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Ian Morrison, Tropical Reef Shipyard

Category four – Rehabilitation and return to work coordinator achievement award

Ian has provided education to management, supervisors and workers to encourage them to embrace a positive return to work culture. By capturing each and every incident that occurs at their facility and providing proactive treatment and role modification, workers have been more willing to notify about their injury or niggling discomfort, resulting in 100 percent return to work and no lost time injuries in over 527 days.

Ian Morrison, Tropical Reef Shipyard
Tropical Reef Shipyard employees

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Film – Tropical Reef Shipyard

On Screen Text

Ian Morrison – Return to Work Coordinator, Tropical Reef Shipyard

Tropical Reef Shipyard is the largest shipyard north of Sydney. We employ approximately 150 employees at any given time, plus we also employ sub-contractors and labour hire guys as projects ramp up and down. I think the key thing in helping guys change their attitude towards the return to work process is to involve them in every aspect of it, have an open communication with them and make sure that I communicate with them on a regular basis so we can keep up to date with any individual developments in their lives. We need to be able to build a relationship of trust with individuals so they can then know that you're actually out to look after their interests.

We set a few goals for them to achieve and some targets. Once they're met, we met with the guys and celebrated for it, so we held barbeques and parties when they reached the goals we set for them. So when you have a wife of a bloke come up to you and thank you as an individual for looking after the welfare of their husband, it really makes you feel pretty good, like, you know there's nothing more rewarding to me, then having someone come and do that.

That's a big incentive for me because when I see the positives in individual's lives, the role on effect in the family's lives, it's the motivation to carry on even when things do get a bit difficult because you feel like you're making a difference. Communication between all parties in the return to work process is the crucial thing here. You need to be able to communicate openly with the doctor as well as the worker and their supervisors, and also upper management and so involvement of each of those individuals in the process is an important aspect of getting an early return to work.

For other return to work coordinators, the best advice I can give them is to be actively involved in the return to work process and the treatment of the worker, communicate with the worker openly and honestly, talk with the doctor and work with the doctor and the worker to ensure that the outcome is positive. So the way we encourage workers to return back to work after their injury is we attend the doctor appointment with the injured worker so that the doctor understands what type of work we do, the roles that we have available for the return to work program as well as the suitable duties available. We also make sure that the worker understands that we are committed to looking after their welfare and we are not going to give them duties which is only going to further aggravate their situation so that we're all on the same page and work together for the same situation.

One of the strategies we use and what I think is very important in the return to work process is we believe in an early intervention, so even before a workers injured to the point where he needs to consult a doctor. We encourage the workers to come to their supervisor, identify times where they've got a small aggravation, which may increase if left unchecked so we modify their duties in the first instance, so that we give them time to heal and recuperate. Upper management in Tropical Reef are very supportive of the return to work process because they've see the benefits that come from the return to work process in the lowering of premiums, the increased productivity in the blokes who do the job from day to day.

I think the secret to success is to actually care about what happens to your workers, don't pretend. You've got to be real with people, people know when you're bluffing or just go through the motions of things. I'll go outside of work hours to touch base with them and make sure that they're okay, and I've offered to mow lawns for people if the worker is unable to get to work,

I'll drive to his home, pick him up and bring him to work, I'll arrange for him to get home after work. You just need to do a little bit extra, so that people understand that you really are, it's not just about work, it is about them. I guess it's just, people just need to know that you really care about them, and it's not just about your job.

On Screen Text

RUN TIME: 4 min 12 sec