Work design can feel like a bit of a luxury, maybe because it sounds almost like designer work: as if we were aiming for Gucci levels of fit and fabulousness in every role. 

In a recent webinar, Meredith Carr dispels that notion, providing clear and simple guidelines for using work design principles to promote RTW.

This week we also share part two in our series of feelings of injustice, honing in on the substantial negative impacts blame has on health.

Anne Richey has created a comprehensive list of conflict management tips for those in managerial roles. Those dealing with blame-focused workers might find these invaluable too...

Finally, we revisit an excellent article that looks at the common problem of musculoskeletal problems accompanied by anxiety and / or depression. Anna Kelsey-Sugg has suggestions for how you can assist workers facing this double trouble scenario.

Happy reading!

Webinar recording: A work-design focused Return to Work process


 Meredith Carr

Meredith Carr discusses how to effectively implement a work-design focused RTW process and the benefits that are gained by adopting evidence-based work design principles.

About the webinar Often the response to changes in an employee’s capabilities is to provide them with simplified and unchallenging tasks leaving them unable to utilise their once valued and unique knowledge, skills and abilities. Adopting a work design approach to the Return to Work process, gives a holistic and tailored view of what matters for the returning employee and their organisation.

Management tips: Resolving conflict in the workplace


 A. Richey

Unresolved conflict can cause many problems in the workplace. Don't let it!

Developing effective conflict resolution skills is important, particularly for leaders. Good conflict resolution skills tends to lead to good employee retention, a healthier and safer working environment, higher productivity and a happier workforce. Queensland government research has found that up to 30% of a typical manager’s time is spent on dealing with disputes, so the better a manager is able to resolve conflict, the more time they will have to spend on other matters.

Injustice in return to work: part 2


 Stefanie Garber

A sense of unfairness may lead to worse health outcomes for injured workers.

“Life’s not fair,” as our parents used to say. Injured workers know this all too well. A momentary slip-up can lead to years of suffering. According to Michael Sullivan and his team from McGill University, this sense of injustice may lead to worse health outcomes for injured workers. Sullivan’s research suggests that a sense of injustice correlates with longer disability and increased pain levels.

Musculoskeletal problems with anxiety / depression - double trouble.


 Anna Kelsey-Sugg

People with musculoskeletal disorders and accompanying depression or anxiety have reduced levels of workforce participation. Tailored return-to-work programs that offer more intensive and continuous levels of support may help.

Take Home Messages / Tools: People with musculoskeletal disorders and who are simultaneously depressed or anxious are less likely to participate in the workforce than those with either of these disorders alone. Return-to-work programs for these groups should be tailored to include coordinated assessment and treatment of both the psychosocial and physical factors associated with their disorders. Why the research matters: Musculoskeletal conditions are a leading cause of work-related disability.

World News

Depression, anger, anxiety: Cutting back on opioids unleashes the beast

Published on July 24, 2019

Opioid dependency and overuse are dangerous side-effects of some workplace injuries, but cutting back on opioids is no picnic either. On top of the physical symptoms of withdrawal, many injured workers will experience psychological difficulties too. The reason? Opioids flood the brain with feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and seratonin, so the brain stops producing its own. When you reduce or eliminate the external source, it takes a while for the brain to restart its own supply chain. Meanwhile, the person trying to do the right thing by cutting back on opioids lacks the chemical ingredients to feel good. Leaving some feeling very, very bad.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, exercise, meditation and kicking (real or metaphoric) goals can help, as can exposing yourself to nice things.  Think music, delicious smells and (if you can manage it) laughter. 

Injured workers cutting back on opioid use may well need additional support as they go through this tricky - but definitely worthwhile - process. Let them know help is out there, and encourage them to take charge of the situation.

Crowd-funding success for a film about mind-body treatments for chronic pain

Published on July 24, 2019

With an Indiegogo campaign that exceeded its original target and a filmmaker sharing his own - and other's - stories of recovery from chronic pain, new documentary This Might Hurt has a grassroots, genuine and relatable feel.

The film follows Dr. Howard Schubiner’s work with several long term chronic pain patients.  

While we have some reservations about the strength of the claims made about the mind-body treatments on offer, there's no doubt that they do help some patients. This Might Hurt is a resource to consider, if you work with patients or claimants plagued by unexplained chronic pain.

Robust survey identifies work factors linked to lower risks of mental illness and positive mental well-being

Published on August 12, 2019

An Institute for Work and Health study has added to an increasing body of evidence identifying work conditions linked with lower risks of mental illnesses amongst workers. 

