Improving outcomes for staff injured in the workplace

Michelle Farmer leans against a balustrade
November 13, 2020

Completing her research project as part of her Masters of Occupational Health and Safety, South Metropolitan Health Service (SMHS) Work Health and Safety Manager Michelle Farmer said undertaking the study in her own workplace provided rich and relevant data useful for the development of staff improvement strategies.

The aim of the project was to answer the question, “What are the factors for supporting a supernumerary return to work program from the perspective of injury management consultants?”

Return to work programs are temporary, structured and documented programs developed to support injured staff as a result of a workplace incident in their return to the workplace.

Where medically guided restrictions are difficult to accommodate in the staff member’s pre-injury role, a supernumerary return to work program may be considered to assist the staff member with their return to work.

“Supernumerary return to work programs are based on ad hoc tasks rather than an existing job with staff on a program additional to regular departmental staff numbers, essentially an extra set of hands,” Michelle said.

“I wanted to understand from the perspective of our injury management consultants, what was driving the placement of injured workers back into supernumerary programs, rather than their pre-injury role so we can identify improvement strategies.”

An initiative has been included in the SMHS Work Health and Safety Plan for 2020–21 to consider the findings of the research.

This study was financially supported in-kind by SMHS in conjunction with Edith Cowan University.

Read more about research conducted across South Metropolitan Health Service in its 2019 Research Report (external PDF 4.1MB).

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