• Keith Cresswell
    Hi all
    Supporting injured workers on their RTW journey can be problematic, We have an alternate / restricted duties policy to enable injured workers to continue in some capacity as per ACC guidelines and the workers willingness to engage.
    We also have a letter for the doctor and frequent toolbox meetings on reporting any work-related injuries as soon as they occur.

    How do you deal with a worker who is unwilling to engage in your process and gets signed off unfit for any work from their doctor (when we have suitable restricted work available).

    Or as in another example - a worker presents an "unfit for any work" med cert stating workplace injury which occurred previously and until then was not reported to the business.

    There is no doubt they are time away from work injuries but how do you report them? Is there another option?

    As an aside we have tried to get ACC to reclassify an injury that we were sure was not work related to no avail as the individuals account of the injury is taken as fact which would be fair enough in 99.9% of the time.
    Obviously there would be some HR / disciplinary opportunities here but will not change the time off stats

    Hopefully clear enough for comment
  • Stuart Oakey
    Hi Keith
    The employer could refer the employee to an independent occupational health Dr for assessment, and determine whether they could do alternative duties. In my experience a GP will usually sign them off, but if they do come back then they need a new certificate restricting what thy can actually do.

    I'm not sure where you are located but Working For Health (in New Plymouth) or another OCC Health expert might be able to provide more advice.

    On the second matter it's your word against theirs, even on the referral to HR, unfortunately. How would you prove it?
  • Mike Massaar
    Hi Keith,
    Hopefully this is not all about LTI stats and trying to reduce them! They are largely meaningless.

    GPs always advocate for their patients. I agree with Stuart that you need an independent view of an occ health specialist. We do this regularly and quite successfully. Also if your organisation has written policy on this as you indicate, then that employee would appear to be in breach of that policy.

    Also agree with Stuart that ACC take a claimant's word as gospel, until it is proven otherwise. Which is difficult. An example would be a person claiming a workplace incident, when upon investigation it was found the day of injury was when they were on annual leave. I have seen this once.
  • Jason Borcovsky
    Hi Keith,

    "unwilling to engage in your process "

    There is opportunity to examine this from an HR perspective. It sounds like you have a clear process that the worker is not following before they get to the Doctor. Your HR people will know how to deal with workers that do not follow procedure.

    and until then was not reported to the business.

    Same answer for this second example. Being unfit for work and being disciplined for not following procedure are not mutually exclusive. Both can happen. I hope I don't sound too ruthless. You might want to examine the worker comprehension and retention after these toolbox meetings and while you know about the Doctor's letter, does anyone-else know about it and really understand why you have it?

    There is no doubt they are time away from work injuries but how do you report them?

    As lost time injuries. That is why we have letters for doctors and reporting processes. We try to avoid the lost time or the misclassification in the first place. IMHO, its rare to get data that is absolutely clean and accurate. You would also have a good argument as to why LTI data is inaccurate and not a useful indicator.

    we have tried to get ACC to reclassify an injury

    Good luck! I'm a few years out of date but last I dealt with it the health and ACC system doesnt like mis-classified injuries being reclassified into other types of injuries. The multitude of different information systems do not easily propagated a change through the network.

    Changing a claim for work-related injury to personal injury is even harder. I've been involved in that several times and the employer is definitely on the back foot. Verifiable evidence is the only thing I've seen that will change ACC's mind.
  • Don Ramsay
    I had an ACC claim and it took me about 2 months and a lot of documents to convince them that it could have happened at work as the date was a Sunday and involved a car being repaired, we don't repair vehicles. It was a painful process as ACC did not believe that the doctor and the worker had it wrong.
  • Keith Cresswell

    Thanks for the feedback it sounds like we aren't the only organisation that has issues dealing with ACC and "work" injuries
    We have had a second opinion on one of our long term ACC recipients and while they disagree with the diagnosis it still sits with the individual to agree to return to work as they continue to get signed off by their own GP. Our HR team are reluctant to engage now as medical opinion trumps any performance issues apparently. Next step will probably be frustration of contract.

    Our challenge is to encourage our teams through toolbox and training sessions on the value of an RTW process and hopefully change the culture for some of our people. (most are willing and engaged in our injury management procedures)
  • Keith Cresswell

    Hi, Mike, interesting you say the LTI stats are largely meaningless I agree that basing an opinion on the safety performance of a business on LTI stats alone is unreasonable.
    No one want to hurt their workers but sometimes it happens and for whatever reason the worker wants to stay home for a day or two to recover. Many of these injuries could be managed as restricted duties - but playing devil's advocate - is it really such a big deal if we lose a couple of days.
    Unfortunately, yes if you need to report to a tier on contractor.
  • Jan-Ulf Kuwilsky
    Have you tried engaging with the worker's GP? They may not be aware of the types of alternative work you may be able to offer, having only the employee's perspective.
  • Caroline Hodges
    Hi Keith. I believe many organisations struggle with this same issue. And despite robust policies being in place, letters to GP's explaining the physical requirements of the role and alternative duties available, there are often people who want to just take some time to rest and recover at home. We have interrogated this a lot in our organisation and it's a balance between employee wellbeing, lag performance metrics and operational delivery. Difficult tension to hold. I wanted to share an approach with regards to reporting to a tier contractor. This may or may not be appropriate for your working model. When we identify there are conflicting circumstances regarding an injury that results in lost time; namely that a process hasn't been followed, there is evidence to suggest the injury may not be work related, the business feels it did not need to result in lost time, or there are other performance issues at play, we have taken the approach of discussing these factors with our clients (in line with privacy etc.) and seeking collaboration on the classification. We have found that this is a successful way of all parties owning the outcome and being able to tell the full story when queried by executives.

    This takes a lot of relationship building, trust and openness and I understand not all contractor relationships look like this. But wanted to share our experience. All the best.
  • Keith Cresswell

    Thanks for the feedback - really appreciate the share. All the best Keith
Add a Comment

Welcome to the Safeguard forum!

If you are interested in workplace health & safety in New Zealand, then this is the discussion forum for you.