Helping a worker recover from injury on the job is good for them and for your business.
Achieving an early recovery may not always be simple, but a worker back in the workplace – even on reduced hours and/or modified duties – is likely to recover faster than they would at home.
The advantages stack up. You retain your worker’s skills and experience, and maintain productivity, while their activity and social contact with workmates boosts recovery and morale. Not only that, but it may help reduce your premiums and the cost to your business of hiring and training a replacement worker to fill their shoes.
So what’s the norm? Well, most injured workers need little or no time off work. For those that do, the vast majority (more than 80 per cent) return to and recover at work within the first 13 weeks. In contrast, the longer a worker is off work the less likely they are to ever return , so helping someone recover at work is clearly the smart option.
Once you, your worker, doctor and insurer agree on a recover at work plan, you can help the worker safely ease themselves back into the workplace.
Here are five tips for helping an injured worker recover on the job:
- Pave the way – keep co-workers in the loop with developments. Co-workers should understand that an agreed recover at work strategy is vital for their workmate’s timely recovery and that they can expect the same help if they are ever injured at work. It also helps prevent co-workers jumping to conclusions and assuming the worker is getting ‘special treatment’ or not ‘pulling their weight’.
- Touch base – once your worker is back in the workplace, chat to them regularly and see how they are going. If the worker flags a problem, you will hopefully be able to resolve it before it turns into a bigger issue. Ask their supervisor to keep you up to speed with the worker’s progress. Close monitoring enables any necessary adjustments to the recover at work plan.
- Wiggle room – be as flexible as possible with agreed working hours so that your worker feels comfortable with arrangements and not under pressure. You also need to know when the worker is going for medical or physiotherapy treatment so you can arrange time off or modify working hours.
- Ticket to ride – if the worker is having difficulties getting around (due to a plaster cast, for example) consider arranging a car ride, possibly with a workmate, or investigate public transport options. Talk to your insurer about possible assistance.
- Helping hand – consider assigning a colleague as a workplace ‘buddy’ to support your worker. It might be helpful and it can further boost the worker’s confidence by acting as a safety net. It can also strengthen a sense of camaraderie and boost morale, with co-workers recognising the worker is doing their best to recover on the job instead of staying at home.
Get more tips and find out about Return to Work Assist at safework.nsw.gov.au or call us on 13 10 50.