About injury management and staying at or returning to work

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1 About injury management and staying at or returning to work Returning to work after an injury is an essential part of rehabilitation and can help you improve the health and wellbeing of staff. It can also reduce the cost of injuries. Injuries are costly, to employers and to the employee themselves and can have a negative effect on your business whether the injury happened at work or not. Having injured employees off work for extended periods of time may have a wide-ranging effect on things such as: productivity levels, financial costs associated with replacement labour, staff morale and employment relationships. Fortunately you can do something about it. By helping your injured employees to return to work you are assisting in their recovery. You also limit the impact that the injury may have on your business. Supporting an injured employee is not just something you do because you are asked to; doing so makes good business sense. Starter suggestions for employers Develop a Return to Work policy Put in place steps that need to be taken when someone has an injury, and assign specific responsibilities to people involved. (Tip: it is good to involve your employees in the development of the policy). Involve staff ensure that all staff members are familiar with the Return to Work policy, procedures and also understand everyone s responsibilities. Reporting and intervening early Encourage employees to report any discomfort, pain or injuries to their supervisors, and address their concerns as soon as possible. Keep in contact stay in touch with your employee following an injury and make sure that they know about the support that is available. Communicate with interested parties These parties may include ACC, or medical treatment providers. Where appropriate, ensure that interested parties are given the opportunity to have input into the management of the injury in the workplace. Develop a Return to Work plan Work with your employee to determine the actions that need to be taken to help the employee to safely return to work, and the timeframes that actions need to be completed in. Monitor progress Make sure that any factors that may influence the success of the Return to Work plan are identified early, and addressed appropriately. How can ACC help? If you would like more information or to discuss Injury Management and Returning to Work please contact an ACC on , and ask to speak to an Injury Management consultant. If your need for assistance is related to a specific ACC claim, please contact ACC on and speak to the Case Manager responsible for the management of the claim. 1

2 If your organisation has a dedicated ACC Account Manager then they may also be able to provide general assistance. Tools in this section: Creating a Return to Work policy Developing a Return to Work plan Monitoring a Return to Work Key Return to Work action checklist Preventing a delayed Return to Work Understanding Medical Certificates For further information Internet: www. acc.co.nz > Claims and care > For Employers and Agents > Manage injured employees > Return to work your questions to: Phone: Call ACC on , and ask for an Injury Management Consultant. 2

3 Helping employees get back to work Creating a policy This resource has been developed by ACC to assist you in dealing with the impact of injury. However, you may find this resource can be applied to situations where you have an employee off work because of illness. A workplace injury management return to work policy details how your organisation helps injured employees return to work safely and successfully. It forms part of your organisation s health and safety system. How to create a return to work policy 1. Contact your ACC Injury Management Consultant, who can provide advice and a policy template to help you get started 2. Get buy-in from management Tip Focus on the benefits, both cost and non-cost, associated with an early return to work when talking to management (see Benefits of an early return to work section) 3. Assign someone to be responsible for developing and reviewing the policy and the procedures within it 4. Consult with stakeholders to obtain their knowledge and support - eg. Managers/ Supervisors, employees, union representatives, health and safety representatives Tip Consider any industry standards and/or relevant legislation eg. health and safety legislation 5. Write a draft policy and procedures document and send it to stakeholders for comment (see What to include section) Tip Write the policy and procedures in simple, everyday language 6. Take on board feedback and make any changes 7. Send a final version to stakeholders for approval 8. Educate all staff on key policy and procedure information - eg. via meetings, internal communication channels, induction and ongoing training 9. Establish a process for regular policy and procedure review and improvement Tip It s a good idea to involve your employees in reviews. What to include Your return to work policy and procedures should include: The benefits of the policy and its goals, both short and long term How you plan to manage workplace absences

