Managing Return to Work

A very large percentage of my work involves managing a patient returning back to the workplace. Obviously I have to understand what their injury is and the impact that it will have on their work, but it is also important to understand the work itself.

A worksite visit often helps to see the work environment, the workstation, but also the intangible stuff – the relationship with their line managers, the relationship with other workers.

Once I have visited the workplace, I may communicate with the employer, a union representative, or perhaps members of the patient’s family to understand what their expectations are and what the opportunities are to get the individual worker back to work.

I often negotiate with the parties involved to set up a graduated return to work plan.

You may start with a couple of hours a day, maybe doing alternative duties, perhaps doing a clerical role rather than doing a manufacturing role.

Sometimes that is not possible – the patient may not have the capacity to return to work, they may not have the transferable skills to work in a different part of the factory and they may not have the qualifications, and at that point to negotiate, to try and arrange re-training, maybe on the job, or maybe re-training outside their work in order to give them the best chance of getting back to work.