Sometimes, the incident is just the start. A workplace injury can spin out into a nightmare that can hamper an employee’s return to work.
In a worst-case scenario, a workplace injury can cause lifelong physical problems. But regardless of the severity, people hurt at work commonly face psychological challenges that makes their return anything but easy. They’re often haunted by mental trauma which can manifest as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety about the risk of suffering injuries in the future and a loss of self-esteem stemming from being absent from the job.
Although serious workplace injury claims have seen a decrease of 31 per cent over the past 13 years, the median payment for those same claims has risen 71 per cent since 2000-01. Safe Work Australia reveals that the majority of compensation claims arise from injuries and musculoskeletal disorders, with only 9 per cent resulting from disease. But regardless of type, a workplace injury is never as straightforward as a hospital visit.
Legal advocates outline the questions that investigators need answers to when assessing compensation.
Questions such as: Has the worker’s life been shortened and has the injury adversely impacted their career? Has their family and personal life been affected and do they now require domestic support or home help?
Helping an injured employee readjust to work
When it comes to an injured employee returning to work, both they and their employer have certain legal obligations. An employee should make efforts towards planning their return to work, making sure the return is successful and actively participate in rehabilitation while cooperating with appropriate assessments.
The employer must ensure return-to-work information is available to their employees. They should also provide the opportunity for ongoing employment (in a reduced capacity if necessary), plan the return to work, and consult with the employee and their health professionals throughout the recovery process.
Every injured employee has a right to privacy, so it’s not appropriate to enquire beyond the information essential to the transition back to work. But an HR manager who understands that the injury often goes beyond what you see, and having and showing empathy, can make all the difference in successfully reintegrating an employee back into the workforce.
For more information on return to work obligations, visit AHRI:ASSIST by clicking here.