction where possible.

      Allicia Bailey:
      Excellent. Well I think that's it guys. I think that’s the questions that we've had for today. So we have finished a bit early which is great.

      I just want to thank all the participants for engaging in today's session. Thank you for the questions as well. I think everyone's benefitted from pulling out those real life experiences from you both.

      We're really excited to have you guys back on the 19th of July. So everyone if you're interested, jump on the WorkSafe Queensland website and get involved in that session. We will be flicking you now through to a survey. It takes about two minutes. So if you have the time to tell us what you think and what you actually want in the future please complete that survey.

      Otherwise on behalf of All Trades Queensland and the Office of Industrial Relations thanks so much for participating and we'll talk to you next time.

      [End of Transcript]

Last updated
13 October 2016

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