RTW Knowledge Base
RTW Knowledge Base
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The issue for insurers

The issue for insurers


Return to work

The National Occupational Health and Safety Commission (NOHSC) estimated the total economic cost of workplace injuries is in excess of $31 billion annually or 4.3% Gross Domestic Product. They also indicated that the degrees of pain, suffering and changed life circumstances of workers and their families are immeasurable.[1].

Most people with a work-related condition return to work quite quickly, but a significant minority are absent for a long time. Some remain off work permanently. These chronic
chronic
continuing a long time or recurring frequently
 cases account for most of the costs of work-related illness and injury - both in terms of medical and indemnity expenses, and the damage to individuals' health and quality of life.

When an injury or illness requires sick leave, taking time off work becomes an issue in itself. Significant research shows that work is good for health and an important part of rehabilitation
rehabilitation
The process of helping a person back to their former abilities and quality of life (or as close as possible) after injury or a medical condition.
 after an illness or injury. What's more, the longer someone takes off work, the less likely they are to return. After a few months off, the chance of ever returning to work is slim.

In many cases, missed work, long-term sick leave and disability
disability
A condition or function that leaves a person unable to do tasks that most other people can do.
 can be actively avoided; they are not inevitable. The research shows that the severity of a person's medical condition is not the most important factor in whether or not they return to work.

The approach to treatment, the response of the employer, decisions made in the workplace, the employee's experience of the compensation system, and the beliefs and attitudes of the people involved are some of the most important influences on recovery and return to work.

Insurers – along with medical professionals, workers, employers and occupational health and safety experts – have the ability to improve return to work outcomes. Claims managers play an active role in cases and outcomes and have a unique opportunity to influence those involved with return to work management.

This website provides scientifically-supported information about the best approach to treatment, management, prevention and risk-reduction. Research papers have been translated into an easy-to-read format. They provide up-to-date objective evidence with recommendations for managing a personal injury or illness, best-practice in the workplace or medical clinic, and important factors in workers' compensation claims. The overall aim is to arm people with the knowledge to prevent and respond to injury and illness in the most effective way possible, which in turn will reduce sick leave and improve return to work.

Dr Mary Wyatt- Chair Knowledge Base Project Team.





[1] Productivity Commission (2004). National Workers' Compensation and Occupational Health and Safety Frameworks. Canberra, Commonwealth of Australia.



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