You've probably all had the thought: "Ok, I believe you're hurt - I just don't believe it happened here."

Questioning the work-relatedness of an injury or illness is par for the course for RTW professionals, but verbalising such doubts is often a bad idea. What should you do when suspicion strikes? This week, Dr Wyatt -pragmatic, sensible and wise as always - shares her take on the best way to manage workers who have been injured, but not at work.

Return to Work Matters' resident occupational physician has also been busy tackling a big-ticket workers' compensation item: musculoskeletal conditions. Dr Wyatt is a world expert in this field, so you'll want to tune in for the first in a three part webinar, answering common questions about this common problem.

We share research on return to work after lower limb amputation, with the aim of helping you identify workers who may really struggle to get back to work after life-changing injury.

Finally, we channel some Disney darkness to remind you that “Who’s the fairest?” matters to compensation recipients. In fact, claimants in less adversarial compensation systems not only report less unfairness; they also have better health outcomes.

As long as they don't go eating any poisoned apples, obviously.

Happy reading!


Webinar recording: Understanding musculoskeletal problems - Part 1: Introduction


 Dr Mary Wyatt

In part one of a three part series, Dr Wyatt covers the basics of musculoskeletal conditions, including difficulties employees face.

About the webinar Problems arising from the musculoskeletal system are common in the community. Studies tell us that over 50% of adults have long term soreness arising from a component of their musculoskeletal system. Musculoskeletal problems, or conditions that affect the muscles and ligaments and adjacent structures, can be frustrating to deal with. They are common problems that sometimes get better quickly and sometimes hang around for decades.

Case Study: Injured, but not at work. What to do?


 Dr Mary Wyatt

Workers with injuries sustained away from work may be tempted to protect their financial interests by lodging a compensation claim anyway. Dr Wyatt describes how support and boundaries can help.

Joe, a 45-year-old storeman, fractured his left thumb in an injury mowing his lawn at home. A thumb fracture can take months to heal. Six weeks after Joe's accident, his specialist cleared him to return to modified duties, not lifting over 10 kg. Joe rang the human resources department, keen to resume work. He had run out of sick leave within two weeks of his injury. This prompted the workplace to consider how they should deal with injuries not caused by work.

After amputation, who might struggle to RTW?


 Gabrielle Lis

Returning to work after the amputation of a leg or foot takes time. Older workers struggle more, as do those who report lower quality of life. Amputation point matters too.

Key messages Recovery from amputation takes time. Physical and quality of life factors both play a role in readiness to return to work. Signs that a worker may struggle to return to work after foot or leg amputation include: Older age; The amputation occurs above the knee; The person does not use a prosthetic; and The person is struggling to resume other normal activities. Access to appropriate prosthetics may help people who've had a leg or foot amputated return to work, although not always to the same job.

Mirror, mirror


 Gabrielle Lis

“Who’s the fairest?” matters to compensation recipients. Researchers find associations between reduced adversarialism, greater perceived fairness and better health.

Injured people who receive compensation face an uphill battle to recovery compared to those who go without. Researchers don’t yet agree on the reasons for the compensation disadvantage – it’s an area of ongoing study and debate. There are two main theories: either claimants (consciously or not) prolong their own disability to secure continued access to compensation, or the compensation process itself causes stress, resulting in delayed recovery.

National News

How to reject ageism and promote wellbeing and productivity for all

Published on April 05, 2019

Aaron Goonrey and Jenni Mandel of Lander and Rogers law firm strongly believe that older workers should be nurtured - not stigmatised.

Stereotypes limit everyone. If you're wedded to the idea that older workers are set in their ways and on their way out the door anyway, you're likely missing opportunities for passing valuable knowledge from one generation of workers to the next.You're also probably holding back on flexibility options that can help keep older workers safe and productive on the job. 

So follow the link and get woke - no matter how old or young you are...

World News

Older workers more at risk from opioids

Published on March 29, 2019

Opioids are commonly prescribed to injured workers and although they can help with pain management they also come with a host of risks and side-effects, including addiction and misuse. Follow the link to access the summary of a recent webinar hosted by  Dr Teresa Bartlett for the Disability Management Employer Coalition. 

