The Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR) recently hosted a forum for over 100 employers, industry representatives and healthcare professionals around what works when it comes to facilitating safe and effective return to work (RTW).

The health and economic benefits of safe, effective and early Return to Work (RTW) are now widely recognised. In Australia there is a growing emphasis on the value of work in maintaining and promoting good health as well as the economic importance of maintaining a healthy and productive workforce.

Last week, ISCRR hosted a forum for over 100 employers, industry representatives and healthcare professionals around what works when it comes to facilitating safe and effective Return to Work (RTW).

The forum presented evidence from four recent studies, three of which were funded by the Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA) via ISCRR These studies produced important findings focused on practical changes that positively influence Return to Work.

Professor Alexander Collie, ISCRR CEO said: "This Forum demonstrates an evidence base for safe and effective Return to Work in Australia. However there is still much more we can do to get Return to Work right for all employees."

He continued: "This research includes the whole spectrum of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention of workplace illness and injury. It shows that we need to take a combined approach to RTW, using a mix of approaches across service co-ordination, healthcare, and work modification,. Such combined approaches can be effective in reducing time lost during the RTW process."
"What supervisors say and do as part of the RTW process is also important. Employers need to have clear organisational policies to support supervisors alongside providing them with training and competency development early in their role. The importance of contact among supervisors, rehabilitation professionals and injured workers during the recovery stages of RTW is also key. Overall, the Forum demonstrated strong evidence that recovery expectation regarding RTW is predictive of work outcome and highlighted good communication in the RTW process is essential."

To conclude, the Forum an interactive panel discussion took place concentrating on best practice in RTW. This involved audience members and researchers. This aided participants in taking away a number of practical things implementable in their workplaces and interactions with injured workers.

'Where can employers act to improve RTW outcomes? An overview and results from a systematic review'
Professor Alex Collie, CEO, ISCRR
Employers have a critical role in the return to work process. In Australian work injury rehabilitation and compensation systems, we tend to focus our return to work efforts on workers who are detached from the workplace (off work). However, there are opportunities to influence RTW before the injured person leaves the workplace, and even before injuries occur. This presentation will provide an overview of these opportunities. The presentation will also describe the findings of a recent systematic review of international research evidence in this field conducted by ISCRR.

'What makes a supervisor, super?'
Dr Venerina Johnston, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, University of Queensland
This presentation is a summary of research recently completed in Australia which investigated the knowledge skills and behaviours required by supervisors to support staff returning to work after injury.

Recovery and return to work - what do you expect will happen?
Dr Ross Iles, Department of Physiotherapy, School of Primary Health Care, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University
There are many things that can make returning to work difficult - even expecting things to be tough can provide a major obstacle. Dr Iles will look at the evidence behind some strategies that mean RTW is more likely to be successful.

What promotes effective social problem solving during Return-To-Work?
Dr Richard Cooney, Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Management, Monash University
This presentation discusses the significance of good governance arrangements, shared understandings of the RTW process and the engagement of different groups of employees in successful Return-To-Work.

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