Supporting workers with silicosis back on the road to employment

Valuable insights and expertise in vocational rehabilitation has led to promising return to work options for workers forced to end their career early due to the lung disease silicosis.

APM WorkCare has been supporting people in Victoria with silicosis to use their skills and experience find alternative employment, while maintaining their healthcare, through their return to work services.

In one recent case, an experienced Victorian stonemason was successfully supported to start a new career as a truck driver.

As a client referred to APM WorkCare for a Transferable Skills Analysis, he received a series of support actions including:

  • Engagement with a GP, health practitioners and family members
  • Vocational planning to identify viable employment options while meeting medical restrictions
  • Enrolment in training to gain required qualifications
  • Recovery plan which included adjustments to activities to manage concerns over COVID-19
  • Access to technology to carry out video interviews and job search activities
  • Linking with suitable local employers relevant with the training provided

Driving towards a new career

Philip Paysden, APM WorkCare General Manager, said the client was actively engaged with APM WorkCare to find out what new job options would suit best with his previous experience and his current personal and family life.

“APM WorkCare worked with the client to find out why he enjoyed being a stonemason.

“We found out it was being able to organise his time, workload, travel to different sites, and most importantly, interacting with other tradesmen and the community that really motivated him.

“Truck driving was a role we identified together which would provide him with the interaction and environment he enjoyed and leverage his experience and skills, plus it was a good fit for his home life requirements and medical circumstances.”

“Today he is still doing well and remains employed in Victoria despite the impact of recent COVID-19 restrictions,” Mr Paysden added.

How we support injured workers to stay in employment

APM WorkCare is actively engaged in research and innovation in the support available for people with silicosis and earlier this year APM Regional Manager Jon Ansell joined a panel at the Silicosis Summit.

The event held at Flemington Racecourse in February discussed the current support available and the options for people with the lung disease to move into alternative and safer employment.

Mr Ansell shared key insights from APM WorkCare’s expertise in supporting injured workers with silicosis.

“We detailed our best practice focus of how to retrain injured workers and remove them from environments where exposure to fine airborne particles could worsen symptoms and prognosis of the disease,” he said.

Invited by WorkSafe Victoria, APM WorkCare was the only occupational rehabilitation provider to join the summit.

A study of stonemasons

APM is also engaged in the WorkSafe research project looking at the links and key aspects of transmission and recovery of stonemasons diagnosed with silicosis.

Researcher Michelle Leembruggen, of the Research Insights and Innovation team, approached APM after being recommended from WorkSafe.

The aim of the study is to look at assisting in tying key insights and findings together with a plan for people with silicosis to better understand and support their return to work journey.

If you have a client or would like to know more about APM WorkCare’s return to work services, email workcare@apm.net.au.