How to make a real difference after a psychological injury
- Intervene early and where possible, support recovery at work by checking in with your worker regarding their wellbeing.
- When planning return to work after a psychological injury, address the factors that caused the injury before your worker returns – just as you do for a physical injury.
- Seek input from the treating health providers when you develop suitable duties plans to prevent the risk of re-injury.
- Be aware of the indicators of potential distress including physical, emotional, cognitive, behavioural and within the business (as outlined in the Mentally Healthy Workplaces Toolkit (PDF, 11.45 MB)).
Why this is important
Workers recovering from a psychological injury are more likely to be away from work for longer. Claims data shows that over the past five years, 37.5 per cent of workers with a psychological injury were away from work for more than 130 days, compared to 10.5 per cent for all injuries. Psychological injuries also cost more, primarily due to weekly compensation paid while they are away from work.
The longer a worker is away, the less likely they are to return. The return-to-work rate for psychological injuries reduces significantly after three months: from 98.6 per cent at 6-10 days away from work, to 73.9 per cent for 131-260 days away from work.
You can make a real difference supporting recovery and return to work by implementing these best practices to help reduce an injured worker’s time away.
- Read our tips for maintaining open and regular communication with workers experiencing a psychological injury.
- Check out Griffith University’s recently released research to support workers’ psychological responses to injury and successful return to work.
- Safe Work Australia’s Work-related psychological health and safety guidance provides tips on how to intervene early and support recovery.
- Queensland introduced simplified workers’ compensation for first responders experiencing PTSD in 2021. Find out about the eligibility criteria and read the FAQs.
- Prioritise your own self-care and be aware of the symptoms of vicarious trauma.
- Watch Robyn Neilson’s Safety Advocate film – Her life in my hands – the Robyn Nielson story. Robyn was a first responder to her neighbour who had her arm caught in machinery on a remote cattle property. Her story is a poignant reminder of the importance of preparing for a workplace emergency and explores the impact a traumatic event can have on workers and first responders.
- Share contact details for the Workers' Psychological Support Service with workers experiencing a work-related psychological injury. This free and independent service is staffed by experienced social workers who provide support and guidance and connect workers with community services appropriate to their needs.