4 How you ll meet industry standards as well as health, safety and occupational rehabilitation legislation How you ll consult with stakeholders Defined roles and responsibilities (see Roles and responsibilities section) How you ll communicate policy and procedure information to all staff in your organisation (see Effective communication ACC1714) A process for policy and procedure review and improvement, including review timeframes Tip If your organisation has a health and safety committee, ask committee members for advice. More ways to establish an injury management policy in your organisation Create an environment where staying at work and returning to work are part of normal workplace practice (the following points will help to do this) Treat and manage work injuries in the same way as non-work injuries Develop a return to work plan whenever an employee is absent from work for more than a few days (see Creating a return to work plan ACC1707) Provide temporary suitable duties whenever possible (see Identifying suitable duties ACC1710) Support and monitor your employee s progress when they return to work (see Workplace monitoring ACC1709) Build relationships and keep in regular contact with your injured employees and their recovery team members (see Effective communication ACC1714). Roles and responsibilities The following roles and responsibilities are examples only you may need to adjust them to fit your organisation: The Return to Work Coordinator is responsible for: Acting as your organisation s injury management representative Writing and updating the return to work policy and procedures Consulting with stakeholders Planning, leading and monitoring return to work activities Developing return to work plans with injured employees and their Managers/ Supervisors (see Creating a return to work plan ACC1707) Identifying temporary suitable duties (see Identifying suitable duties ACC1710) Keeping in regular contact with injured employees and their recovery team members Developing and maintaining reporting systems for incidents and injuries.

5 The injured employee s Manager/Supervisor is responsible for: Ensuring all team members are trained on incident reporting and return to work procedures Ensuring medical assistance is provided/requested as soon as possible following a workplace injury Arranging someone suitable to escort injured employees to treatment where necessary Tip This could be the Manager/Supervisor themselves Providing information on job demands to injured employees, their treatment providers and ACC Helping to plan, implement and monitor return to work plans and, where necessary, any ACC individual rehabilitation plans Providing any options for temporary suitable duties to the Return to Work Coordinator Providing support (eg. by making injured employees feel valued, adapting to their needs and keeping in regular contact) Considering what impact injured employees may have on other team members when they return to work, including workloads Involving union representatives where appropriate. The injured employee is responsible for: Contacting and staying in touch with their Manager/Supervisor and the organisation s Return to Work Coordinator, if they re absent from work Understanding the organisation s procedures for reporting incidents and injuries Immediately reporting any incident, injury or discomfort to their Manager/Supervisor Providing their treatment provider with as much information as possible about the type of job they do, the demands of their job and any suitable duties they can think of Tip The Return to Work Coordinator should send information about suitable duties to the treatment provider Actively participating in the development of a return to work plan and, where necessary, an ACC individual rehabilitation plan Complying with the return to work plan and, if applicable, the ACC individual rehabilitation plan Returning to work when their treatment provider certifies that they can. Benefits of an early return to work The benefits associated with an early return to work can include: Helping your employees achieve better recovery outcomes Helping your employees get back to work faster Helping ensure your employees return to work safely and successfully

6 Helping your employees maintain their confidence, technical skills and knowledge Helping your organisation make health and safety/injury management system improvements Retaining the investment your organisation has made in the skills and knowledge of your employees Improving/sustaining the level of morale in your workplace, because it shows that your organisation plays an active role in your employees wellbeing Reducing the cost of lost productivity and overtime Reducing or eliminating the cost of replacing employees (eg. advertising costs and recruitment time, loss of productivity while you re recruiting and training, and possible increases in waste). Ensuring your organisation operates best practice. Other resources Creating a return to work plan (ACC1707) Effective communication (ACC1714) Identifying suitable duties (ACC1710) Workplace monitoring (ACC1709) Contact ACC we re here to help Contact your organisation s ACC Account Manager or Injury Management Consultant Contact your employee s ACC Case Manager/ Coordinator Call ACC on am-5pm weekdays Alternatively, you can ACC1711 Printed June 2008 ACC information online

