How we helped an injured worker with PTSD return to work as soon and safely as possible.
In November 2016, Mr B, a driver for Lindsay Australia Limited (Lindsays), was involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident involving his truck and a motorcycle. Mr B was cleared as “Not at fault”, but was understandably affected psychologically by the event. As can occur in these situations, there was a delayed onset of Mr B’s symptoms. Mr B had stoically continued to work as a driver until early January 2017. At this time, a minor incident occurred when he reversed his truck into a car in a tight carpark. There was only very minor damage and no one was harmed, however this triggered psychological symptoms which was later diagnosed as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Mr B was no longer able to work as a truck driver without experiencing great distress. He was deemed medically unable to work. Lindsays engaged Recovery Partners to help Mr B return to work safely.
We wanted to gradually expose Mr B to work involving heavy vehicles, however we didn’t want to rush the process as it could trigger Mr B’s psychological symptoms and further delay his recovery. The challenge was to help Mr B overcome his PTSD, allowing him to again feel comfortable and confident that he could drive a truck again.
Lindsay’s engaged Recovery Partners in the early stages to provide counselling as part of an Employee Assistance Program. During this early intervention service, it became apparent that more intensive psychological support was required to successfully treat Mr B and best support his recovery. A multidisciplinary support structure was established around Mr B. This included the Lindsays HR team, his local supervisor, his GP, Psychologist, WorkCover QLD claims advisor and Recovery Partners.
Recovery Partners acted as a conduit between Mr B’s medical management team and key stakeholders within the workplace. The intervention ensured Mr B’s medical team was aware of the support and opportunities available at the workplace, which would allow for medically appropriate exposure to activities involving heavy vehicles. Similarly, medical information in the form of potential triggers and associated precautions were suitably conveyed to the workplace.
Mr B’s supervisor also required support and guidance in dealing with critical workplace incidents and in managing complex psychological conditions. Recovery Partners worked alongside Lindsay Australia’s HR team to support local managers in ensuring a graded and measured approach was taken which would best aid in Mr B’s recovery
Mr B commenced his return to work in a safe environment completing depot based duties. Whilst he wasn’t driving at the time, he was exposed to vehicles and traffic. His return to work plan involved gradual exposure to heavy vehicles in his immediate work environment, without the requirement for Mr B to drive. This progressed to Mr B driving a forklift. After further support within his treatment regime Mr B accompanied other drivers on their runs and was then cleared to drive a local route in a smaller more manageable, rigid truck. Eventually, Mr B was exposed to driving his normal truck on his normal route, without issue.
Mr B has returned to full time work and is fully capable of driving his truck without triggering his PTSD.
What the Client Had to Say:
“Speaking from own personal experience and situation, the concern and patience shown by Recovery Partners though my recovery process has been essential. I would especially like to thank my case worker Lara, whose genuine support and professionalism though this trying time has helped me more than she probably realises. I can honestly say without the help of Recovery Partners during this difficult time, things could have turned out very differently. Thank you very much” – Mr B
Overseeing an employee’s return to work can be a delicate process which can impact morale within a team. That’s why, for many organisations, the most cost-effective and effective way to manage WHS commitments is to outsource them. Recovery Partners manages the WHS for a wide range of Australian businesses. Our clients feel comfortable knowing our experts manage their employer obligations and help to keep workers compensations premiums down while maximising workforce efficiency.
Our services are available in multiple locations nationwide. For more information, you can make enquiries here. Alternatively, our consultants love to have a chat, so go ahead and give us a call on 1300 OHS RTW (647 789).
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 www.workcover.nsw.au
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