Supporting psychological injuries
Queensland Workers impacted by a work-related psychological injury can now access an independent advisory service to support their recovery while navigating the workers’ compensation process.
The Workers' Psychological Support Service provides free, non-technical advice and will connect them with existing community and social support services to help minimise the impact of their injury.
It includes emergency accommodation and housing support, family and domestic violence services, grief and loss support, financial counselling and social inclusion programs.
Workers can access the service prior to, during, or after they have made a workers’ compensation claim.
A social worker is available through face-to-face consultation as well as video and teleconferencing.
At the recent North Queensland Injury Prevention and Return to Work Conference, Dr Quentin Mungomery (Consultant Psychiatrist) shared his top 10 tips to help facilitate a successful return to work for psychologically injured workers:
- Be aware that injured workers often feel quite overwhelmed and helpless in the initial stages.
- Recognise the benefits of early positive engagement with workers about their claim and coordinated return to work planning involving all parties.
- Maintain an active listening, supportive approach balanced against goal directed activities.
- Establish proactive consistent communication with all parties.
- Provide oversight of care to clarify if the worker is getting adequate and appropriate evidence-based biopsychosocial treatment.
- Be mindful of the potential for unconscious bias affecting interactions with the worker.
- Be aware of the worker’s emotional reaction to you (as well as other parties) and your own emotional reaction to the worker.
- Attempt to maintain an impartial balanced approach in interactions with all parties involved rather than focusing on a specific outcome to the claim.
- Assist with basic problem-solving regarding the claim or RTW but avoid slipping into a therapeutic relationship with the worker.
- Maintain a focus on the mental health benefits of successful work rehabilitation for the worker.
Check out the North Queensland Injury prevention and Return to Work Conference website for Dr Mungomery’s full presentation and other speakers' insights.
icare have published initial insights from quarterly reporting provided by their independent actuaries, Finity.
Workers insurance claims have remained steady for three years to June 2018, at around 15,000 claims lodged per quarter.
The Finity report states that while the 2018 quarters show an initial increase in claims numbers, this is the result of notification only claims being included in the data from September 2017 onwards.
The report states that subsequent removal of notifications from the data means reported claim numbers ‘will remain broadly consistent with 2017 levels allowing for real wages growth’.
Management of claims related expenses
The latest data on workplace accidents in NSW shows a 10 per cent fall in 2018 for occupational rehabilitation payments made within five years of an accident and that during 2018 rehabilitation payments made within one year of accident were significantly lower than previous years, resembling 2014 levels.
The Finity Quarterly Monitoring report also shows legal payments have been lower across the five quarters from December 2017 to the end of 2018, with the most notable fall relating to disputes for weekly benefits with a duration greater than 12 weeks.
icare advise that they will continue to provide updates on key measures and data used to monitor the Nominal Insurer Scheme throughout the year.
WorkSafe ACT restructure
Following concerns from unions last year that folding the agency into Access Canberra in 2015 had softened its approach to work safety, the Nous group review was commissioned by Regulatory Services Minister Gordon Ramsay and Employment Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith.
The external review found the current governance model gave the workplace watchdog a low degree of autonomy, inspectors were confused about its educate and engage approach to compliance, and were under resourced to act strategically and lacked the resources to identify and respond to emerging work safety issues across different industries.
The review subsequently recommended WorkSafe be overhauled and a single commissioner instilled with the statutory authority to regulate workplace health and safety in the ACT.
Instead of its inspection activity being driven by data, the review found WorkSafe pursued audits reactively, based on the opinions of stakeholders and the preference of management.
The review also found WorkSafe ACT was disproportionately focusing its inspections on the construction industry.
Over half (56 per cent) of workplace visits in 2017-18 were to construction sites, even though the industry accounted for fewer than 20 per cent of private sector workers compensation claims in the same period.
In contrast, 40 per cent of total private sector claims occurred in the other industries singled out by the reviewers as deserving of attention – retail trade, accommodation and food services, professional scientific and technical services, healthcare and social assistance, and education and training.
They represented less than 20% of the workplace visits by an inspector over the same period.
The healthcare and social assistance sector had 614 claims in 2017-18 but WorkSafe only carried out nine visits. There were 2761 inspections in the construction industry in the same period and 653 claims.
Ms Stephen-Smith said the government had given in-principle support to all 27 recommendations of the review, including the structural reform.
VIC WorkSafe Initiative to assist with mental injuries
Under a new WorkSafe initiative, Victorian workers whose jobs put them at increased risk of mental injury are set to benefit from new knowledge sharing networks which will connect mental health experts with employers and workers to share the latest thinking on the best ways to facilitate mental health and safety at work.
Seven organisations have received initial funding from the WorkSafe WorkWell Learning Networks initiative, of which the key opportunities are:
- Link more than 2000 workplaces to collaborate on practical steps to prevent mental injury.
- Bring workers, experts and industry groups together to build workplaces that promote positive mental health and safety for all workers, but especially those who are most vulnerable
- Embed the latest thinking about mental health into industries and workplaces to improve workplace health and safety outcomes across the state
WorkSafe Health and Safety Executive Director Julie Nielsen said the networks would help create new ways to improve the lives of thousands of working Victorians.
The selected organisations will have the task of supporting workplaces in their industry as they adopt changes to cultures, policies, systems and behaviours to protect and promote mental health.
The selection was based on each organisation’s ability to reach and influence vulnerable worker groups including young workers, ageing workers, frontline workers and those in industries in transition.
You can view the selected organisations here.
In May TAVRP hosted their 3rd 'Dark side of rehab' symposium. This was a very successful day covering some hot and current topics.