7 Helping employees get back to work Creating a return to work plan This resource has been developed by ACC to assist you in dealing with the impact of injury. However, you may find this resource can be applied to situations where you have an employee off work because of illness. What is a return to work plan? A return to work plan details actions to be carried out to help your employee return to work safely. The plan will state who s responsible for completing each action and a timeframe for each action. It s important to create a return to work plan because it ensures your employee and everyone in their recovery team knows what they have to do and when they have to do it. Whenever one of your employees is off work for more than a few days due to an injury, you and your employee should create a return to work plan together. If a serious or complex injury has occurred, ACC will also develop a plan with a slightly different focus (see ACC individual rehabilitation plans ACC1718). For example, it s more likely to focus on treatment activities to help your employee build up their capacity to return to work. Your employee s ACC Case Manager/Coordinator will let you and your employee know how the plans tie in together and can help to ensure the goals of both plans are aligned. What are the benefits? The benefits of creating a return to work plan include: Helping your employee achieve a better recovery outcome Helping your employee get back to work faster Helping ensure your employee s return to work is safe and sustainable Helping your organisation make health and safety system improvements Ensuring your organisation operates best practice. Tip An ACC Injury Management Consultant or Account Manager can give you advice and support when creating a return to work plan. Creating a return to work plan 1. Talk to ACC It s a good idea to take the lead and contact your employee s ACC Case Manager/ Coordinator to find out if ACC will also be developing a return to work plan. 2. Talk to your employee Regularly ask your employee how they re doing and reassure them of your support (see Effective communication ACC1714)

8 Explain the purpose of the return to work plan Ask them to consent to your speaking to their treatment provider and/or ACC, and for the release of medical information to help plan their return to work Depending on your employee s condition, invite them to team meetings, work social events etc. Keeping strong links with your workplace helps your employee get back to work faster. 3. Determine the demands of pre-injury duties Identify the demands of the jobs in your workplace. ACC can help you to do this and can advise if a specialist assessor is required to do a full job analysis It s important that your employee returns to work performing duties that are aligned with the information provided on their medical certificate (see Medical certificates ACC1719). 4. Consider suitable duties If it s unlikely your employee will be able to return to their usual job straight away, consider what suitable duties they could do (see Identifying suitable duties ACC1710). 5. Contact the treatment provider Give your employee s treatment provider information about the demands of their usual job and any suitable duties available Ask the treatment provider for a medical opinion on when your employee can return to work. Note Any new information about job demands and/or suitable duties could change what s stated on your employee s medical certificate. 6. Meet to discuss and document the plan Meet with your employee and their recovery team (eg. their Manager/Supervisor, support person, union representative) to work through and agree on the details of the return to work plan. If your employee has been assigned an ACC Case Manager, also include them in the meeting Write down the agreed actions, responsibilities and timeframes that form the basis of the return to work plan. Meeting checklist Discuss goals and actions Explain the purpose of the meeting Agree on goals (eg. productivity) - goals must be S.M.A.R.T. (ie. specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound) Detail the actions needed to achieve the goals, who s responsible for doing what and the date they should be done by (eg. Manager to adjust desk height to enable adequate leg clearance by 2 March). Clarify the situation Detail your employee s usual duties and explain any suitable duties that are available Review any restrictions written on your employee s medical certificate.

