Injury management self audit tool

This self-assessment checklist has been designed to allow businesses to quickly assess their injury management systems and processes, identify areas where improvements can be made and provide practical next steps.

Your results

Progress Bar Graphic
Management commitment
Consultation
Training and education
Early intervention and return to work
Document, report and improve
1. Management commitment
Management commitment
2. Consultation
Consultation
3. Training and education
Training and education
4. Early intervention and return to work
Early intervention and return to work
5. Document, report and improve
Document, report and improve
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Progress Bar Graphic
Management commitment
Consultation
Training and education
Early intervention and return to work
Document, report and improve
1. Management commitment
Management commitment
2. Consultation
Consultation
3. Training and education
Training and education
4. Early intervention and return to work
Early intervention and return to work
5. Document, report and improve
Document, report and improve
Next
Management commitment

Management systems assist an organisation to effectively manage the recovery and return to work of employees who are injured at work.

There are many different models used by many different organisations and each has its benefits (and sometimes vulnerabilities) associated with it. One thing that all successful systems have in common however is management commitment.

Success starts at the top with clear direction and support from senior management. Without a clear and demonstrated commitment to management of workplace injury by senior managers any system just becomes a loose collection of documents that have no value or use to the organisation. Workers will not react well to a “do as I say not as I do” culture and the organisation leaves itself vulnerable to higher injury rates, higher costs and spiralling premium rates.

Management commitment means providing clear direction to workers through simple and robust procedures, effective consultation, education, provision of required resources, demonstrated commitment to injury prevention and management and a transparent injury management process.

1. Does the workplace have a clear injury management policy?
2. Do managers and workers clearly understand their injury management responsibilities?
3. Does the business allocate time and resources (money, personnel etc.) to managing the injury management system?
4. Do line managers take responsibility to actively manage injured employees?
Next
Progress Bar Graphic
Management commitment
Consultation
Training and education
Early intervention and return to work
Document, report and improve
1. Management commitment
Management commitment
2. Consultation
Consultation
3. Training and education
Training and education
4. Early intervention and return to work
Early intervention and return to work
5. Document, report and improve
Document, report and improve
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Consultation

Consultation is about involving and developing your organisation’s employees.

Employees that feel involved in decisions that affect them are more engaged with the business and the organisation is far less vulnerable to misunderstanding, rumour and resentment. It is important in modern business that employees are not only aware of what they should be doing but also why they are doing it.

It is important to understand that consultation does not simply mean showing a new procedure or policy to the workforce and telling them it will be in force in two weeks. An effective consultation process involves not only gathering and considering feedback from the workforce but also making sure employees know that their feedback was considered and how it has shaped the final decision.

It is equally important to understand that consultation does not mean having to cater for all individual feedback but rather considering all positions to arrive at a reasonable decision. There is no surer way to have your workforce cease to be engaged in the business than to ignore feedback, suggestions or other staff communications. No worker will be interested in your process if they feel that anything they say is ignored and so always make sure staff are aware of the process and understand what has been considered and why decisions have been made.

1. Does the business have a formal consultation process that includes injury management consultation?
2. Does the business have a formal issue resolution process to resolve any disputes or issues raised by an injured employee or others with respect to a work injury claim or the return to work process?
3. Are injured employees consulted before any decisions are made regarding their return to work or alternative duties?
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Progress Bar Graphic
Management commitment
Consultation
Training and education
Early intervention and return to work
Document, report and improve
1. Management commitment
Management commitment
2. Consultation
Consultation
3. Training and education
Training and education
4. Early intervention and return to work
Early intervention and return to work
5. Document, report and improve
Document, report and improve
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Training and education

Training and education form an integral part of any system of work.

Most workers have some areas in their knowledge and skill that could be improved. A training program can bring all workers to a higher skill level and ensure that employees have a similar level of knowledge and skill. Providing necessary training creates a more knowledgeable workforce who can assist each other as needed and can also work independently without the need for close and constant supervision.

A structured program helps to make sure that staff have consistent knowledge of their role and responsibilities. The consistency is particularly relevant for the employer’s policies and procedures. All workers need to be aware of the expectations and procedures within the business. This includes injury management and safety. Putting all staff through regular training in these areas ensures that all employees have exposure to the information.

