Why you need an effective Return To Work Program

Posted on: Thursday, 17 August 2017.

Workers Compensation Claims can quickly get out of control unless they are managed closely. But what are the true costs of ineffective Return To Work (RTW) and how can you minimise them?

  • Disruption to the worker's psycho-social health and wellbeing
  • Protracted recovery times
  • Disruption to workplace productivity
  • Impact on staff turnover and morale
  • Increased claims cost and premium cost (Redeployment costs on average 4x return to pre-injury role)

There are four key areas that support the effective implementation of a best practice approach to return to work, including:

  • Building partnerships in RTW practice
  • Operational policies and procedures aligned to best practice
  • Proactive, outcome-focussed Allied Health provider arrangements
  • Building staff capability in RTW best practice.

1. Building partnerships in RTW practice

At Country Wide Insurance Brokers (CWIB), we have key partnerships with leading rehabilitation and injury management providers who can assist you effectively manage claims by offering:

  • Return to work training
  • Injury Management policy development
  • Timely and effective communication
  • Expertise in Rehabilitation & Claims Management

2. Operational policies and procedures aligned to best practice

  • It is compulsory for all employers to have a documented Injury Management System in place. This is a written procedure describing the steps that will be taken if there is an injury in the workplace. Employers may also be required to develop a written Return To Work Program for injured workers, in consultation with the workers’ GP or insurer.
  • Controlling the Post-Injury Process

The employer must take charge. There should be tight post-injury processes that describe exactly what will occur after an injury. Most employers have no cohesive processes for handling injuries and thus lose control of the ability to assist and influence in the RTW process immediately.

Unfortunately, many employees try to stay out of work the entire time they are in any pain. But medical experts say injured employees should return to work as soon as possible because they will recover faster.

3. Proactive, outcome-focussed allied health provider arrangements

  • Implement a preferred provider relationship with a local GP and physiotherapist clinic. Having an existing relationship with a treating Doctor means they know the kind of work the business does and the support systems in place

  • Have a Manager attend the Doctors’ appointments with your worker. One of the best and easiest ways to improve RTW rates is for the Manager to attend the Doctor’s appointment with the injured worker, especially in the earliest stages.


  • Open, direct and transparent communication between all parties has been shown to positively influence the return to work process.

  • Team Leader or Line Manager will have a better understanding of the injury/illness, how long the injury may take to heal and the impact that this may have on the workplace.

4. Building staff capability in RTW practice

  • The relationship between the injured worker and the employer (especially their direct Manager/Supervisor) has been shown to have the biggest impact on the success of the RTW process.

  • Foster a company culture supportive of injured workers and their RTW. Encourage the development of flexible suitable duties for returning workers.

  • Provide training and return to work packs for your Managers to ensure they are clear on what to do when an injury occurs and how to manage return to work.

If you require further information on Rehabilitation, Injury Management and Injury Prevention services please contact us, call us on (08) 6279 2300 or email us at info@cwib.com.au

This article references original content from "Treating the Whole Elephant. A Holistic Approach to Reducing Workers Compensation Costs by Rebecca A Shafer. Risk Management. New York: Nov 2005.Vol.52, Iss. 11; pg. 10, 7 pgs"

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