Dr Bartlett describes what to expect in people on chronic opioid treatment (" don't find them to be particularly happy people because those parts of their brains are literally blocked...") as well as a super unfortunate potential side-effect known as hyperalgesia, which actually increases sensitivity to pain. (If someone tells you they feel like their skin is crawling, this could be why.)

Opioids are particularly bad news for older workers - the medication can actually cause dementia and memory loss, and it's metabolised differently than in younger patients, putting the kidney and liver at risk.

If you work in RTW or workers' compensation, it's important to have these risks on your radar. 

What should mental health professionals know about pain?

Published on April 05, 2019

Most mental health professionals aren't experts on pain but psychiatric researchers Sara Edmond, Alicia Heapy and Robert Kearns believe they should all be worded-up enough to incorporate the following pain management techniques into treatment, as appropriate: "assessing pain, incorporating pain into case conceptualizations and treatment plans, and reinforcing the biopsychosocial model of pain by encouraging adaptive pain self-management practices (ie, general health-promoting behaviors, as well as specific behaviors, such as activity pacing and mental relaxation) and participation in evidenced-based pain treatments". There are more details in an excellent article they've written for highly reputable journal JAMA Psychiatry.



WA News

New FIFO mental health code of practice

Published on April 09, 2019

Nearly four years after the West Australian Legislative Assembly Education and Health Standing Committee tabled its final report on the impact of fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) work practices
on mental health, the Commission for Occupational Safety and Health and the Mining Industry Advisory Committee have published a code of practice for mentally healthy workplace for FIFO workers.

Aimed at the resources and construction sectors, the code of practice "provides guidance on how to address psychosocial hazards and risk factors as part of established risk management processes and systems".  Follow the link to access the document.

Featured Resources

May webinar: The pros and cons of self insurance in work injury insurance

Robin Shaw, 14th May 2019 3pm AEST. Click here to register

June webinar: A work-design focused Return to Work process.

Meredith Carr, 18th June 2019 3pm AEST. Registrations open mid-May. Visit our webinar page for all past recordings.

Video: How to get the most out of RTWMatters

Dr Mary Wyatt gives and introduction to the resources available with tips on how to get the most out of your membership

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Click here to find out more about membership options.

Upcoming Events
Tue 30th Apr 2019,

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

Role of Return to Work Training - CGU

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.

Wed 01st May 2019,

ANZ Stadium, Edwin Flack Ave, Sydney Olympic Park NSW

NSW HR Leaders Summit 2019

In times of change and disruption, HR leadership is critically needed to drive engagement, progress and innovation in the new world of work.

Wed 08th May 2019,

Pan Pacific Perth, 207 Adelaide Terrace, Perth WA 6000

Workcover WA Conference 2019 - Facing Forward

Over two days, 8 and 9 May 2019, the Conference will showcase dynamic presentations from leading thinkers and experts in the field.

Wed 08th May 2019,

Pan Pacific Hotel, Perth

WorkCover WA Conference 2019 - Register your interest

The Conference theme, ‘Facing Forward’ extends an injury management focus to broader themes relevant to workers' compensation. The inevitable change of tomorrow will be explored and speakers will inspire you to adopt the necessary skills

Thu 16th May 2019,

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

Advanced Workcover and RTW Management - PART 2

Part two of the Advanced RTW Management course discusses more complex cases and scenarios and a follow on from Part one

Wed 22nd May 2019,

International Convention Centre,14 Darling Dr, Sydney, NSW

Safetyscape 2019

The 2nd annual # SAFETYSCAPE Convention will provide a platform where safety related ideas and insights can be shared and made relevant to an audience to the entire Health & Safety community.

Wed 22nd May 2019,

International Convention Centre, 14 Darling Drive, Sydney NSW

SIA National Health and Safety Conference 2019

As part of the #SAFETYSCAPE Convention, the conference will bring together stakeholders across the health and safety profession to discuss some of the challenges currently faced by WHS professionals and practitioners

Wed 29th May 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.









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