Proactive identification and delivery of training that a business makes shows employees they are valued. Training creates a supportive workplace and staff may gain access to training they wouldn’t have otherwise known about or sought out themselves. In addition a worker who has received training is better able to perform their role. Worker’s become more aware of safety and other practices and procedures and this helps build employee confidence and job satisfaction.

1. Does the business have a formal training process and procedure in place that includes injury management?
2. Does injury management form part of employee induction?
3. Are employee training needs with respect to injury management regularly reviewed and does training take place as planned/scheduled?
4. Are records kept of training provided?
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Next
Progress Bar Graphic
Management commitment
Consultation
Training and education
Early intervention and return to work
Document, report and improve
1. Management commitment
Management commitment
2. Consultation
Consultation
3. Training and education
Training and education
4. Early intervention and return to work
Early intervention and return to work
5. Document, report and improve
Document, report and improve
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Early intervention and return to work

A business’ first response to an injury is a major factor in determining the cost of a claim and the length of time a person may have off from work.

There are many employers running successful injury management systems each with their own procedures and methods. Common to all successful injury management systems however is early intervention. Early intervention means exactly what it says – acting on injuries immediately and ensuring that medical treatment and return to work processes are instigated quickly and efficiently.

The way an employee’s line manager reacts and deals with the injury and a worker’s perception of the business’ overall attitude to injuries and illness are also important factors. Employers with a consistent and fair approach to injuries and return to work have fewer injuries and less significant claims than employers with no system and a poor attitude to injuries.

An important thing to note is that early intervention is about providing support and options for your injured employees. It is not a process dependent on a claim for compensation being accepted by your ReturnToWorkSA claims agent. Your early communication with your employee and how you do it will have a major impact. Your care and concern is critical whether or not you like the person or understand precisely how the injury happened.

1. Does the business have a formal injury management procedure in place that details return to work and early intervention processes?
2. Do frontline managers have the authority to manage the return to work and early intervention process?
3. Are injured employees actively involved in the management of their return to work?
4. Are alternative duties always located and provided as required?
5. Does the business have a strong relationship with a nearby medical clinic?
6. When an injury occurs is ReturnToWorkSA or our claims agent always notified within 24 hours of an injury (including injuries not resulting in time lost)?
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Next
Progress Bar Graphic
Management commitment
Consultation
Training and education
Early intervention and return to work
Document, report and improve
1. Management commitment
Management commitment
2. Consultation
Consultation
3. Training and education
Training and education
4. Early intervention and return to work
Early intervention and return to work
5. Document, report and improve
Document, report and improve
Back
Finish
Document, report and improve

The best way to make sure that your system is adding value to your business and making sure it is running as efficiently and effectively as possible is to regularly review and evaluate it.

Most businesses recognise the need to have an injury management (IM) management system. Businesses are aware that they are obliged to provide duties for injured workers and to assist with the claims and return to work process. Having a set of policies and procedures in place does not mean that you are achieving this purpose or that the procedures are used or are relevant to your organisation. This can leave the business vulnerable to employee injuries, increased costs, lost production, high staff turnover and even prosecution.

Much like any other aspect of running the business it is important that you set goals and targets for your injury management system and that you set some indicators (KPIs) that you can evaluate periodically to ensure you are on track to reach your business goals.

These goals and KPIs are an invaluable tool for management to assess business performance and provide resources and guidance in areas where it is required. This targeted intervention will minimise wastage and ensure efficient systems of work.

It is also important that you periodically check your procedures and practices to make sure that they have kept up with any changes to your business or personnel as well as any government regulations and Acts. It is always worthwhile checking whether you are doing what you say you are going to do and to adjust your system or employee practices as required when you are not.

1. Is there a documented management system that fully integrates injury management?
2. Is there a document control system in place?
3. Does the business set injury management goals, targets and KPIs and are they regularly reported and monitored?
4. Is the injury management system regularly reviewed for effectiveness and updated to take into account any issues or business changes identified?
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1 - Management commitment
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2 - Consultation
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3 - Training and education
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4 - Early intervention and return to work
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5 - Document, report and improve
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1 - Management commitment

Results

There is most likely a lack of management commitment to manage injuries properly.

