In New South Wales, the WorkCover Authority of NSW administers and oversees work health and safety, workers compensation insurance and benefits, and the sustainable return to work of injured workers.
If you are injured at work, WorkCover NSW oversees the management of your injury. Injury management is about ensuring your prompt, safe and durable return to work. Injury management includes:
- treatment of your injury,
- rehabilitation and return to work plans,
- retraining you in a new skill or new job, if necessary,
- management of your workers compensation claim, and
- the employment practices of your employer, where appropriate.
Everyone involved is required to cooperate and participate in injury management, including you, your employer, the insurer, your nominated treating doctor and all other treating practitioners.
The early return to work of injured workers is a central feature of the workers compensation system in New South Wales. It is recognised that the best place to rehabilitate injured workers is in the workplace. Activities undertaken at work promote a quicker recovery and are generally more therapeutic than only receiving treatment away from the workplace. It also allows for the early identification of any issues and the development of strategies to overcome them.
Nominated Treating Doctor
Your nominated treating doctor will usually be your GP. He or she will liaise with everybody involved in your treatment and will provide your WorkCover medical certificates and other information to your employer and insurance company.
At the Hand Centre, we work closely with your nominated treating doctor and all other people involved in the management of your injury to ensure that your treatment and return to work progresses as smoothly as possible. If your hand surgeon is the first practitioner to treat you, often he or she will provide your initial WorkCover certificate, and then will provide all subsequent treatment information to your nominated treating doctor. Your hand surgeon will also respond directly to any requests for further information from your insurer and liaise with other practitioners (including hand therapists) to ensure appropriate care.
Workplace Rehabilitation Providers
Depending on the nature and severity of your injury, a workplace rehabilitation provider may be engaged to help you return to work. Rehabilitation providers are specially trained:
- to identify suitable duties,
- to coordinate rehabilitation strategies,
- to integrate all injury management activities,
- to arrange appropriate retraining, and
- to promote an early return to work.
Your employer, insurer, nominated treating doctor or other treating practitioner may recommend a rehabilitation provider, but it is the insurer who engages the provider and pays for the service.
If your employer has a large number of employees or is self-insured, you may be assigned a return to work coordinator to help you return to work. A return to work coordinator is employed or contracted by your employer to assist injured workers to remain at or return to work in a safe and durable manner after being injured. The return to work coordinator will ensure that your employer’s return to work program and your individual return to work plan is properly implemented.
Returning to Work
Many factors influence the timing of your return to work, including your age, your occupation, the nature of your injury and your personal circumstances. You may be away from work for only a few days, or it may be months. You may have ongoing treatment such as hand therapy while you continue to work. You may need to undertake different or lighter duties and/or shorter hours during your period of recovery (usually referred to as ‘suitable duties’). You may return to different duties, depending on the nature of your injury and the level of hand function you achieve following treatment.
If your injury is severe, you will work with your nominated treating doctor, your rehabilitation provider, your employer, the insurer and other treating practitioners to develop a return to work plan.