The health benefits of good work

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians Position Statement on realising the health benefits of work highlights that being off work for long periods of time can significantly reduce the likelihood of a worker ever returning to work. Work plays an important role in any rehabilitation process because 'doing' promotes recovery.

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The Royal Australasian College of Physicians Position Statement on realising the health benefits of work highlights that being off work for long periods of time can significantly reduce the likelihood of a worker ever returning to work.

If a person is off work for 20 days the chance of ever getting back to work is 70 per cent. For 45 days it's 50 per cent and 70 days off work it's 35 per cent chance. Workplace injuries can have a negative impact on the worker, their family and society.

In Queensland each year there are around 90,000 workers' compensation claims, 70 work related fatalities and over 25,000 serious injuries and diseases that result in permanent impairment or require more than seven days off work.

All of these are estimated to cost the Queensland economy $12.3 billion annually. So a focus on capacity to support early and safe return to work is vital.

The evidence is compelling. For the individual, the business and our society good work improves general health and wellbeing and reduces psychological distress. We need to support people to recover at work after injury and chronic disease.

Fortunately, we are doing some things right. Workers' compensation claim lodgements peaked in 2011 and '12 at over 105,000 claims. In 2014-15 the number was down to 88,000.

What we are doing is getting our patients participating in recover at work and committed to rehabilitation so they can return to work quickly and safely, can experience less disruption to family, work and social life, can improve their employment and financial security, spend less time recovering from their injury and have a reduced level of impairment.

Work plays an important role in any rehabilitation process because 'doing' promotes recovery.

This model outlines how personal and work related factors influence worker health and wellbeing and the overall performance of the business. Work is good for health and business however not all work is good. Butterworth and colleagues for example showed the risk of poor work design. It can be as bad as and maybe even worse than the impact of unemployment. The adversities surveyed were low control, high demand, insecurity and low job esteem.

The reality is the true prevalence of such workplaces in Queensland is actually unknown. Simply put we need good work for good health, work that is safe, healthy with an engaged and productive workforce that makes a positive contribution to the health and wellbeing of the worker and those affected by the worker.

Early return to work facilitates shorter recovery time and prevents disability and provides the health benefits of work.

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Last updated
10 November 2016