This may be because managers perceive that managing injuries is not their responsibility or it may be due to a lack of support from senior management. Workers may feel as though they are a problem or burden to their employer and colleagues and this can lead to poorer return to work outcomes, a perception of bullying or harassment and generally higher claims costs.

It can seem that employers with this culture have fewer injuries than others but in fact what is occurring is that injuries are not being reported when they should be and this leads to significantly higher claims costs and time lost as claims are only lodged when they have got to a point where they are very serious.

Employers that tick mostly in the red zone tends to have much higher than average injury durations and a high percentage of “problem” claims.

Next steps

  1. Make sure that you introduce a clear and simple policy for injury management based on the principals of early return to work, support and tolerance.
  2. Clearly define everybody’s place in the injury management process. Train all managers and staff in the process and enforce functions through performance reviews.
  3. Appoint and train a return to work coordinator. The return to work coordinator should be recruited from within the organisation and have a good understanding of the business and people.
  4. Once this person is appointed give them the time and resources to carry out their functions properly. A return to work coordinator should have the authority of senior management to make decisions on return to work and should not need to ask permission to fulfil the role.
  5. Make sure that all managers are responsible and accountable for injured workers in their direct sphere. Managers should be involved in all return to work negotiations and decisions (under the guidance of the return to work coordinator).

Results

Managers are generally aware of the injury management process but may not always fully commit to the function (especially if other things come up to distract them). There is an understanding of the management role in the system but they do not always participate.

The return to work coordinator may also have another position and when time is limited for the return to work function it can be put to the side in favour of the substantive role. This can send a message to workers that management of their injuries is not important to the business.

Some managers may feel that managing the return to work of their direct reports is not their job and this can lead to poor return to work outcomes as well as other cultural issues.

Next steps

  1. Make sure your managers and staff are completely clear with their role in recovery and return to work. This can be accomplished by training (or re-training), regular updates at team meetings or other initiatives promoting injury management.
  2. Make sure senior managers are always involved in activities or meetings to make it clear that injury management is important to the business.
  3. Make sure your return to work coordinator has enough time to properly perform the role. This will vary from business to business but in general the coordinator themselves will be able to let you know if they have enough time. You can also check your injury statistics and speak to your managers and workers about their experiences with the system.
  4. Encourage managers to “walk the talk” and assist them with any concerns. Make sure that you do not simply take away responsibility but rather help the managers to fulfil their role though extra training or other assistance. The return to work coordinator can assist with this.

Results

You have a robust, effective and proven system and your managers are invested in injury management. You devote sufficient time and resources into injury management and you have an engaged workforce.

Next steps

  1. Regularly review your system to ensure its currency and effectiveness.
  2. Keep managers engaged in the process by regular recognition of their efforts.
  3. Make sure the return to work coordinator is keeping up with his or her jobs and has enough time to do them effectively.
2 - Consultation

Results

You probably do not have an effective consultation system. Consultation forms a part of any organisation’s legal obligations but more than this it helps you to engage and understand your workforce. Workers that are involved in decision making and feel part of the business are less likely to have injuries and more likely to want to return to work if they do have an injury.

Employers who do not have any consultative mechanism run the risk of having a disengaged workforce. This can lead to a greater level of injury and absence and higher costs for claims as workers may feel suspicious of the employer’s motives.

Included in the concept of consultation is transparency of actions. Workers and managers should always work together as part of your injury management process and each party should be aware of what the other is doing and why they are doing it. This engenders a level of trust and will result in less time lost and more successful long term return to duties.

Next steps

  1. Make sure that you introduce a clear and simple consultation procedure based on the principals of transparency and inclusion. Make sure the procedure details the mechanisms of your consultation (i.e. when and how you will consult) as well as the way staff can engage the business (e.g. feedback mechanisms, issues register, suggestion box etc).
  2. Ensure that staff are consulted in the development and implementation of any injury management process and that an affected worker is always included in any return to work discussions or decisions.
  3. Provide a way for employees to express their views on a regular basis (e.g. team meetings, suggestion box) and then ensure that suggestions are read and considered and staff who provide the feedback are made aware of what has happened to their suggestions.

