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Why return to work matters

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Getting back to work after a work-related injury is an important step in a person’s recovery, and research shows that the sooner that step can be taken safely, the better.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians released a position statement on realising the health benefits of work that indicates that work is generally good for health and wellbeing, and long term work absence, work disability and unemployment can have a negative impact on health and wellbeing.

Getting back to work means workers can return to a normal life with less disruption to family, work and social life and improved employment and financial security.

The research also shows that workers who get back to safe work as soon as possible recover more quickly than those who wait until they are fully recovered.

WorkCover Queensland Executive Professional Services Matthew Bannan said he has seen this work in practice in his own claims management experience.

“Seeing a worker return to their job is really rewarding. Workers often talk about how getting back to their normal lives restores their confidence and their positive outlook,” Matthew said.

“We have an opportunity to empower workers and work with them to find a safe pathway back to work, which in turn has an incredible impact on the worker’s morale and the overall workplace culture.

“Feeling welcomed back can be really powerful.”

Planning a safe return to work should always be a collaboration between the worker, their employer, their treating medical and allied health practitioners and their WorkCover customer advisor, to identify suitable duties and any required modifications to their work.

“One of the key things to remember when planning a return to work is to focus on what the worker can do, not what they can’t do,” Matthew said.

“The Work capacity certificate can be completed by doctors in communication with a worker and their employer to determine what a worker can do when they return to their job.”

“Taking a positive approach and working together will help achieve more sustainable return to work outcomes,” Matthew said.

There are a range of other resources for employers, workers and health professionals to assist them in supporting positive return to work outcomes, including:

Last updated
11 January 2019