It is frustrating to know one of your workers suffers an injury burn out of work, though it is difficult to identify what to do to help as you would want the best assistance for your employee. A worker that is totally unwell is a complex issue much more as managing a workplace injury. Recent studies indicated that utilising a "biopsychosocial approach" in managing a work related injury speeds up recovery and yield better results in terms of return to work outcomes for the employee.
What is a Biopsychosocial approach?
This approach is undertaken by healthcare specialists or rehab providers to assess and treat an injured worker. It does not only consider the actual or emotional injury the worker has suffered, but it also considers psychological, biological and social aspects of the human health that may affect the injured worker's total recovery. Issues being resolved may include financial anxieties, wrongful beliefs about their injury and on time recovery or issues related with their current work situation.
The Flags Model
It is usual for the healthcare expert or rehab provider to use "flags" model to determine the factors that may block a successful recovery and return to work. These flags are used to regulate risk assessment tools or through tedious history taking during the assessment phase. These include:
- Red flags: serious pathology/treatment failure or any biological factors
- Orange flags: personality disorders/mental health disorders or any mental health factors
- Yellow flags: harmful anxieties and beliefs about injuries, abnormal coping strategies, passive attitude
- Blue flags: unpleasant work, poor social support, low levels of satisfaction, personal problems/problems outside work
- Black flags: litigation or compensation thresholds or any threats to financial security
The injured worker’s successful return to work is hinged on you, the employer being aware of the factors that have been identified as most likely barriers to recovery. The success will largely depend also on working collaboratively with the treating doctor or rehab provider to determine strategies to address issues.
Early return to work is considered a key strategy in overcoming barriers such as psychological and social. It's a wrong notion that an injured worker must be fully recovered or may have undergone medical treatment prior to returning to work. Actually:
- A total healing is not accomplished before an injured worker returns to work.
- There is lesser probability the injured worker will return if he is granted a longer time that he is away from work.
Work Health Benefits
It is critical to comprehend that there are a multitude of positive benefits for the injured worker to return to work. Returning to work is not easy for an injured worker and such may cause disruption in the workplace. Job modifications and significant alternative duties may affect the smooth flow of the workplace system.
A treating healthcare specialist or rehab provider is capable of giving your injured worker with proper guidance on instances where it is correct to assume that it is medically safe for your worker to resume to work. This should be done in such a way that it does not post any risk to the worker's recovery.