Results

You have a consultative mechanism in place but it may be incomplete or undocumented. You may inform your staff of new processes but this is done informally and you do not have a formal mechanism in place to receive and consider feedback. Even if you do engage your staff, without formal documentation it is difficult to ensure that all required consultation occurs and that the process is consistent and fair.

Whilst you do involve staff in major decisions you may not consult in other aspects of your business or provide a forum for regular feedback. You may not let people know that you do consider their feedback resulting in a lower level of engagement. This can be remedied by providing information on what has been received and giving feedback on the process.

In the case of the injury management process it is important that workers and managers are fully involved in the return to work process and that decisions are made considering all parties views. Above all the process must be transparent and fair to all parties.

Next steps

  1. Make sure that you introduce a clear and simple consultation procedure based on the principles of transparency and inclusion. If you do not have a formal procedure in place you may not always consult when you should and having a procedure shows that you have a consistent and fair process in place. It also allows you to properly measure the effectiveness of your consultative process.
  2. Ensure that employees are consulted about any decision or change that may affect them. This includes involvement in the injury management and return to work process.
  3. Make sure your employees know that you consider and value their opinions. This can be done via team meetings, notices or other communications that show what feedback/suggestions have been made and what consideration has been given to them. You may consider formal recognition of particularly good feedback or suggestion.
  4. Integrate injury management consultation into your existing consultation procedures/practices.

Results

You have a proven effective consultation process which is utilised throughout the business. You consult with your workers on a regular basis and include them in all decisions that may affect them.

Next steps

  1. Regularly review your consultative mechanisms to ensure currency and effectiveness.
  2. Make sure you continue to engage your workforce and adapt your system to any changes.
  3. Periodically test (e.g. survey) your workplace to confirm that the workforce feels that they are consulted effectively.
3 - Training and education

Results

You probably do not have an adequate training program. In relation to injury management this can mean that your worker’s are unaware of your early return to work policy, their responsibilities to report injuries and disclose information or your expectations of behaviours.

In addition your line managers (supervisors) will most likely not be aware of the importance of their roles and consider that return to work and management of injuries is not their responsibility. This will invariably lead to lengthier periods of time off of work (for even relatively minor injuries) and can also create a general level of dissatisfaction amongst the workforce.

It will be difficult for you to enforce your business code of conduct or behavioural expectations if you do not provide adequate training for your staff which may mean your general work culture and climate will be negative.

Next steps

  1. Perform a simple training needs analysis for your employees. This can be as simple as creating a spreadsheet that lists all of your business roles/tasks with a list of the skills required to perform the tasks. You should include a knowledge of your safety and injury management procedures in this. You could then consult with your employees to determine what skills and knowledge they have and cross reference this against your skill matrix. This will help you to understand the training gaps within the business which you can begin to address systematically. This method will ensure that all training is covered but just as importantly is relevant to your business.
  2. Make sure that injury management/early return to work is part of your standard induction program.
  3. Make sure that you keep training current. In the case of injury management you may wish to have injury management as an agenda item for team meetings or you may diarise regular updates to training as part of your training matrix (above).
  4. It is important to keep records of what you have done. This will prevent double-ups of training and also will be a vital part of any disciplinary or SafeWork SA activity. It is also a legislative requirement.

Results

You are aware that training is an important part of business and you have the foundation of a training system in place. There may be some gaps in the record keeping in the system or it may be that once training is performed it is not systematically updated to ensure its currency and relevance to the business. Induction may be incomplete or inadequate with respect to injury management.

Next steps

  1. Make sure your training records are kept up to date and regularly review your training needs to ensure currency. You can use the same system to diarise updates and reviews as necessary. It is simple to cover all of the training and update requirements in a single document or system. You may build a spreadsheet yourself or purchase one of the many commercial products available.
  2. Review the injury management portion of the induction and update it to reflect your policies and procedures. Make sure there is emphasis on the importance of return to work and the value of employees to the business.

Results

Your workforce has all of the training requirements met and you keep excellent records of all skills, knowledge and training for the workforce. You regularly review the training needs for the workforce and your induction program covers all required policies and behavioural requirements.

