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Return to Work Case Study


Maintaining your injured worker at work or returning them to work involves careful review and assessment of the components of their job, work practices and the risks they pose for your injured worker. Controlling those risks by making changes to the workplace or work practices, as illustrated in the following case study, is the next vital step to identifying suitable employment and returning your injured workers to work.


Brenda is a 37 year old nurse. She lives a short distance from her employment and has two children aged 12 and 7. Brenda has worked for her current employer, who operates a 50 bed nursing home, for eight years as a Registered Nurse and is experienced in manual handling techniques. The nursing home has elderly residents who are bed ridden and require considerable manual handling, and others who are capable of some walking and self care.

Many of the residents suffer from varying degrees of dementia and are subject to erratic and sudden
unexpected behaviour. In dealing with these situations, great physical demands can be placed on nursing and other staff. Brenda has enjoyed good health until she injured her back. Brenda sustained the injury to her back when she and a co-worker helped an elderly lady to stand up at a rail in the toilet area. The resident had subsequently let go of the rail and fallen and Brenda had instinctively, but awkwardly, reached out to grab her to stop her falling. Brenda has been having physiotherapy 2 times a week, and maintains an exercise program, including daily walking, that is supervised by her physiotherapist. Brenda has been treated by her doctor with medication to assist with pain relief while supporting her exercise program. The doctor and the physiotherapist expect Brenda to be able to return to work with modified duties in about 4-6 weeks after the injury.

Prepare an assignment return to work plan for Brenda including the following details:

  • best practices in disability management
  • people focused climate
  • prevention focus
  • early intervention
  • integrated claims management monitoring system
  • work accommodation
  • light duty work
  • gradual work exposure
  • work trials
  • supported and sheltered work

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