Earthmoving News, Workplace Health & Safety

New report outlines safe return to work after injury

Two research reports from Griffith University have outlined several recommendations to ensure a safe and supportive return to work for those injured whilst on the job

Two reports by Griffith University have outlined how companies can better facilitate a safe return to work for employees injured on-site

The reports were published as part of SafeWork Australia’s National Return to Work Strategy 2020-2030, which aims at leveraging national action to improve outcomes for those with work-related injury or illness.

The first report, titled Psychological Response to Injury, examined existing scientific literature as well as organisational practices currently implemented across the country and namely, the psychological response to injury or illness which has impacted the individual’s ability to work.

Following the investigation, researchers highlighted the prevalence of negative psychological reactions following work-related injury or illness which resulted in delayed return to work (RTW) and poor health outcomes.

From this, six key recommendations were outlined. Some related to the need for proactive interventions to identify at-risk employees including an enhanced employee screening process for psychological injury risk factors and an increase in early contact during employee recovery.

The paper also states improved support services, training and communications materials would benefit not only the injured employee at hand, but also other stakeholders such as managers and supervisors, who could then better manage the recovery.

The paper also recommended workplaces be more accommodating of injured employees, allowing flexible scheduling, modifying tasks and even allowing for role changes to allow the employee greater autonomy and empowerment.

The second report, Stigma Towards Injured or Ill Workers, aimed to investigate the causes of the workplace-related injury stigma through a blend of academic research and injury consultation, conducted via a survey.

According to the report, one-third of workers anticipated a negative response from colleagues in response to disclosing a workplace injury or illness and over 15 per cent said employers actively discouraged the reporting of injury or incidents.

Overwhelmingly, the research suggests the most effective way to reduce RTW injury stigmas was by establishing an inclusive and mentally healthy workplace.

To achieve this, seven recommendations were outlined to reduce the stigma and its ramifications.

Some leant on a change in mindset, which may require forms of training, in the workplace, including building leadership capabilities, the implementation of formal policies to reduce the stigma and change cultural attitudes toward injured workers.

Other recommendations included the monitoring of the effectiveness of stigma reduction strategies and the raising of awareness of the stigma and its impacts in the workplace.

The research also called upon further research on behaviours impacting the stigma and to improve the qualitative data sets of it.

Given the labour-intensive requirements of jobs in construction and earthmoving, it’s not a stretch to imagine employees within the industry may find themselves injured whilst at work.

Both reports outline a succinct framework where organisations can provide employees a better RTW from injury.

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