May 11, 2024 • 9 min read

Workplace Rehabilitation 101: Your Comprehensive Guide

Written by: Stephen Zeng

Are you struggling to understand workplace rehabilitation and its role in workers compensation? Read on to uncover the basics of work rehab, such as what to expect from the process as well as its goals and benefits.

Workplace rehabilitation is the process of helping an injured or ill worker recover at or return to work in a safe and timely manner. This process focuses on finding the most suitable ways for the worker to remain engaged with the workplace while retaining their valuable skills.

The workplace rehabilitation process typically begins after a workers compensation claim has been lodged and approved by the insurer. Its objective is to return the worker to their pre-injury duties as soon as possible, often shored up by a period in which the employee is given suitable duties as part of their overall Return to Work (RTW) Plan.

Workplace rehabilitation is not only good for the worker’s well-being and job security, it also benefits employers by retaining valuable employees and reducing costs linked to workplace injuries.

The Workplace Rehabilitation Process

The workplace rehabilitation process involves several stages. The process can look different for everyone as each injured worker faces their own unique set of challenges.

Here at AusRehab, providing a personalised and high-quality workplace rehab program that addresses your needs is just one of the many ways we help our clients obtain excellent outcomes.

Broadly speaking, any work rehab process should encompass the following aspects:

  • Initial Assessment: An evaluation of the worker’s physical and mental health. This step is crucial to identifying the employee’s current limitations and capacity for work, as well as to develop an appropriate Return to Work Plan.
  • Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE): An in-depth assessment designed to measure an individual’s ability to perform work-related tasks and activities of daily living (ADL).
  • Workplace Assessment: An assessment of the worker’s work environment and pre-injury duties to see if it is safe and suitable for them. This step aims to identify potential hazards, ergonomic concerns, and any factors that might impact the safety of the worker.
  • Medical Case Conference: A meeting organised periodically between the nominated treating doctor (NTD) and the injured worker to check on their progress, and to see if any adjustments to their treatment are needed. The insurer and rehab provider may also be involved.
  • Return to Work (RTW) Plan: The doctor and rehab provider will put together a custom plan tailored to the worker’s recovery needs, with the aim of returning the employee to work over a gradual period. The RTW plan can include an estimated recovery time frame and recovery goals.

Workplace Rehabilitation Providers

Workplace rehabilitation providers like AusRehab are dedicated to assisting injured or ill employees in their return to work journey. Apart from providing all of the services listed above, work rehab providers also help employees:

  • Gain access to a team of professional rehabilitation consultants, including:
    • Occupational therapists
    • Physiotherapists
    • Exercise physiologists
    • Psychologists
  • Communicate with key stakeholders, such as:
    • Employer
    • Insurer
    • NTD
  • Address concerns of slow recovery
  • Find suitable work, either with same employer or new employer

For a more comprehensive understanding of the role AusRehab can play in your workplace rehabilitation process, visit our website.

Choosing Your Work Rehab Provider

While doctors, employers or insurers can recommend a workplace rehabilitation provider to the worker, the worker has the right to select their preferred provider.

A worker can also request to change to a more appropriate provider, if an engaged provider is later deemed to be unsuitable for the worker’s needs or circumstances.

Paying for the Cost of Workplace Rehabilitation

Workplace rehabilitation services fall under medical costs in workers compensation claims and are paid for by the insurer. The services must be considered reasonably necessary and approved by the insurer – based on the worker’s circumstances – before treatment can proceed.

Benefits of Workplace Rehabilitation

When we hear that someone we care about is injured or has taken ill, our first reaction is to wish them a speedy recovery – why should that be any different in an employer-employee relationship?

Besides appealing to our innate desire to ensure the well-being of those around us, work rehab has many other obvious benefits for both the workers and the organisations they belong to.

For Employees:

  • Reduced pain and improved physical health
  • Improved mental well-being and self-confidence
  • Swifter return to work
  • Less disruption to social and working life
  • Improved mental health
  • Better physical condition and confidence in returning to work
  • Job and financial security

For Employers:

  • Retention of skilled workers
  • Enhanced worker productivity and resilience
  • Enhanced workplace morale
  • Reduced costs, such as WorkCover premiums and employee replacement costs
  • Compliance with legislative obligations

Request a callback from us to find out how our services can provide effective solutions to remedy your work rehab woes today.

Did You Know?

“Workplace rehabilitation is crucial for maintaining a healthy balance between work and recovery; it ensures both the well-being of employees and a productive work environment for employers.”

  • Recovering at work is shown to significantly improve well-being.
  • It maintains connections, encourages activity, boosts confidence, and minimises the risk of long-term disability.
  • Returning to work doesn’t require one to be fully recovered; even part-time work can aid in recovery.
  • The longer someone is off work, the less likely it is for them to return. If a worker is off work for 20 days, the chance of returning drops to 70%, and it decreases further the longer one is absent.

Further information on workplace rehabilitation

*The details in this article were correct and current when it was written. However, changes in business practices, policies, and other pertinent areas may have occurred since then. Readers should confirm the current validity of the content on their own.

Stephen Zeng
Stephen is the director and the principal writer at AusRehab, leading workplace rehabilitation provider, with a focus on addressing and resolving workplace injuries.

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