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All employers play a crucial role in the prevention and management of workplace injuries.
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Information for Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, Nurses, Exercise Physiologists and Doctors.
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Home » Employers » More Useful Information » Early Intervention- Being Proactive-"A Stitch in Time Saves Nine"

Early Intervention- Being Proactive-"A Stitch in TIme Saves Nine"


There are some basic principles your organisation can follow to increase the likelihood of a timely return to work for an injured worker and they include:



a)    Prompt Reporting


Promptly reporting the claim to your Insurer/Agent along with any suspicious circumstances that may require further investigation is very important. Late reporting of claims increases potential lost time and medical costs, can encourage abusive claims, and increases the probability of expensive litigation. Companies can consider asking the Insurer to investigate any past claims as well as review your own records as an injury may be able to be attached to an old claim or shed some light on the worker. Advise the Agent of any information such as second employment or if the person received any benefits.



b)    Obtain Medical or Treatment


Have the supervisor accompany the injured worker to the provider for emergency or, with the employee’s permission, to the initial non-emergency treatment. First Aiders can arrange initial treatment needs for example RICE including an ice pack for sprain, strains, pulled ligaments to hospitalisation.


The supervisor should observe the quality of treatment and report any problems to the company, e.g long delays, rude treatment, or doctors that seem to be “out of touch” with Workplace injuries. Getting the injured worker to high quality doctors that are savvy to occupational medicine is one of your best means of avoiding exaggerated claims. The supervisor should try to talk to the Doctor about the nature of the injury and options for early return to work.


You company may also consider physiotherapist and even Psychologists can visit a site regularly if required to provide treatment and early intervention at the direct cost of the company which can diffuse a potential claim or reduce claim costs.


If there is no progress with treatment, companies can influence or suggest a change in the physiotherapist or arrange a specialist review.  We tend to like the approach of sports physicians/medicine as the diagnosis is sometimes wrong. Poor treatment can lead to costly claims.



c)     Return to Work (RTW) Options


Experience shows us those involved at any stage ideally should be a health professional or someone with related experience e.g. with the role of the RTW Coordinator to improve potential for outcome.


We all know the longer a worker/person  is off work the more difficult or less likely it is for them to return to work (based on statistics). A focus on RTW in the early stages is important. Set goals with the worker, e.g. return to work and treatment.


The employer should periodically check with the medical and treatment providers to discuss return to work options and if they note any concerns with the injured worker.


Health professionals can monitor the timeframe for Return to Work (RTW) in the early stages as well as ongoing. Many companies outsource the role of handling the investigation to managing the RTW. Having experienced people involved is very important.



d) Value the Employee


Stay in touch with your injured employee. Encourage them to stay faithful to the prescribed therapy. Encourage employees to keep medical appointments and to be available when you call. Opportunity to build a relationship of care and trust.  We still see unnecessary bullying from employers in early stages of a return to work program. Ensure you consult with your workforce to prevent injuries.



e)    Adopt the BioPsychosocial model to manage the RTW


More complex claims need an approach involving close communication with all treaters and health professionals/casemanagers in general. Companies can detect Psychological barriers early and lifestyle and RTW barriers and use screening tools to detect biospychosocial factors.


Once flags or risks/gaps have been identified in a persons coping skills, confidence, work relationships and emotional state these areas need to be addressed. Case conferences with multiple parties are an effective way to keep a RTW on track.



e)    Remain Involved


Companies can utilise health professional with the development of self managed strategies via education/coaching so the injured worker feels empowered with treatment and rehabilitation.


Regular reviews can be arranged to:


  • Monitor risk factors
  • Check outcomes
  • Provide close management and monitoring of return to work program in consultation with all parties
  • Allow for use of tools to identify risks if recovery is delayed and/or risk factors observed
  • Allow for collaboration and information collection to reduce risks
  • Address issues if pain persistent after 3 months ie. psychosocial barriers


f)     Evaluate your companies performance


Ensure your business measures variable such as:


  1. Return to work outcomes. The ARPA study 2011 showed that based on 76781 case records those referred within the first 12 months achieved 80% return to work rate, had shorter intervention and significant lower costs
  2. Workers Compensation Premium
  3. Problems associated with productivity and quality
  4. Absenteeism
  5. Incidents and near misses to determine trends
  6. Turnover with workers i.e. resignations, length of service


By adopting a proactive approach your business will see results across all variables.





Biopsychosocial Injury Management – Heads of Workers Compensation Authorities and Heads of Compulsory Third Party June 2011


Effectiveness of Rehabilitation  - An Analysis of the data by Cortes Solutions 2011


Campbell Research & Consultation (2009) – Australia & New Zealand Return to Work Monitor 2008/2009


Australian Faculty of Occupational & Environment Medicine (AFOEM) 2010 Position Statement “Helping People Return to Work”

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