Occupational asthma can trap some workers (and RTW and OHS professionals) in a catch-22 situation. Do you stay at work and manage the risk as best you can, or do you get out and potentially sacrifice income, social support and other good things that come from work?

This week, we look at research tackling the big question on occupational asthma: does reducing exposure to asthma agents help, or is eliminating exposure the only safe bet?

We also take on one of the darkest dimensions of work injury: increased rates of drug overdose and suicide amongst workers' compensation claimants. Research from the US confirms that workers who take more than a week off work are more prone to deaths of despair; what should we do with that knowledge?

We also provide you with a quick cheat sheet covering the latest data on national return to work outcomes, as recently released by Safe Work Australia. 

And we sign off on an optimistic note, with Anna Kelsey-Sugg talking us through ten tips for improving workplace culture.

Happy reading!

 


How is Australia tracking in RTW?

   

 RTWMatters team

A quick look at return to work data released by Safe Work Australia in 2019

“Serious claim” is a term used by Safe Work Australia to describe workers' compensation claims that require one or more weeks off work. Australia is seeing fewer of these serious claims each year. Over the last ten years (from 2007-08) the rate of serious claims in Australia has dropped by 30%. We’ll refer to these types of claims simply as “claims” throughout the rest of this article.


Top ten easy steps for improving workplace culture

   

 Anna Kelsey-Sugg

Good workplace culture fosters loyal employees who want to remain at their workplace.

Workplace culture encapsulates everything about your work environment: the set up, the atmosphere, how it makes you feel, the interactions you have, the work you do there – everything. A good workplace culture can make a business thrive - a bad one, well, get used to negative watercooler gossip, frustrated employees, presenteeism, lower productivity and all round unhappiness. Here are ten tips for a better workplace culture.


Work injury and deaths of despair

         

 Gabrielle Lis

Research from the US confirms the link between work absences of more than a week and deaths from drug overdose and suicide

Workers who need more than a week off work following injury are more prone to deaths of despair, such as suicide and drug overdose, than those with brief absences. We need to better identify and treat post-injury depression and substance use disorders, and provide more mental health support for injured workers. The period following workplace injury can be a time of great vulnerability for the injured worker.


Clearing the air at work

   

 Gabrielle Lis

Can workplace interventions ease occupational asthma? Are there benefits to reducing risk factors at work, or is eliminating exposure the only safe bet?

In an updated Cochrane Review of interventions for occupational asthma, researchers found that eliminating exposure to workplace agents (i.e. things that cause asthma) brings the greatest improvements in terms of asthma symptoms. Eliminating exposure also helps lung function. Reducing exposure also improves asthma symptoms – e.g. introducing personal protective equipment or raising knowledge and awareness amongst workers.



National News

Wisdom gleaned whilst recovering from depression

Published on December 03, 2019

Whether you suffer from depression yourself, or simply support others who do, this article written by Jennifer Wong and published on ABC Life is enlightening. Wong writes about the non-linear road to recovery, the need for social support and simple pleasures, and also shares tools that have worked for her in managing (not eradicating) her depression. 


World News

When it comes to physical activity and cardiovascular risk, some work hurts

Published on December 03, 2019

Exercise more, we hear. It'll be good for your heart! But it may not be as simple as that, as new, very complex research makes clear(ish). Challenging, repetitive physical activity performed at work may actually increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, medical researchers have found, because it impacts the body differently than sport and leisure activities. 


QLD News

Legislative changes in QLD - what you need to know

Published on December 03, 2019

If you're in Queensland, you may be wondering how the recent changes to workers' compensation legislation will impact you. Anna Hendry of Hopgood Ganim has distilled key messages for Queensland businesses. Overall, she expects to see more claims for psychological injury, and greater obligations to provide appropriate support for claimants, especially those with psychiatric claims. 


VIC News

Vic ombudsman continues to champion claimants and condemn WorkCover

Published on December 03, 2019

We don't normally quote extensively from media releases, but this one is so clear and succinct we're going to do just that...

Victoria’s WorkCover scheme is failing to deliver just outcomes for long term injured workers, inflicting a huge emotional toll on them, their families and wider society, Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass has found.

Ms Glass said WorkSafe agents – five commercial bodies who manage WorkCover claims on behalf of WorkSafe – are continuing to make unreasonable decisions, in some cases for financial incentives.

“The system is failing to deliver just outcomes to too many people. WorkSafe agents continue to make unreasonable decisions, the dispute process can be time consuming, stressful and costly, and WorkSafe is too often unwilling or unable to deal,” Ms Glass said.

She's just released a follow-up to her scathing 2016 report. We'll cover it in detail next newsletter.



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Tue 10th Dec 2019, 9:00 am

VCCI, Level 2, 150 Collins Street Melbourne VIC 3000

Introduction To Workcover Management

A basic understanding of the WorkCover scheme, including how to manage claims and implement strategies by working with an Authorised WorkCover Agent.



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

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Specific knowledge and skills to actively undertake the role of a WRP consultant, in accordance with the requirements of the SRC Act. The program outlines Comcare's return to work model, legislation, procedural aspects of the return to work proce



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Specific knowledge and skills to actively undertake the role of a WRP consultant, in accordance with the requirements of the SRC Act. The program outlines Comcare's return to work model, legislation, procedural aspects of the return to work proce



Wed 29th Jan 2020, 9:00 am

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Comcare Scheme: Workplace Rehabilitation Provider Training

Specific knowledge and skills to actively undertake the role of a WRP consultant, in accordance with the requirements of the SRC Act. The program outlines Comcare's return to work model, legislation, procedural aspects of the return to work process.


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