RTW Knowledge Base
RTW Knowledge Base
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The issue for employers

The issue for employers

Occupational health

Work affects health and there are many ways that health can affect work.

Common issues include:
  • Returning to work after an illness or injury
  • Managing a workplace injury
  • Avoiding health hazards
  • Improving overall workplace productivity by encouraging good health.

So why the focus on return to work?

Most people do return to work quickly after sick leave, but a significant minority are absent for a long time, and some remain off work permanently.

When an injury or illness requires sick leave taking time off work becomes an issue in itself. Significant research shows that work is good for the health of most people and it is an important part of rehabilitation
The process of helping a person back to their former abilities and quality of life (or as close as possible) after injury or a medical condition.
 after an illness or injury. What's more, the longer someone takes off work the less likely they are to return. After a few months off the chance of ever returning to work is slim. When this occurs, the personal and financial consequences are severe. Worklessness is dangerous to workers' health and costly for their employer.

In many cases, these problems can be actively avoided; they are not inevitable.

Being able to return to work is not just a matter of how severe the injury or illness is – in fact, the research has shown that other factors are much more important. The approach to treatment, the response of the employer, decisions made in the workplace and the beliefs and attitudes of the people involved are some of the most important influences on recovery and return to work.

Occupational health involves workers, employers, insurance companies, medical professionals, occupational health and safety experts and a host of other people, who each bring a unique perspective. The evidence shows that medical treatment alone is not enough to improve outcomes, improving workplace health requires the input of all of these players.

How can this website help?

This website provides scientifically-supported information about the best approach to treatment, management, prevention and risk-reduction.
  • The best approach is not always clear.
  • Doctors, employers, patients and insurers might all have different ideas about how to manage workplace health and all of these people can feel under-informed.
  • Sometimes, traditional or popular strategies for managing workplace health fly in the face of what the scientific evidence tells us is effective.
  • There are lots of claims that certain treatments or interventions
    A treatment or management program. Interventions often combine several approaches. In this field approaches include training in problem solving, adaptation of work duties, graded activity, an exercise and stretching program and pain relief.
     are effective, but until they've been carefully studied it's impossible to be sure.

Although many studies have been performed, the information is not easy for everyone to access and sometimes there is simply too much of it. On this website scientific papers have been translated into an easy-to-read format. They provide up-to-date objective evidence with recommendations for managing a personal injury or illness, best-practice in the workplace or medical clinic, and important factors in workers' compensation claims. The overall aim is to arm people with the knowledge to prevent and respond to injury and illness in the most effective way possible, which in turn will reduce sick leave and improve return to work.

Dr Mary Wyatt- Chair Knowledge Base Project Team.

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