On May 4th, 2016, a male aged 56 suffered a fracture to his left radius at work, immediately being declared unfit for work. The injury required surgical repair to the fracture with 2 plates and 9 screws being inserted.
Months following the surgery, the injured worker was not able to return to work, with his employer requiring he was signed off as fit to undertake his pre-injury work duties. The employer did not offer other suitable duties.
Nerine Botma, a Senior Rehabilitation Consultant based in Perth WA, took ownership of the case, with the aim of facilitating a speedy return to work for the injured worker through our specialised Return To Work Coordination.
Nerine’s consultation with the injured workers specialists first involved reviewing the injured workers physical demands. The specialist provided a medical certificate stating full capacity for his pre-injury work duties with ongoing hand therapy as recommended and to continue with home based exercises. The injured worker attended hand therapy later that day and was discharged from their care.
Return To Work Obstacles
After initial successful consultations, liaison with the employer following specialist review indicated that they were still not happy for injured worker to return to work. The employer raised concerns on the injured workers capability to return to work, requiring all treatment to be completed first.
Nerine advised the employer that the injured worker had completed all hand therapy treatment sessions by this time and his specialist had provided a medical certificate sating that he was fit for pre-injury work duties without any ongoing functional limitations. Despite this, the employer was not able to offer a start date for the injured worker.
The injured worker subsequently became frustrated with this as his specialist had already approved his full capacity with work duties.
Specialised Return To Work Coordination
With special consideration for the situation and sensitivity of relations between the injured worker and employer, Nerine aimed to continue her return to work coordination with empathy and efficiency. Nerine, along with the injured worker, made contact with the injured workers union, helping to coordinate all necessary forms and requested information from the employer.
However, Nerine was wary that contact with the injured workers union may facilitate poor relations between the injured worker and the employer. With this in mind, Nerine requested the injured worker to limit communications with his employer during this period, so to reduce the effect of a negative impact on his workplace relations.
With sufficient controls in place to limit any psychological impacts of RTW, Nerine endeavoured to mediate the situation. Nerine facilitated strong communication through all aspects of the return to work procedure to the employer, injured worker, and insurer. This communication was upheld from initial consultation, to union contact, to the final report being obtained.
During this time, Nerine obtained the Hand Therapy report and coordinated its release to all involved. As anticipated, the employer was agreeable for injured worker to return to work, with a confirmation of a start date only a few days later.
The injured worker was thrilled with his speedy return to work, stating:
“I have been contacted by my employer and been advised that I have been placed on the new roster starting this Friday 5th November. My first day back is Sunday. Thank you both for your help in getting me back to work. Without your input I could see my return to work date being dragged out. It has been an interesting process, one I hope never to repeat with this employer.”
Recovery Partners were pleased with the outcome, prompting a speedy return to work for the injured worker while avoiding any unnecessary misunderstandings between employer and worker.
The insurer was also appreciative of Nerine’s considerate RTWC, stating “…thank you so much for your efforts, it’s been a pleasure dealing with you. Also just so you know ### has been very pleased with your help and highly praised you on how you’ve conducted yourself and for your help.”
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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