The goal of workcover is to return injured workers as fast as possible to work , and then, if possible, return injured workers to their pre-injury health (yep, in that order).
The majority of injured workers undoubtedly want to return to work as quick as possible, and make up the predominance of medical-only cases; that is: with minimal time off work.
The “reluctant” or “uncooperative” injured worker (often seen by others: case managers, employers, IMEs, rehabbers and appendages- as unmotivated or benefiting from secondary gain) is too often seen as someone who can be forced into returning to work, as was highlighted again in yesterday’s article “WorkCover SA deploys new SWAT teams“.
“Rapid response teams” or SWAT teams will be deployed to the injured worker’s workplace within 72 hours of notification of a claim. The SWAT teams will “start the conversation about resuming work” immediately (“the capture” and “the interrogation”). This is to ensure that any injured worker that should escape the heavily armed cordon is quickly re-captured“.
Indeed, injured workers are treated like criminals, fraudsters, benefit-suckers and system-milkers…guilty of the crime of having been injured at work (often by negligent employers)…until proven innocent…and still!
Forcing injured workers to return to work
However, this said “reluctant” or “uncooperative”/ “escaped” injured workers will not return to their job if:
- they anticipate that the unspoken goal is to sack them – so common!
- there is open animosity with co-workers and/or superiors (managers/boss)
- their medication alters attention, concentration and coordination, increasing risk of injury to self or others
- they have become de-conditioned and are not competent to fulfill job requirements, even though they are not technically disabled from doing so
- they anticipate confrontation with, or from, a co-worker/manager/ employee involved in their injury (particularly in cases of bullying, harassment etc).
- they are in settings where the physical risk factors that led to injury have not been addressed by the employer (and may already have experienced serious injury aggravation)
- their limitations are not honored by the employer or are doubted by co-workers who resent the light duty offered the injured worker
- they are placed in alternate settings/duties in which the injured worker is knowingly assigned menial, humiliating (or no productive) tasks resulting in boredom and resentment
- their treating doctor(s) releases them to work on paper – under workcover’s pressure- but does not share this change in condition with the injured worker
Thus we see over and over again that the primary disincentives to work include:
- compromised health,
- unsafe conditions,
- unresolved ill-will, and
- lack of meaningful work.
[Posted on behalf of workcovervictim]
Revised May 2014