The Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine’s recent It Pays to Care policy paper looked at why better recovery and return to work outcomes are important and ways they may be achieved.
The report says employers can make a positive difference if they:
- build a workplace culture where workers are informed about workers’ compensation, assisted to make a claim if they are injured, and physically and psychologically supported throughout their recovery and return to work
- equip supervisors with skills to manage injury and return to work.
If you operate a small to medium-sized business, it’s important to prepare for an injury occurring. To help, here is a quick refresher on what you need to know.
Most importantly, your role is to support your worker to make an early return to safe work.
- Contact the worker as soon as possible after their injury about support you can offer and take time to understand how the injury affects them.
- Report injuries to insurers immediately (within eight days) and start the claim process. Investigate the injury and the circumstances to prevent further injury.
- Provide workers with safe work duties as soon as it’s safe to do after an injury.
- Offer flexible working arrangements or suitable duties to help the worker’s return and talk to WorkCover Queensland about accommodations for your worker to recover at work.
- Monitor worker recovery and update suitable duties and have rehab and return to work policies and procedures made known to workers.
- Ensure information about rehabilitation or a compensation claim is confidential and separate from employment records. This information should only be used to support rehabilitation, and not be related to their employment (disciplinary action, or whether their employment should continue - you legally cannot use a work-related injury as a reason to dismiss within one year).
How to foster a positive injury management culture?
Share information about workers’ compensation and rehabilitation and return to work in an easy-to-understand, supportive way. Take a person-centred approach, placing the injured worker front and centre of their recovery and return to work using the following tips.
- Talk with the worker to understand their experience, preferences and views. Plan the work to define and agree on goals and how you’ll reach them.
- Focus on the worker’s strengths, abilities and skills, making accommodations to support them to return to safe work earlier. Find solutions that balance what is important to the workplace and to the injured worker.
- Act on agreed plans and actions, tracking progress and giving updates when needed.
- Use clear and agreed communication strategies and timeframes.
- Involve family and treatment providers in the worker’s recovery.
Equip you and your supervisors with the right skills.
- Employ or engage a rehabilitation and return to work coordinator or for smaller businesses ensure that supervisors or a designated staff member are skilled and trained to support injured workers and can ensure the following practices.
- Maintaining contact with the injured worker throughout their recovery, to provide support and encourage their early, safe return to work.
- Working with the injured worker to develop a suitable duties program that works for their individual situation and needs.
- Ensuring the injured worker’s tasks are within the limits set out by their doctor.
- Regularly providing updates to the insurer.
Please note, large employers and those in high-risk industries must appoint a RRTWC. Speak to your insurer if you’re unsure if this applies to you.
- Engage an allied health professional to perform a job task analysis at your workplace. This is a document identifying all jobs and tasks available, so you can quickly identify those suitable for the injured worker. Download a job task analysis template (DOC, 0.05 MB).
- Ensure your workplace has up-to-date rehabilitation and return to work policies and procedure. Download a workplace rehabilitation policies and procedures template (PDF, 0.26 MB).
- Understand how to create a suitable duties program.