9 Discuss duties and breaks Agree on temporary suitable duties (if usual duties can t be performed straight away) and decide when the temporary duties will stop/be reviewed Decide where your employee will work Agree on the hours of work Agree on breaks (ie. frequency and duration) Discuss any special needs or conditions and what will be done to help (eg. assistance with transport). ACC may be able to help with special needs. Tip Varying duties so your employee changes posture may be a useful option. Tip Be flexible while your employee recovers, because they may get tired quickly or need time off to visit a treatment provider. The treatment provider s advice will be valuable when making these decisions. Discuss reviews, updates and support Set a start date for the return to work plan Set review dates. The first review should be no more than one week from the start date. After each review, update the plan if necessary Assign someone on-site to support your employee and monitor their progress Ensure all those involved in the development of the return to work plan agree to it and sign it. Helpful hints Stay in regular contact with your employee and their recovery team, because this is vital in achieving a successful return to work Meetings with busy treatment providers can be hard to arrange, so ask what works best for them this might be at their office or via conference call. Alternatively, your employee could take a list of questions to their next appointment. If you re having trouble contacting the treatment provider, call your employee s ACC Case Manager/ Coordinator for assistance Develop contingency plans in case problems arise Monitor and review your employee s progress so that problems can be identified and managed early If your injured employee s capabilities change, review the return to work plan straight away. Other resources ACC individual rehabilitation plans (ACC1718) ACC support services (ACC1698) Effective communication (ACC1714) Identifying suitable duties (ACC1710) Medical certificates (ACC1719) Return to work plan template (Word document)

10 How to use this document Contact ACC we re here to help ACC1707 Printed June 2008 Contact your organisation s ACC Account Manager or Injury Management Consultant Contact your employee s ACC Case Manager/ Coordinator Call ACC on am-5pm weekdays Alternatively, you can ACC information online

11 Helping employees get back to work Step by step overview This resource has been developed by ACC to assist you in dealing with the impact of injury. However, you may find this resource can be applied to situations where you have an employee off work because of illness. This information sheet provides an overview of the return to work process. It also tells you about other resources you can refer to for more information about a specific part of the process. Tip - Because return to work situations can differ, we recommend you contact your ACC Account Manager or Injury Management Consultant in order to achieve the best fit for your organisation. Establish a return to work policy for your organisation Helpful resource: Creating a policy (ACC1711). Set up return to work processes and procedures Helpful resources: Step by step overview (ACC1695) Self-assessment guide (ACC1789) Common questions (ACC1699). If the injury happens at work: Help them to get treatment Control (eliminate, isolate or minimise) and investigate the hazard. One of your employees is injured It s important that they seek treatment as soon as possible. If appropriate, the first treatment visit is also the best time to give information about the demands of the job to your employee and their treatment provider. Start the return to work process Helpful resource: Actions checklist (ACC1706). Open communication Help to ensure there s early, open and regular communication between: You as the employer (eg. line Manager/Supervisor, HR, your organisation s key return to work contact) Your employee Your employee s treatment provider/s ACC. Helpful resources: Effective communication (ACC1714) ACC claim approval decision (ACC1759) Brochure/s to give to your employee (ACC2010 and/or ACC4612) Brochure to give to your employee s line Manager/ Supervisor (ACC1992). Continued

12 Can your employee return to work? Yes fully fit Partially fit for selected work No fully unfit Fit for selected work or fully unfit A return to work plan is needed Give information about the demands of the job to your employee, their treatment provider/s and ACC Let all parties know if temporary suitable duties are available. Helpful resources: Creating a return to work plan (ACC1707) ACC support services (ACC1698) Workplace assessments (ACC1701) Identifying suitable duties (ACC1710) Medical certificates (ACC1719) Employee earnings certificates (ACC1760). Individual rehabilitaton plan Your employee may also need an ACC-driven individual rehabilitation plan for a more serious or complex injury. If so, part of this plan will include returning to work. ACC will let you know what s involved and how this ties in with the return to work plan you and your employee create together. Helpful resource: ACC individual rehabilitation plans (ACC1718) (this outlines the difference between a return to work plan and an ACC individual rehabilitation plan). Monitor your employee s return to work Helpful resource: Workplace monitoring (ACC1709). Contact ACC we re here to help ACC1695 Printed June 2008 Contact your organisation s ACC Account Manager or Injury Management Consultant Contact your employee s ACC Case Manager/ Coordinator Call ACC on am-5pm weekdays Alternatively, you can ACC information online