Next steps

  1. Regularly review your system to ensure its currency and effectiveness
  2. Regularly interrogate the system to ensure that what is being trained is what is being done (i.e. are workers doing what they have been trained to do?)
4 - Early intervention and return to work

Results

It is likely that you have no early intervention process or a limited one. This does not mean that you do not care about your employees or that you never provide duties – simply that you do not have a systematic approach to early intervention.

An important aspect of injury management is integration into your normal business process. Where the response to an injury is “I am too busy to deal with that now” or where your response is to await what the agent does you are dramatically increasing the likelihood of longer periods of time off of work and increasing your overall risk as workers that are so inclined will know this and you may develop a culture of claim = time-off. This can be avoided by implementing and managing an injury management system.

Next steps

  1. Design and implement an early intervention system. This is a simple process of writing out your expectations and describing the roles and responsibilities of all employees. Your procedure should contain tight timeframes for reporting of injury and protocols for workers, supervisors and the return to work coordinator to follow. The procedure should also include your commitment to return to work and how you will communicate this and the availability of duties to the employee’s treating doctor. You may also include details on preferred medical providers if applicable (refer below).
  2. Include supervisors as the first contact and provide training and authority for them to be the “frontline” for early intervention and return to work. Your supervisors are in a position to know the employees, what jobs are available and how an injured worker is coping with duties. It makes sense to rely on them for ensuring the return to work process is working.
  3. Remember the injured employee. Make sure they are involved in all aspects of the process and are kept informed.
  4. Always provide alternative duties where at all possible. Remember that in a vast majority of cases alternative duties are temporary in nature and you do not need to restructure your entire business to accommodate them. The benefits in the reduction of time lost and claim costs far exceed the inconvenience of providing work for a little while.
  5. Where it is practical to do so develop a relationship with a nearby clinic. Invite doctors to meet you and tour the worksite. This will assist in identification of duties and will reduce the instance of time lost due to doctors being unaware of what workers do.

Results

You have a good understanding of early intervention and injury management. Your system deals with most circumstances well but there may be a few aspects of your process that could be improved. This can be due to a lack of training or understanding by staff, limited or restricted resources or time or because of the structure and nature of your business.

Next steps

  1. Consider your business structure and how it operates. Make sure that responsibility for early intervention and return to work is given to those that are in the best position to do it.
  2. Train and educate all staff in the process and emphasise your commitment to injury management through provision of resources and training.
  3. Make sure your process is transparent and workers are involved in their own return to work and claim.
  4. Where it is practical to do so develop a relationship with a nearby clinic. Invite doctors to meet you and tour the worksite. This will assist in identification of duties and will reduce the instance of time lost due to doctors being unaware of what workers do.

Results

You have a successful and embedded early intervention and return to work system. You have a clear line of responsibility in the business and your supervisors and workers are fully trained in their roles and responsibilities. You have a strong relationship with a nearby medical clinic (where possible).

Next steps

  1. Regularly review your system to ensure its currency and effectiveness.
  2. Regularly interrogate the system to ensure that everyone is aware of and is performing their roles within the system. This is especially important where there are new supervisors and staff.
5 - Document, report and improve

Results

You do not set injury management goals, targets or KPIs. You may not have a system of regular reporting to senior management or they may be no mechanism in place to act on reports. You may not keep sufficient records of injuries/incidents or properly analyse them to make sure they do not happen again. Your procedures may also be out of date or irrelevant to your current practices and you may not have a system of internal audit and review.

All of these things can mean that you do not control your injury management system properly and this leaves you vulnerable to higher levels of injury and claims costs.

Next steps

  1. Design and implement an injury management system. The procedure should reflect your process and must contain clear and concise expectations and accountabilities for you and your staff. The system should build in internal review and provide guidance on reporting and internal audit.
  2. Make sure your system can be accessed by all of your staff but modified and edited by only a few people. This will ensure that you do not have multiple versions of the same documents and that you can be certain that the procedures are current and authorised.
  3. Set goals, targets and KPIs for your injury management system and make sure you report on them regularly. The frequency of reporting will be dependent on the size of the business but should ideally be no less than quarterly. Review your goals annually based on previous and desired performance and never set goals that you cannot achieve. Remember KPIs are there to let you know that there may be a problem developing and to allow you to make adjustments before issues become big.
  4. