As a Physiotherapist at Konekt Workcare, I commonly deal with clients whose injuries have complexities that lead to extended periods of time off work.
The initial injuries are primarily related to overuse and repetitive strain, slips, trips and falls, mainly in the lower back, neck, knee and shoulder. However, knock-on psychological effects, such as depression, anxiety and chronic pain conditions, are unfortunately all too prevalent.
These issues are often further complicated by workers compensation schemes that can contribute to financial stress, relationship breakdowns and the erosion of workplace relations.
But it’s not just the workers who suffer. Employers also face significant impacts from a workplace injury, among which are increasing insurance premiums and a loss of workplace productivity.
This is why it is crucial for employers to establish best practice safety procedures, deliver simplified early intervention and injury disclosure protocols, and support early treatment when injuries do occur.
The most important step an employer can take when a worker is injured is to support their recovery at work to reduce workplace disengagement and isolation.
How employers are mitigating workplace risks and addressing recovery plans
Today, employers are much more aware of worker safety. Improved safety systems can better identify workplace risks, and many employers implement streamlined early intervention programs through the use of immediate telehealth support, treatment and management.
Some of the tools used by businesses to mitigate risk factors in the workplace include:
- Modern risk assessment and mitigation procedures
- Altering workplace design and environment to make them safer
- Utilising industry-specific technology to reduce risks (i.e. manual handling risks)
- Modern protective equipment and clothing
- Pre-employment assessments to determine individual suitability for a role
Occupational rehabilitation consultants provide a key link between workplaces and rehabilitation. They can ensure a reduction in injuries through a thorough and professional assessment, and provide suggestions that will improve the safety of workplace processes and systems.
They also provide expert guidance on a return-to-work plan for an injured worker, based on the worker’s current working capacity and duties.
Supporting worker recovery at Konekt Workcare
Konekt’s allied health staff provide support for all parties to achieve the best outcomes for the worker, employer and treating health staff.
Recently, Konekt assisted a 48-year-old aged care nurse who tripped and fell on exposed electrical wiring in the common area of the care home, needed surgery and was subsequently off work for two months.
As her employer hadn’t responded to repeated, formal requests for removal of the hazard, her anger and frustration at the avoidable nature of her injury really compounded her stress. Her time off was extended due to the anxiety caused by her condition and the whole situation.
Konekt managed her recovery process and included facilitated discussion whereby she was able to explain her concerns with management in a safe environment, feel heard and achieve a sense of procedural justice.
We also provided appropriate, guided strength and conditioning training, and a graded return to work plan that involved beginning with purely social visits to the care home. I am happy to say our client did gradually build up to performing her previous role and has now successfully returned to her old job.
Occupational rehabilitation is a great career path for qualified Physiotherapists. If you’re curious about this direction for yourself, head to our website to browse career opportunities with Konekt Workcare and subscribe for more updates.