13 Helping employees get back to work Actions checklist This resource has been developed by ACC to assist you in dealing with the impact of injury. However, you may find this resource can be applied to situations where you have an employee off work because of illness. Completing this return to work actions checklist when one of your employees is injured will encourage an early, safe and sustainable return to work. This checklist can help you: Support your injured employee s return to work in a systematic way Keep on track with your employee s return to work Clarify roles and responsibilities in the return to work process Establish a culture where early return to work is the norm Carry out a post-return to work evaluation Update your policies and procedures so they cover key return to work actions. Foundation and support: Check Point If the injury was work related, did you ensure adequate medical attention was provided - eg. first aid, or access to an appropriate treatment provider if more serious? Did you make contact with your employee immediately after the injury, or as soon as you found out? Did your employee give you a medical certificate copy following their visit to the treatment provider? If the injury was work related, have you investigated the incident and taken steps to prevent a reoccurrence? Have you explained the return to work process to your employee? Comments: Yes/No N/A Location (where you keep your records)

14 Understanding the job and medical management: Check Point Have you assessed your workplace for potential suitable duties? Have you provided this information (work tasks and suitable duties) to your employee, their treatment provider/s and ACC? Have you got written consent from your employee to gather relevant medical information? You need written consent from your employee before you can request information from their treatment provider/s and/or ACC. Have you given a copy of the written consent to the treatment provider/s and/or ACC? Have you fully understood the information on your employee s medical certificate, or sought clarification? Did this include approval for your employee to participate in a return to work? Have you gained an understanding of your employee s injury, their capabilities and a timeframe for recovery? Have you reviewed your employee s job demands to see if their job can be modified, to allow them to return to work? Have you updated information during the return to work process eg. the dates, times and results of your employee s medical appointments? Comments: Yes/No N/A Location (where you keep your records) If a workplace assessment has been carried out: Check Point Have any return to work barriers identified by the assessor been addressed? Has the assessor reviewed your injured employee s capabilities against the demands of their job? Have all the actions specified in the workplace assessment been completed? Comments: Yes/No N/A Location (where you keep your records)

15 Input from those involved in the return to work process: Check Point Have you told your employee and their Manager/ Supervisor about their return to work rights and responsibilities? Have you consulted with your employee and their recovery team throughout the return to work process? Has your employee agreed to actively participate in their return to work plan? Has your employee s recovery team agreed to support the return to work plan? Comments: Yes/No N/A Location (where you keep your records) Rehabilitation planning: Check Point Have you determined that a return to work plan is needed? Have you developed a proposed return to work plan with input from those involved in the return to work process (face to face where possible)? In the case of an ACC-driven individual rehabilitation plan: Have you provided a copy of the proposed return to work plan and/or an overview of the job demands and potential suitable duties to the treatment provider/s and ACC? Is the workplace return to work plan aligned to the ACC individual rehabilitation plan? Have you told your employee who their workplace rehabilitation coordinator is? Comments: Yes/No N/A Location (where you keep your records)

16 Monitoring return to work: How to use this document Check Point Were regular meetings held with your employee and their recovery team to review: Goals and actions? Completion of agreed actions and duties? How your employee was coping during the initial stage/s of their return to work? How your employee was coping after being signedoff as fully fit? If your employee couldn t return to work straight away, was a link maintained with your work environment - eg. inviting your employee to social or training events? Comments: Yes/No N/A Location (where you keep your records) Continuous improvement: Check Point Have you documented what you learned from this return to work experience and included the information in your health and safety procedures? Comments: Yes/No N/A Location (where you keep your records) Other resources Creating a return to work plan (ACC1707) Identifying suitable duties (ACC1710) Medical certificates (ACC1719) Workplace monitoring (ACC1709) Contact ACC we re here to help ACC1706 Printed June 2008 Contact your organisation s ACC Account Manager or Injury Management Consultant Contact your employee s ACC Case Manager/ Coordinator Call ACC on am-5pm weekdays Alternatively, you can ACC information online

