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Early Intervention Pays Off for Return to Work

CommunicationEarly intervention in workplace related injuries could save Australian businesses billions in lost productivity and health care costs.  To calculate the economic costs to Australian businesses of lost time injuries one needs to include sick leave, staff replacement, turnover, job dissatisfaction, lost productivity, increased conflict, training, poor morale and an increased likelihood of injury.

Studies show that the earlier a referral is made after an injury the higher the chance of a successful return to work. 

In an effort to reduce this cost and increase return to work rates, the Queensland Government has implemented the ‘Resolve at Work’ early intervention model for the Public Sector.

The Government found that, in addition to reducing the direct costs of statutory claims, investigations and Workers Compensation Premium, early intervention could help mitigate the indirect costs that stem from a reactive stance on workplace injury.

Workplace injury and the resultant lost time is estimated to cost $60bn each year. Costs to business could be significantly reduced by earlier intervention through treatment and rehabilitation to mitigate this economic cost and improve health and return to work outcomes for Australia’s workforce.

To date an adoption of early intervention has saved the Queensland government around $9 million, which gives a far greater return on investment than other options. Outcomes include:

  • Reduced absence/turnover
  • Increased productivity/workplace morale
  • Provides alternatives to resolve formal complaints and grievances, thereby reducing investigation costs/resources
  • Improved maintain-at-work and return-to-work outcomes
  • Reduced workers’ compensation costs

In addition to this, organisations must take a robust approach to managerial commitment and leadership, as well as communication and team work between HR, WHS and Finance. Reporting and evaluation, roles and responsibilities and early identification of distressed workers must be promoted throughout the organisation and at all levels.

The need for a faster return to work is made more critical when considering the chances of an individual ever returning to work drops over time.

For example a recent report by Konekt Consulting found that if a worker doesn’t return to work after 20 days, the chance of them ever returning is 70%. After 45 days, this drops to 50% and after 70 days it falls to 35%.
 

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

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