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All employers play a crucial role in the prevention and management of workplace injuries.
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Information for Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, Nurses, Exercise Physiologists and Doctors.
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Home » Health Professionals » General Information » The treatment and rehabilitation team

The treatment and rehabilitation team


The Treatment Team


After  the injured worker has visited their doctor, tests may be ordered to clarify the nature and extent of your health issue.  This will also help  to determine a diagnosis and the appropriate treatment plan.  The NTD may also refer to a medical specialist or an allied health professional such as a chiropractor, physiotherapist or psychologist, depending on the nature and severity of the work related injury or illness.


These allied health professional are part of the worker’ “treatment team”. Their focus is on providing treatment that will allow their body or mind to heal as quickly as possible so they can return to their pre-injury job.  It is worth pointing out that about 85% of all work place injuries resolve within 2 weeks, the implications being that the majority of claimants will have limited need for referrals to specialists or allied health professionals, and when and if they do, the number of treatments they require will be minimal.


For the remaining 15% or so of work injuries the situation surrounding the injury or treatment is likely to be more complex. The injury might be more severe or complex - i.e. incorporating both physical and psychological injuries.  There may be problems with accessing diagnostic procedures - e.g. there may be lack of approval for services by the insurer.  Sometimes, suitable duties may not be offered or available by the pre-injury employer which can lead to a delay in recovery and claim closure because the NTD is likely to be hesitant to certify the worker as fully fit for pre-injury unless the workers functioning  and pain management levels are tested in the pre-injury work setting. Another area where barriers to recovery may occur is where e personal or health issues are intruding on the progress of treatment and rehabilitation of the work related injury.


It is the NTD’s job to monitor the progress of the referral and treatments and make adjustments to the medical certificate and treatment plan as requirements.

The Rehabilitation Team


Where injuries are more serious or the issues associated with the injury are complex, an insurer or employer may appoint a workplace rehabilitation provider (WRP).  All WRP’s must be accredited by Workcover NSW.  


Initially the employer may choose a workplace rehabilitation provider - the vast majority of rehabilitation provider referrals are initiated by the insurer with who the employer’s policy is taken out.  The providers appointed tend to be their “preferred providers” in that they usually have a contract concerning their fee structure and way of operating that is complimentary to insurer’s business model and approach to injury management.  The majority of these rehabilitation providers are medium to large in size and have offices in range of locations.


The doctor, worker, union, insurer or employer cannot initiate a rehabilitation referral. Injured workers however, CANrequest  a provider of their choosing.  At least 50% of the accredited rehabilitation providers are not the insurer’s preferred providers. Their work is generated by reputation with unions, allied health, doctors, employers, and / or through reputation they have developed concerning the quality of services they have provided to injured workers in the past.


The workplace rehabilitation team consists of a case manager who oversees all aspects of the case.  A good workplace rehabilitation service provider will ensure a comprehensive initial assessment is undertaken.  This assessment will be holistic in that it will be used to identify all the relevant factors and issues of injury management that need to be considered to ensure a good response to medical intervention and an increased capacity to return to work.


The initial assessment may identify the need for other services to help facilitate independence, treatment responsiveness or to increase capacity to undertake preinjury work duties.  Some of the assessments that may need to be undertaken include: 


A workplace assessment - This assessment is usually performed by an occupational therapist that will visit a worksite and assess a range of aspects of the work environment with the view of facilitating an incident free return to work.  This may involve changing the layout of a desk or work station, or providing other types of aids that assist the injured worker carry out their work role. 


A functional Assessment -  This assessment is carried out by an occupational therapist, physiotherapist or exercise physiologist explores the physical capacities a worker has in relation to specific activities they may need to carry out in their everyday life or in their work place.  It may include assessment of tolerances for repeated lifting or bending when that is a requirement of the injured worker’s job. 


Vocational assessment – These only occur when the initial goal of all workers compensation claim cannot be reached, that is, return to full duties, full hours in the pre-injury job with the pre-injury employer.  When the worker can’t upgrade because of permanent restrictions from their injury and suitable duties can no longer be offered by the employer and alternate occupation needs to be considered.  When this goal is agreed to by the stakeholders a vocational assessment may be carried out. A vocational assessment explores a workers potential job options in context of their education levels, qualifications, acquired work skills and their transferable skills after their injury limitations and work skills affected by their injury are taken in to consideration.  Consideration is also given to the labour market, training required to become competitively employable, and time frames and costs.  A good vocational assessment will carry out on more than one day and will involve the workers input and job preferences.


Ongoing Case management - Only workers who are certified fit for suitable duties by their NTD can have ongoing workplace rehabilitation support.   An experienced and skilled case manager will have a natural empathy for the injured worker’s situation and for the other stakeholders and be inspirational and motivational. They will communicate and engage with all stakeholders and help to coordinate services to maximise the prospects for a safe and durable plan for the injured worker to return to “suitable employment” whether it is with the same employer or in a different job with a different employer.

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