Think HBR

What happens when someone gets hurt at work?

Christian Byrnes

Australia takes its work health and safely obligations seriously but workers still have work related injuries. Once a workplace rehabilitation provider is engaged to assist in managing a return to work case…what happens?

After the referral process from the insurer/employer is completed an ‘initial assessment’ is undertaken. This involves an ‘initial interview’ and workplace assessment. The aim of the ‘initial interview’ is to introduce the process to the injured worker and their employer, collect background information on how the injury occurred, what treatment has been tried, what is the medical plan, what treatment providers are involved, and what is the current medical status.

The workplace aims to identify the key demands of the pre-injury role. Not only does it consider the physical demands such as posture, load, and the work environment; but also psychological and cognitive requirements. The workplace assessment will review potential suitable duties. The aim is to identify potential meaningful tasks that the injured worker can perform prior to them being fit to perform their pre-injury duties.

After identifying the workplace key demands the next stage is usually a nominated treating doctor conference. Under workers compensation system the NTD (Nominated Treating Doctor) is the general practitioner or specialist who is involved in the care of the injured worker and issues the certificate of capacity. The meeting with the doctor is a critical stage to gather information from a medical viewpoint. It also provides information to the doctor about the nature and demands of pre-injury duties and potential suitable duties.

In consultation with all parties, i.e. injured worker, employer, nominated treating doctor and agent/insurer, a return to work plan is developed to outline the strategy to assist with a safe, durable return to work.

It is the job of the workplace rehabilitation provider to support the other parties in monitoring the worker as they upgrade to their pre-injury duties. The provider may also undertake other assessments to determine the workers fitness for work, activities of daily living to determine if domestic assistance is required, and ascertain if certain aids and equipment may be required.

The return to work process is completed once the worker has been able to safely return to their pre-injury duties. Where this is not possible the workplace rehabilitation provider can provide support with the redeployment of the injured worker.

For further information please contact HumanRehab on (02) 4953 0300 or email


Christian Byrnes Christian Byrnes

Christian Byrnes is the Managing Director of HumanRehab, a workplace rehabilitation provider. As a qualified accredited Occupational Therapist he has over 12 years experience in the NSW workers compensation system. In addition to his degree in Occupational Therapy, he has a graduate certificate in OHS from Newcastle University and a graduate certificate in pain management from Sydney University.