Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s) are the leading cause of workers compensation claims, often resulting from hazardous manual tasks.
MSD’s are also a common cause of disability, however it doesn’t have to mean that you need time off, or need to stop activity, and that seat doesn’t need to be empty. Whilst we know there are other factors to consider here, it helps to have an understanding of what Suitable Duties may look like.
What are Suitable Duties?
Photo by Nathan Riley on Unsplash
Suitable duties are meaningful duties that an injured worker can safely perform while they are recovering from an injury or illness. Suitable duties should aim to facilitate a workers return to work following injury in a way that accommodates their medical condition and restrictions, and may need to consider:
- The opinion of treating doctors and providers
- The workers pre-injury duties
- Training opportunities
- The workers skills, education and training, and
- Any aids or equipment that may assist recovery whilst at work
Simplifying suitable duties
When looking at opportunities to keep injured workers engaged in suitable work, this could involve:
- Changes to hours/days of work or modifying their work schedule
- Modification to duties – they may be able to perform some parts of their usual role, or may need to adjust the way they would normally perform the tasks
- Different jobs/tasks if unable to perform tasks within their usual role
- Change in workplace or environment including working from home where feasible
- Job Rotation
- Aids & Equipment to assist completion of tasks
- Training opportunities
- Or a combination of the above
Suitable duties are intended to be temporary, time-limited and regularly reviewed. They should be upgraded as an injured worker recovers from their injury. It is however important to note that specific duties will depend on the nature of the injury, medical advice provided and the requirements of the job, and suitable duties cannot be a one size fits all approach.
With the above in mind, in most cases injured workers can recover whilst remaining at work in some capacity, and this often helps their recovery with the known health benefits of work, including:
- Keeping physically and mentally active on days of work
- Providing structure and routine to days/weeks
- Providing a sense of purpose and contribution to family and society
- Providing a level of financial security
- Enhancing connection to community and social inclusion
- Decreasing likelihood of engaging in negative lifestyle choices or behaviours
How can we help?
Here at Precision Physio, we value the workplace as part of our clients rehabilitation, and understand the health benefits of work. We have a work-focused approach, and partner with our clients, their Employers and GP’s to help guide a safe and positive recovery at work. Our teams of Physiotherapists and Exercise Physiologists will provide impartial and objective measures of our clients functional capacity to help you plan suitable duties. We tailor goals to achieve optimum recovery and therefore a positive return to work, and return to activity.
So although having an injury and workers compensation claim can feel overwhelming at times, the best approach is to foster a positive RTW experience, by considering how you may be able to accommodate the needs of your workers. Employers and injured workers should work together with their support team to determine the most appropriate and effective suitable duties plan.
At Precision Physio, we have Physiotherapists and Exercise Physiologists who understand the needs of our clients and businesses we extend services to. To learn more about our services and how we can work with you, call us today to schedule a discussion with our WC Business Development & Account Manager, Petrina Lobo:
- Precision Physio Concord: 02 9736 3950
- Precision Physio St Marys: 02 9623 2220
- Precision Physio Mt Druitt: 02 9188 2552
Evolving with the current environment, we are also now offering online appointments, meaning that we can support anyone who is unable to leave their home. Sessions are done via our state of the art Telehealth system and as long as you have a laptop or tablet with an inbuilt camera, or a phone with camera, we can help!
To learn more about online consultations, please call us on any of the numbers listed above.