Seven principles of effective injury management

Queensland’s average return to work rate after a workplace injury is impressive at over 90 per cent, but continuing to strive for a higher average stay at work rate (which was around 50 per cent in 2013–2014) could have positive outcomes for both workers and employers.

WorkCover Queensland Industry Manager Matthew Bannan said that a ‘stay at work’ outcome is when a worker stays and recovers at work after an injury, rather than taking time off.

“Obviously, depending on the severity of the injury, staying at work isn’t always possible, but wherever an injured worker can be given the opportunity to recover at work, we strongly advocate this,” Matthew said.

“Staying at work helps the injured worker remain connected to their co-workers, and minimises the negative impact an injury can have on their wellbeing and their family.

“This involves having an injury management strategy in place so that suitable duties are available to workers that allow them to stay at work safely without aggravating their injury.”

For an employer, having a higher stay at work rate can also translate into a lower WorkCover premium rate.

“When a worker takes time off work after an injury, they must be compensated for this time lost. This adds to the costs of the claim, which impacts on the business’ premium rate,” Matthew said.

In a recent WorkCover Queensland webinar, Yvonne Paye, Manager – Injury Management at Endeavour Foundation (who won the 2014 Return to Work Award in the large employer category), shared the following advice on how to improve injury management practices within an organisation.

1.     Plan

Develop a strategic injury management plan and communicate it at all levels of the business.

2.     Raise awareness at management level

Ensure all levels of management understand the importance of early return to work/stay at work outcomes and the benefits of this for both the injured worker and the business. Provide frontline managers with rehabilitation training and send injury notifications to all managers so that they are up-to-date on injuries happening in their areas.

3.     Ask for feedback

Incorporate a survey form with your OHS, rehabilitation and return to work documents to obtain feedback from injured staff members after their claim closes.

4.     Foster an early intervention culture

Foster and build a strong culture of early intervention, including injury reporting and management.

It helps to clarify procedures for early incident reporting and ensure that injury managers are first responding to an injured worker either by phone or in person.

5.     Communicate

Communication is crucial in effective injury management. Keep all relevant parties involved and part of the process. WorkCover has a communication guide to assist managers in their contact with injured workers.

6.     Think outside the box

Look outside the box for different ways to deliver and access injury management and OHS training.

Training is sometimes difficult to organise, due to time, budget and geographical constraints with managers often working in different regions. If this applies to your business, look at alternatives for training delivery methods, e.g. online/teleconference meetings. This may assist with capturing a wider audience.

7.     Find and support OHS and injury management champions within your business

Having a cohesive OHS and injury management team that are all on the same page and striving to meet the same goals makes it easier to gain organisational trust in what you are trying to achieve. Find ways to spread the word about the value and benefits of OHS and effective injury management across the business, and share safety resources and procedures.

There are a wide range of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland resources on the WorkSafe website, as well as WorkCover’s ‘If you are injured at work’ posters, which you can download and print to put up in your workplace.

Last updated
09 November 2015