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Overcoming return to work barriers

Best practice

Understanding and overcoming barriers which can prevent injured workers from being at work plays an important role in the success of return to work plans

Employers should promote the benefits of staying at or returning to work for mental and emotional wellbeing by maintaining regular contact with injured workers to help prevent concerns before they become barriers.

Why this is important

Returning to work sooner has better outcomes for the injured worker and the employer. By working to overcome barriers that create anxieties, concerns about not feeling ready, fear of reinjury or worry about their ability to complete tasks, injured workers are more likely to have a successful return to work as well as a positive recovery.

Remaining active, preventing deconditioning and staying engaged with the workplace and social interactions promotes recovery. Injured workers who are off work for 20 days have a 70% chance of returning to work and injured workers who are off work for 70 days have a 35% chance of returning to work.

Ensuring an injured worker can overcome barriers to their rehabilitation and return-to-work journey will create a safe, durable, flexible and collaborative process that helps them feel comfortable and confident.

Your toolkit

  • Read about overcoming challenges for tips on identifying and overcoming barriers and how to address and alleviate concerns.
  • Check out these success stories which can help when an injured worker is unable to return to their normal role.
  • Read the Employer Return to Work Guide (PDF, 0.06 MB) for a useful communication checklist to ensure everyone involved in the return to work/stay at work process is on the same page. This will ensure the injured worker, their supervisor and treating providers are all aware of and understand what is happening and when.
  • You may also find information on psychosocial factors useful, which is a combination of psychological and social factors that can impact on a person’s recovery.
  • In some instances, it may be beneficial to seek assistance from an external provider to understand the long term benefits of having good processes in place. The Australian Rehabilitation Providers Association has some valuable insights into the return on investment for workplace rehabilitation.
  • Check out the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland webinar discussing the health benefits of good work and suitable duties as well as information about supporting your injured worker.
  • Watch this video for tips on how to communicate with doctors about work capacity certificates.
  • There is also a wealth of information available via the RACP regarding The Health Benefits of Good Work. A quick snapshot is this video which highlights what an important role work plays in recovery from an injury.