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Speedy return to work for shipping services worker

Ross Willaton Maritimo

From speed boat racer to speedy recovery from work injury…doing things quickly comes second nature to 55 year old Ross Willaton. And he didn't disappoint with his fast recovery from back surgery, returning to work just six weeks later.

Ross works for Gold Coast luxury boat building manufacturer Maritimo, and as a Shipping Services and International Warranty manager, he's involved with the delivery of boats to customers all over the world. Ross also takes part in Superboat Championship racing in his spare time.

Ross sustained a lower back injury when climbing up and down one of the boats while loading it. After his injury, Ross was referred to Neurosurgeon Dr Rob Campbell, who recommended back surgery.

While awaiting his surgery date, Ross remained at work performing light duties. During this time he had an incredible amount of support from his boss and co-workers.

WorkCover Queensland Customer Advisor Kerrie Archer said Maritimo was very supportive of Ross, and very helpful with WorkCover. “They even arranged for MRI scans to be picked up from his treating specialist,” she said.

Ross remained at work until the day of his surgery, doing so because he really likes his job and he 'can't stay idle'.

“Ross had his surgery on 20 February 2012 and was back at work six weeks later on full hours. He was champing at the bit to return earlier but was patient while we organised an occupational therapist and suitable duties program to ensure he was fit to return to work,” Kerrie said.

Ross received a full clearance from his Neurosurgeon when he went for his final review six months after his back surgery.

Not only did Ross have a very speedy recovery in returning to his pre-injury role, in November 2012 Ross won the World Superboat Championship in Key West, USA.

Reflecting on his recovery, Ross said the support from his boss, colleagues and WorkCover helped him immensely. “When I was off work after my surgery, management and colleagues kept in touch by phone. Maritimo is a great place to work with great people to work with, so of course I stayed connected and that makes you feel good and needed,” he said.

“I have learnt that if you treat a system and the people that are behind it right, then you will get the correct outcome and get looked after. My three heroes in this story are my neurosurgeon Dr Rob Campbell, my WorkCover Customer Advisor Kerrie Archer and Maritimo liaison Karen Fox.”

Kerrie said Ross' story is a great example of someone who is passionate about their job, and how that passion, combined with a supportive workplace and open communication can help ensure a worker returns to work quickly and safely after an injury.

More information on rehabilitation and return to work is available on our website, or please call 1300 362 128.