Applying risk prevention and management in a stressful workplace
The president of the Police Association of Tasmania discussed the challenges faced by frontline staff/emergency responders including the inability to:
- Have complete clarity of the situation prior to exposure
- Respond with adequate staffing in remote and regional areas where the workforce is minimal
- Manage shift work where police are required to straddle an incident occurrence and the completion of the required inputs/investigations on site before finishing their shift, and gaining adequate rest and support before their next shift
- The increasing reliance on police to manage scenarios where the people involved have Mental Health issues compounded by the lack of community based services available to support the people’s mental health concerns
Assisting workers to see the light
The principal solicitor at Worker Assist spoke about the common concerns and misconceptions that injured workers have regarding the workers rehabilitation and compensation system.
Highlighting that this often is complicated by poor understanding by Employers and other key stakeholders.
Showcasing the health benefits of good work
The chair of the Workplace Engagement Committee for the health benefits of good work signatory steering committee, provided a presentation about the initiative and also the process to become a signatory, as well as the latest research being conducted in the 'good work' space and what constitutes 'good work'.
Ergonomics: Guiding the future of work 2020 and onwards
Adjunct Professor David Caple provided an update on the latest ergonomic principles and trends in relation to the virtual office, office design, future work roles and the practical application of hot desking – a current project underway for staff at Latrobe University.
Sedentary behaviour at work
Associate Professor Martin Mackey spoke about the lessons learned from the past 5 years and the implication for practice and work design.
Martin highlighted the methods to achieve balance to reduce the risk of associated diseases and illness as a result of being sedentary.
Stay tuned for the Dark side of rehab 4 – May 2020.
If you were unable to make the symposium, you can access a full review of the speakers and their presentations here.
RTW SA focussing on young worker safety
RTW SA recently looked into the health and safety of young workers. RTW SA Advised “While the health and safety of all workers is paramount, young workers are at increased risk of a workplace injury due to lack of experience and awareness of risks."
In South Australia 2,104 workers aged 15 to 24 were injured while at work and received income or medical support (FY 2017-18).”
This represents 16% of all worker injuries.
The top 5 types of young worker injuries in the South Australian Scheme for FY2017-20187 are:
- Laceration or wound (787)
- Soft tissue (675)
- Contusion, bruising and superficial crushing (15)
- Fracture (136)
- Foreign body on external eye, in ear or nose (117)
RTW SA further commented, “Young workers often can’t and don’t perceive when a situation becomes unsafe and may not always ask questions or speak up when they feel unsafe, especially if they are a newly employed trainee or apprentice. Young workers can also be more at risk in the workplace due to the effect of peer influence “.
To assist with keeping young workers safe, RTW SA recommends:
- Provide a safe and healthy workplace
- Provide personal protective equipment
- Provide an effective induction
- Identify safety gaps in the worker’s knowledge
- Provide the right information, training and supervision
- Provide continuous mentoring
- Communicate effectively and be sure they have understood their instructions
- Develop a positive workplace culture where they feel comfortable to speak up and ask questions
And to access the range of tools available on RTW SA’s young workers page.
APM are actively engaging with training and apprenticeship organisations within South Australia to support young workers in the workplace via a federally funded initiative aimed at keeping workers in work.
If you feel your organisation could benefit from this free service, please contact Amanda Wallace, SA State Manager today on 0438 692 924 or read more on Work Assist here.
WorkCover WA Conference 2019 – Facing Forward
WorkCover WA provided a platform for all parties within the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management fields to come together over two days in May.
The Conference was packed with interesting topics from The Evolution of the WA Workers' Compensation Scheme, Current and Future Challenges to topics on Mental Health to Telecommuting, with some notable speakers:
- Ms Niki Ellis, Occupational Health Expert, who co-developed and presented Stressbuster, a four-part series for ABC Television that focused on stress in the workplace presented on occupational health with regards to changing the way work is organised and people are managed.
- Mr Michael Crossland, Inspirational Speaker, who used his personal story to discuss the importance of resilience, optimism and determination.
- Mr Mark McCrindle, Social Researcher, discussed changing times and emerging trends.
- Professor Nick Haslam, Psychology Professor, examined generation motivators in the workplace.
- Mr Theo Venter, Injured Worker, provided insights into the impact of workplace injuries.
You can access these speaker presentations here.
The biannual Health Benefits of Good Work forum was held in Darwin in June
It was an industry forum of subject expert presentations, facilitated discussion, workshops and networking.
The theme was “Fostering Good Work in the Territory”, and brought together multiple stakeholders to discuss how good work affects small business and rural and remote employment as well as how improved access to good work for workers across Australia might be gained.
Dr Mary Wyatt spoke on the positive factors to increase Return to Work, highlighting how imperative positive employer response to injury and early contact from the workplace is to a positive return to work outcome.
Dr Wyatt referenced the 2017 Safe Work Australia statistics she contributed to, demonstrating that even though these aspects were key influencing factors, only 75% of physical and 27% of psychologically injured workers reported a positive employer response; and only 58% of physical (35% of psychologically) injured workers reported contact from their employer post injury.
APM NT Manager, Donna-Lee Mewburn, has continued as a member of the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Advisory Council. Key areas of work for the WRCAC currently include:
- National Return to Work Strategy: This strategy has been endorsed by Safe Work Australia, and endorsement will now be sought from the Ministers in each jurisdiction.
- National Certificate of Capacity: The draft certificate will be presented at the next GP workshop being held by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).
- A Review of the National Consistent Approval Framework for Workplace Rehabilitation providers