4: Return to work
Occupational safety and health and return-to-work
Each specific situation should be handled differently and the health and safety measures that will need to be implemented can vary greatly. The worker might need (e.g. physiotherapy), vocational (e.g. training to learn new skills if he/she cannot do the same job as before) or workplace adaptations based on assessment of physical load, or a change in working hours to reduce fatigue, or the need to travel at peak times.
The role of
OSH professionals can support a successful process by conducting risk assessments when workers return to work after sickness or injury, or have health conditions that could affect or be affected by their work. Examples of issues that have to be considered in the are:
- Would continuing in the same job compromise the worker’s health further (e.g. work load, shift work)?
- Has the worker’s ability to carry out the job safely and effectively been affected by the illness or injury (e.g. working at height may be restricted if there is a risk of the worker becoming dizzy or losing consciousness)?
- Is the worker involved in a continuing treatment plan?
- Are there any potential effects as a result of medication that the worker is taking?
Arrangements can be put in place on a temporary basis while the person recovers. If the injury or illness results in permanent restriction, the arrangements and workplace adaptations may be considered on a long term basis, taking into account the loss of .
Examples of workplace changes include:
- Adaptations of the workstation (e.g. recalibrating equipment to improve safety, or improving accessibility to the premises);
- More schedules (e.g. for attending treatments or medical appointments); or
- Reduced workloads (e.g. providing alternative work).