truck returning to work after workplace injuries

26 May 2020 posted by Recovery Partners

When NSW dump truck operator, Rob, had a catastrophic shoulder injury, he was determined to prove his surgeon wrong and get back to work as soon as he could.

Slips, trips and falls account for many workplace injuries and these unlucky accidents can have serious impacts, as was the case for NSW dump truck operator *Rob. Rob worked for a mining company and was accustomed to doing long, 12.5 hour shifts. But, earlier this year, Rob’s shift was cut short when he had a fall while walking on-site. ‘Rob basically split his shoulder in half,’ says Recovery Partners Rehabilitation Consultant and OT, Jessie Foley. Rob also injured his right elbow, wrist and knee in the fall, but it was the shoulder that required the most attention. ‘Rob needed a fracture fixation, rotator cuff repair and biceps tenodesis, so the surgeon repaired these arthroscopically,’ says Jessie. ‘Then he started treatment with a physio while he recovered.’

Rob was determined to prove his surgeon wrong

The surgeon warned Rob that he may never get his full range of movement back in his shoulder after his workplace injuries, but that was like a red rag to a bull, says Jessie. ‘Rob was determined to prove the surgeon wrong! He vowed that he would get his full range of movement back, and he was very diligent with his exercises to make sure he gave it a good shot.’ With this extra motivation, Rob’s recovery progressed well. A return to work plan was drafted in which Rob would complete shorter 4-hour shifts as his capacity increased in order not to fatigue him.

COVID-19 meant extra caution

‘But, then coronavirus happened,’ says Jessie. ‘Rob’s employers decided that it was too risky to allow the shorter shifts, as this would mean more staff sharing equipment and crossing paths. They asked that Rob be completely fit for his pre-injury duties before he returned to work, and they wanted a more comprehensive report to confirm this.’ This request is not uncommon, says Jessie, as businesses in the resources sector are often cautious when it comes to workers returning after workplace injuries, and the additional pandemic safety measures compounded this. However, Rob was keen to get back in the driver’s seat after eight months off, so it was time to show his employers that he was up to the task.

Jessies’ functional assessment clears the way for Rob’s return to work

‘I decided to conduct a functional assessment to ascertain Rob’s capacity for work,’ Jessie says. ‘As an OT, I use tools like a physical assessment and job task analysis to check things like how much Rob can lift, and this information allows me to make recommendations about what he’s capable of at work.’ Once Jessie had completed the assessment, she was able to take that information back to the physio and Rob’s doctor. ‘I found in the assessment that Rob was more than ready physically to return to work, and his mental health had remained stable. His treating doctor was then happy to sign off on Rob making a full return to pre-injury duties.’

Rob’s triumphant return

Rob returns to work this week and we hope he enjoys reuniting with his truck!   If you’d like the assistance of Jessie Foley or another Rehabilitation Consultant to help you get results like these, get in touch.


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Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at