Job control, job security and support at work are all factors that help to reduce the risks of anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses. 

What’s more, this study also found that the same work conditions are linked to the likelihood of workers experiencing positive mental well-being and life satisfaction. 

Lead researcher on the study, Senior Scientist and Associate Scientific Director Dr. Peter Smith said: “This study highlights the double value of workplace policies and practices that improve psychosocial working conditions by giving workers greater job control, job security or social support”.

NSW News

Regional injured workers face delays in claim approvals and delivery on approved works

Published on August 13, 2019

NSW regional workers are losing out in a complex city-based system that has seen claimants such as Caroline Harte of Central West NSW wait over 12 months for approved accessibility modifications to be completed. 

While she waits, Caroline who is confined to her bed, has made do with a portable toilet and shower. She is completely dependent on her family and is unable to take part in her rehabilitation. 

A report from WIRO – the NSW Government’s independent workers compensation review body – confirms increased disputes and delays in approving insurance claims are the result of complex laws. 

While the system has been reviewed several times by The Government over the past decade, Greens MP David Shoebridge is calling for an overhaul that provides fair benefits that reduce the disruption to injured workers lives. 

Featured Resources

August webinar: The challenge of bullying - the negative consequences and effective responses

Michael Plowright, Working Well Together. 20th August 2019 3pm AEST. Click the link to register.

Workers Compensation employee research survey

A Research Study into Compassion Fatigue and Worker Wellbeing of Workers Compensation employees - Contribute via this 15 minute survey

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Upcoming Events
Wed 28th Aug 2019,

Oaks Oasis Caloundra, 2 Landsborough Parade, Caloundra Qld 4551

Visions Conference 2019

Visions 2019 provides the perfect opportunity to network with your peer group while experiencing contemporary and best-practice OHS solutions showcased by fellow safety professionals.

Wed 28th Aug 2019,

Crown Conference Centre, Crown Promenade, Crown Melbourne, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank VIC 3006

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SAFETYconnect 2019 will feature a two day, dual stream conference run by the NSCA Foundation, and a premium exhibition featuring over 40 leading vendors.

Thu 29th Aug 2019,

CGU office, 37-41 Ryrie Street, Geelong

Role of Return to Work Training - Geelong

This two day interactive workshop will provide participants with practical tools to ensure they have the appropriate skills and knowledge to assist injured workers return to work in a timely, safe and sustainable manner.

Tue 10th Sep 2019,

Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre

Safety in Action: The Return to Work Conference

Supporting our workers towards safe, productive and sustainable return to work

Mon 16th Sep 2019,

Crown Convention Centre Perth, Great Eastern Hwy, Burswood, Perth WA 6100

NDS WA Conference 2019

The conference will provide a forum to consider and share what matters most for the disability sector and people with disability into the future; featuring local and national speakers.

Mon 16th Sep 2019,

BCEC, Merivale St & Glenelg Streets, South Brisbane QLD 4101

AHRI National Convention and Exhibition 2019

Australia’s largest HR event featuring global HR experts and leaders, and a 100+ stand exhibition showcasing the latest products and services in HR.

Thu 19th Sep 2019,

CGU Centre, 181 William Street, Melbourne CBD, VIC, 3001

Advanced Workcover and RTW Management - PART 1

Practical strategies to work through the most complex RTW and liability issues

Thu 17th Oct 2019,

CGU Centre, 181 William Street, Melbourne CBD, VIC, 3001

Mental Health First Aid Training

This course teaches adults how to assist other adults who are experiencing a mental health crisis or developing a mental health problem.

Thu 17th Oct 2019,

The Adelaide Zoo, Figtree Conference Facility, Frome Road, Adelaide SA 5000

2019 SA Safety Symposium

The SIA SA Branch is pleased to announce the 2019 South Australia Safety Symposium: "Major developments in work health and safety regulation and practice"

Wed 23rd Oct 2019, 9:00 am

Monash Public Health and Preventive Medicine, 553 St Kilda Road, Melbourne VIC 3004

Return to Work: Evidence and Innovation

This 2-day course, led by Monash University’s Insurance Work and Health Group, provides an overview of current evidence and innovation regarding return to work policy and practice.

Thu 31st Oct 2019,


NT 8th Annual WHS Symposium 2019

The conference program includes engaging speakers with practical, real life and Territory relevant case studies to assist NT business.

Sun 04th Oct 2020,

Toronto, Canada

XXII World Congress on Safety and Health at Work 2020

Global Forum for Prevention









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