workers compensation

Seeing an Exercise Physiologist through Workers Compensation

The Workers Compensation system in Australia is an insurance system set up to protect and rehabilitate workers who sustain an injury while performing their work duties. All workers are covered under the system, provided their employer takes out a compulsory workers compensation insurance policy.

It is overseen by SafeWork Australia, and each state provides their own regulatory authority, for example: SIRA in NSW, WorkCover in Qld, WorkSafe in Vic, and ReturntoWork in SA. Each state allows certain general insurance companies to provide insurance for employers, such as Allianz, QBE and GIO. Some organisations manage their own workers compensation claims internally, these known as ‘self-insurers’.

When can you claim workers compensation?

The main goal of the workers compensation system is to support injured workers with their recovery in order to ensure they return to work in a safe and durable manner.

You can claim workers compensation after you have sustained an injury at work. This includes while you’re performing your usual duties, or any other duties as instructed by your employer. Workplace injuries can be physical or psychological in nature, and the type of injury will determine your treatment and referral pathways.

Usually, this process involves reporting the injury to the employer, consulting with a GP, potential referral for imaging, and lastly, referrals to specialists and allied health providers (such as Exercise Physiologists).

How an exercise physiologist can help you return to work after injury

Exercise physiologists are university-qualified health professionals who specialise in exercise prescription for those who are living with a chronic condition, injury, or disability. As a result, they are well placed to assist an injured worker return to work. They can provide functional exercise prescription for physical conditioning to ensure that the body is able to recover from injury and re-adapt to the stressors of the job.

They can also assist with education to ensure that any barriers that are identified are addressed. This helps to ensure that employees can return to their pre-injury duties without concerns. Lastly, they will work collaboratively with insurers, employers, doctors, and rehabilitation consultants to ensure you’re supported through your recovery and return to work.

Common injuries an exercise physiologist can help with

An exercise physiologist can help with both physical and psychological injuries. In NSW for example, physical injuries account for 91.55% of injuries, while 8.45% of injuries are psychological.

The most common physical injuries that an Exercise Physiologist can help with include upper limb injuries, lower limb injuries, trunk injuries, head and neck injuries.

The most common psychological injuries that an Exercise Physiologist can help with include post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety/stress disorder, clinical depression, and short-term shock from exposure to disturbing circumstances.

How to access exercise physiology services through workers compensation

An injured worker is usually referred by their GP or specialist to an exercise physiologist for assistance with rehabilitation after their injury. Other referral pathways are via the insurer, employer and/or rehabilitation consultant. While sometimes this can occur in the acute stages of injury, the majority of injured workers are seen after they have completed treatment with other allied health providers and are in their final stages of rehabilitation.

If the insurance company accepts liability for the injury, they will pay for medical and treatment related fees. These are guided by the regulatory body in state that the injury occurred. The treatment must be deemed “reasonable and necessary” for the injured worker to achieve their return-to-work goal.

Final tips for someone injured at work

If you’ve been injured at work, here are our top tips for moving forward:

  • Always report the injury to your employer as soon as, or not long after, it happens. Often early intervention treatment means less time off work.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor/specialist/treatment provider about what the road to recovery may look like for you.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions so you can understand what is happening with your injury, and don’t be afraid to let people know if treatments aren’t working for you.
  • Being at work is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your recovery. Gradual re-exposure after injury ensure you will be able to manage returning to your job successfully.

If you’ve been injured at work and would like to find an exercise physiologist to help you with your recovery, you can find one near you by clicking here.

Written by Amy Harding. Amy is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at UpLift Exercise.