Returning to Work after a Workplace Injury

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Getting back to work after a workplace injury is the main goal of any ‘return to work’ scheme. It relies on discussion from the worker, employer, supervisors, doctors, insurer and workplace specialists. However, of these, the employee is the main guide to what should happen, as they are the one that has firsthand knowledge of how they are recovering. Most people are keen to return to work after a workplace injury, and working with doctors is the best way to ensure that they are not returning too early and are at risk of reinjuring themselves.


Workplace rehabilitation is the process that allows workers to ease themselves back into their regular work. It uses a step-by-step process, to guide the worker and allow them to gain control and independence. It is structured in a way that does not push the worker too fast, but at the same time allows them to build their confidence and skills back to what they were before they were injured.

Responsibilities of the Return to Work Programs

In order for rehabilitation to be successful, everyone must play their part.

  • Worker – must actively participate in any rehabilitation as soon as possible. They should contribute while the insurer is assessing their claim, and not wait for the outcome.
  • Employer – must offer the rehabilitation and help the worker return to work as a part of their rehabilitation. An employer should not wait to see the outcome of a claim. NOTE: The employer must appoint a rehabilitation and return to work coordinator (RRWC) if they have over 100 employees (if they are in a high-risk industry, it is 50 employees).
  • Supervisor – must support the worker with their rehabilitation and return to work plans.
  • RRWC – coordinates the parties involved and assists in the workers return to work plan.
  • WorkCover Queensland – communicates with all parties and guides the return to work process. Approves and reimburses the costs associated with the rehabilitation.
  • Health Providers – assists the worker in their recovery from the injury and provides the appropriate immediate and ongoing clinical care.
  • Injury Management Coordinators – can be engaged by the insurer or employers to offer assistance to rehabilitation and injury management.

The Return to Work Plan

There are many challenges when returning to work after an injury and for these to be successfully overcome, the best strategy is to have a plan. Consider that you may not be able to immediately return to your previous role and you may be limited to what you can do. 

In most cases, your employer will offer you suitable duties. This will require them to identify what work you are capable of so you may return to work in some capacity before you are fully able to be reinstated in your previous role.

To find out more about returning to work after a workplace injury, speak to one of our lawyers at Cairns Compensation Lawyers.