Injured or ill workers can expect different Return to Work (RTW) outcomes based on the compensation system they access. ISCRR has commenced an exciting new project that will analyse these differences in order to identify effective and efficient return to work policy.
In Australia alone, there are ten major public compensation systems in operation, assisting more than 200,000 workers with their claims and RTW process on an annual basis.
There is, however, relatively little evidence of what works and does not work to facilitate effective return to work within these various schemes.
A research team led by ISCRR CEO Professor Alex Collie hopes to change this, by comparing return to work outcomes across nineAustralian workers' compensation systems, as well as schemes operating in New Zealand.
Dubbed the "ComPARE Project" (Compensation Policy and Return to Work Effectiveness Project) this research is the first detailed investigation of the comparative effectiveness of return to work policy and practice.
The research is made possible through a partnership with Safework Australia and with the involvement of nine Australian workers' compensation authorities
The ComPARE project has delivered an Introductory Report, which confirms that compensation scheme policy has a major impact on the duration of time away from work experienced by Australian workers. The magnitudeof this impact is equal or greater than that of other factors like ageing and mental health, which are already commonly acknowledged to be highly influential in return to work.
The second report examines 2004–2014 national claims data to explore differences and trends in the rate of claims and average time off work. The report found that while the incidence of claims is declining, time off work is increasing. Other notable findings are that mental health claims have more time off work than any other condition and female workers have smaller proportions of their work-related injuries compensated.
Where to now?
The project will produce a series of short reports on areas of interest determined by the program committee which is made of state and territory compensation schemes and other parties.
The first short report, Compensation claims among nurses and ambulance officers, looked at comparing the rates and types of compensation claims made by the two industries. The report found that ambulance officers are 5-7 timesmore likely to be injured than other workers and that both industries have a high incidence of musculoskeletal injury.