Critical Incident Response

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Adina Bellviken, Senior Injury Management Consultant and Exercise Physiologist for Rehab Services by Altius, talks us through how employers can support workers after an injury.

As much as we strive to avoid it, injuries still occur in the workplace. While, as employers, we always strive to learn from past incidents and work to make changes for a safer workplace, the question remains: -

Once an injury has occurred, what can an employer do next?

You may think the best way to protect your worker from further harm is to support them to stay home until they are 100% recovered, but this is not the case. Research shows prolonged time away from the workplace following an injury is associated with negative outcomes such as longer-term disability, poor physical and mental health, and reduced likelihood of return to work success.

Work can be a powerful tool in recovery from a workplace injury, it maintains a sense of purpose, social connection, work skills and work fitness, if done correctly.

There needs to be a balance. Returning to work in a supported or adapted environment can help the recovery process. Exploring if your business can make modifications to support a worker with an injury who is returning to work will help their recovery outcomes, as well as potentially save money on workers compensation costs.

How can I support my worker with an injury return to meaningful work activities?

Workplace rehabilitation is the process of providing guidance and support to a worker with an injury to enable safe and timely return to work after an injury or illness.

In most cases of workplace rehabilitation, the process can be managed internally with your existing resources. You can support your worker by:

Discuss modifications

Include the worker and their manager in discussions regarding their usual role, current limitations, and discuss any modifications or alternative duties that can be offered to facilitate continued engagement in the workplace. This can be in the form of performing reduced hours, limiting the types of duties completed, or a combination of both.

Create a plan

Develop a written plan that steps out how the worker will be supported at work, what hours they will perform and what restrictions they will adhere too. Ensure this is signed by the worker, supervisor and treating doctor.

Communicate with colleagues

Communicate the details and purpose of the to teammates and colleagues. as required. This enables them to support the worker to maintain their restrictions, rather than cause friction or confusion within the team.

Keep including the worker

If the worker requires some time away from the workplace prior to being able to commence suitable duties, keep them feeling included and connected by continuing to invite them to social events, morning tea and company newsletters, and ensure their closest supervisor/manager checks in on a regular basis, such as via telephone.

When might more support be required, and where can you get it?


Do you need additional support?

Many workplace injuries and the subsequent return to work can be successfully managed without the need for external support. However, some factors, such as the severity of the injury, work environment, resources of the organisation, and interpersonal or communication barriers may make this process more challenging and it may be advisable to seek additional support.

Vocational workplace rehab provider

A vocational workplace rehabilitation provider can assist with liaising with all the involved parties, including the worker, employer (managers, supervisors and team members), treating medical team (including but not limited to; General Practitioners, Specialists, Surgeons, Physiotherapists, Psychologists, Exercise Professionals) and the insurer to overcome barriers to achieve the return to work goals.

If external support is required, it is best to seek this early. Some factors that may warrant seeking the assistance of a provider are;

  • There are limited resources or skills within the company to effectively manage the return to work
  • You have been unable to identify any suitable duties within your organisation, or feel that offering a return on alternative duties will not be sustainable for the business
  • The severity of the injury means there is concern that a return to usual duties may not be achievable in the long term
  • There is difficulty receiving the required information from the treating practitioners, or other concerns regarding the diagnosis, treatment or timeframes for recovery; or
  • If concerns arise regarding the injured workers’ ability and motivation to adhere to the return to work plan.

How do I engage a Vocational rehabilitation provider?

The process to engage a Vocational Rehabilitation provider can vary slightly from state to state, and speaking to your Workplace Insurance Company or broker is a good place to start. Alternatively nominating a preferred provider to your workers’ compensation insurer, confirms that you have a ‘provider of choice’ for any worker’s compensation claim that may arise in relation to your policy requiring occupational rehabilitation. Benefits to having Rehabilitation Services engaged as your provider of choice has many benefits, including;

  • For all workers’ compensation matters where workplace rehabilitation support is required, and where the worker has not already nominated a Provider, Rehabilitation Services will be engaged to assist.
  • Easier access to early intervention, avoiding delays in the referral process.
  • Work with consultants who get to know your business, and one point of contact for all your open workplace rehabilitation matters, ensuring an easier experience for you and your workers!

If you are interested in more information about how Altius Group can assist your business with Workplace Rehabilitation, please contact

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How to Implement a Return to Work Plan

Vocational Counselling