Injured construction workers in the Auckland region can now get support to recover at work, or return quicker after an injury, following the introduction of ACC’s Better@Work programme through new partnerships with Auckland Primary Health Organisations (PHOs) Harbour Health and Waiora Healthcare.
“This is a real bonus for injured workers in the Auckland region. It gives them access to a rapid intervention service specially designed to keep their lives on track while recovering from injury,” ACC clinical director Dr Kevin Morris says.
“For most people, keeping to daily routines while recovering, where safe and practicable, is the best medicine, and Better@Work enables that to happen,” Dr Morris says.
“International research clearly shows that staying at work to recover, when it’s safe to do so, leads to faster and more effective healing. Prescribing bed rest is now outdated and often counter-productive. The new view is that workplace rehabilitation is the more effective option.”
ACC’s Better@Work claims are identified and managed by PHO general practitioners, who use in-house Better@Work co-ordinators to co-ordinate the client, their employer and GP to help get the injured worker back into their job.
ACC claims statistics show that almost 10,000 serious injury claims were recorded in the construction industry in 2009, with an overall cost of around $24 million, with residential construction, trade groups and civil construction making up the highest number of claims.
Over the past year, Better@Work has been successfully trialled at Lake Taupo PHO, and now ACC is actively rolling out the trial programme to a selected group of larger PHOs to establish how it will operate in more diverse populations.
It was extended to HealthWEST PHO in Auckland and Hawkes Bay PHO just before Christmas.
The Better@Work service is a key element of ACC’s broader evidence-based philosophy which fosters safe workplace rehabilitation instead of unnecessary time off work.
Research shows that prolonged absence from work is corrosive, leading to loss of motivation, psychological impairment and longer healing durations.
Over time, the Better@Work programme will foster a cultural change which acknowledges that time off isn’t always the best approach to treating claims.
It will encourage GPs to think in more depth about returning injured workers to work, and it will make it easier for employers to keep injured workers productively involved in their workplaces.