17 Helping employees get back to work Medical certificates This resource has been developed by ACC to assist you in dealing with the impact of injury. However, you may find this resource can be applied to situations where you have an employee off work because of illness. What is a medical certificate? A medical certificate is used if your employee needs time off work because of their injury. Only an authorised medical practitioner, such as a doctor, can issue a medical certificate. A medical certificate is a legal requirement, and ACC must receive one before any weekly compensation can be paid to your employee. How medical certificates help you with return to work A medical certificate can give you an understanding of your employee s injury and their ability to work. It will provide you with information about any restrictions they may have. You can use this information to match your employee s capacity to work with the duties you have available in your workplace. If you re not sure if the available duties are appropriate, the medical certificate gives you a basis for discussion. It also provides a point of contact so you can seek clarification with the treatment provider who completed the certificate. Tip For help identifying suitable duties see Identifying suitable duties (ACC1710). You can also contact your employee s ACC Case Manager/Coordinator, who may be able to arrange a workplace assessment (see Workplace assessments ACC1701). What to expect An ACC45 Injury Claim Form will be issued during your employee s first visit to a treatment provider. It also acts as an initial medical certificate, where a maximum of 14 days off work can be given The ACC45 form is used to lodge a claim with ACC Your employee will receive a copy of the ACC45 form to give to you An ACC18 Medical Certificate will be issued to your employee during subsequent visits to a treatment provider The ACC18 form describes how your employee s injury affects their capacity to work and any needs they may have Your employee will receive a copy of the ACC18 form to give to you.

18 What you can do Prior to writing a medical certificate, the more information the treatment provider has about the demands of your employee s job, the better they re able to determine your employee s capacity to perform usual or alternative duties. When writing a medical certificate, a treatment provider needs to know: The type of work the employee does The demands of the tasks the work involves What the employee s working conditions are like - eg. hot, noisy. Your employee may not cover all of these aspects because of the condition they re in, so it s a good idea to contact their treatment provider yourself. It may also be helpful to provide their treatment provider with a work type detail sheet (see Work type details ACC1704). ACC45 Injury Claim Form ACC uses this information to determine whether the claim can be accepted. The employer name and address are required for all work injuries (ACC must notify the employer) and all non-work injuries that involve time off work (ACC contacts the employer about earnings data and job security). The form must be signed and dated by both the authorised medical practitioner and the patient before it can be accepted by ACC (this includes an electronic signature). The employee s signature, in conjunction with the patient declaration on the reverse of the form, authorises the provider to lodge the claim with ACC and to release information to ACC and its agents.

19 The treatment provider will indicate the number of days required off work or your employee s ability to perform alternative duties and the nature of any restriction associated with safely returning to work. Indicates whether the next step is a return to work or a follow-up visit to review the injury. The date of follow-up or expected return to work should be given.

20 ACC18 Medical Certificate Work types Sedentary brief standing and walking. Light mainly standing and walking. Medium regularly lifts up to 10kg. Heavy regularly lifts up to 20kg. Very Heavy regularly lifts more than 20kg. Rehabilitation indicators 1. Condition expected to resolve quickly without assistance. 2. Some assistance may be needed but no problems expected. 3. Assistance required. Some factors may hinder progress. 4. Assistance required. Psychosocial lfactors? Need dfor Case Manager. 5. Significant rehabilitation required. Case Manager essential. To be Fully Unfit a person needs to be all of the following: 1. Not able to travel to and from work assisted or unassisted. 2. Not fit to be at a workplace. 3. Not fit to undertake specified tasks at a workplace or place of rehabilitation. Other resources Identifying suitable duties (ACC1710) Work type details (ACC1704) Workplace assessments (ACC1701) Contact ACC we re here to help Contact your organisation s ACC Account Manager or Injury Management Consultant Contact your employee s ACC Case Manager/ Coordinator Call ACC on am-5pm weekdays Alternatively, you can ACC1719 Printed June 2008 ACC information online

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