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Supervisor support

Supervisor support is important to help an injured or ill worker’s effective recovery and RTW.

The support can be ‘instrumental’ such as offering practical help to solve problems, sharing their knowledge or advice to resolve issues or concerns or it may be ‘emotional’ - listening sympathetically to the worker.

A supervisor is most effective when they have the skills, knowledge, and training to confidently support the worker throughout the recovery and RTW process. This includes helping manage any concerns the worker may have. You can develop a safety reporting system that includes the immediate supervisor so they can support the injured worker as part of the early intervention process.

Provide your supervisors with ongoing training and development opportunities to support them foster good relationships between workers and supervisors. Look to recruit managers with effective people management skills.

The Building Stronger Teams - Supporting Effective Team Leaders (PDF, 0.09 MB) resource can help you engage and communicate effectively with workers on work health and safety (WHS) issues and provide support during recovery and RTW.

Workers returning to work after an injury or illness often need additional support. If they don’t feel supported, this can lead to uncertainty, erode trust in the employer and hamper an injured worker’s motivation to participate in recovery and RTW. Workers who feel they are supported will generally achieve better recovery and RTW outcomes.

Supervisors can assist in a workers’ recovery by supporting and encouraging positive expectations about returning to work. This may include coordinating reasonable modifications to accommodate the worker’s recovery and RTW. Supervisors should consult with injured workers to develop a written suitable duties program.

  • The Injury information pack: A guide for employers and workers (DOCX, 0.61 MB) can help employers (including supervisors) and workers understand what’s required in the event of a work-related injury or illness and the benefits of planning for RTW as soon as possible.
  • The Employer Return to Work Guide (PDF, 0.06 MB) has a useful checklist to ensure everyone involved in the recovery and RTW 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 to happen and when.

Encourage your supervisors to continue to provide support during the recovery and RTW work process to identify any potential barries and find solutions that will suit your business and the injured worker. This may include making modifications to accommodate the worker's recovery at work.

Supervisors can discuss any immediate concerns and make sure an injured or ill worker has all the information they need to start their recovery and RTW.

Supervisors can promote the benefits of staying at or returning to work by maintaining regular contact with an injured worker.  This can help prevent minor concerns becoming barriers to recovery.


View the Resources page for information and tips on how to improve your systems and processes to build your safety capability and understand your legal obligations.