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Alternative duties support quick return to work for amputee

Kurtz Transport

When a worker's injury means they may be off work for two months, a supportive employer and an alternative suitable role can make a big difference by getting the worker back to work in just one week.

The injured worker, a forklift driver at Kurtz Transport, partially amputated his thumb on a Friday, and had emergency surgery the next day to pin together the bones to his thumb.

Prior to his injury, he had applied for a supervisory position at Kurtz Transport, and they were looking at the worker as a possible candidate. He was off work for a week during initial recovery. He had the opportunity to enter into temporary supervisory work, which was mainly paperwork based. This helped him get back to work quickly, and get a taste for the different position he was interested in.

WorkCover Queensland Customer Service Manager Matt Cross said by working with Kurtz Transport, the worker, and his doctor, they arranged for him to return to work temporarily in the supervisory role, as a trial, while he recovered from his surgery.

“He was worried after the injury that he would be off work for a long time, which he didn't want to be. He really wanted to get back to work as soon as possible, so was really pleased with the solution to do a paperwork based role until he had fully recovered,” Matt said.

Both the injured worker and Kurtz Transport were delighted with the solution, which resulted in only a week away from work, rather than the initial two months.

'Doing' promotes recovery

Kurtz Transport General Manager Operations, Ben Donnelly said getting their employee back to work as quick as possible was important, not only to the company, but for him to be back amongst his team mates and contributing to his team's success.

“It was great that we were able to offer him suitable alternative duties. It meant that his skills were put to use, and he was back in his supportive work environment,” Ben said.

Matt said recovering at work has well known health benefits for the worker, and their family, as well as benefits for the company.

He added that work plays an important role in any rehabilitation process, because 'doing' promotes recovery, as demonstrated by the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM) and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians' position statement, 'Realising the health benefits of work'.

The paper highlights that being off work for long periods of time can significantly reduce the likelihood of a worker ever returning to work and can have a negative effect on the worker and their family.

You can find more information on the health benefits of work and rehabilitation and return to work, on our website, or call us on 1300 362 128.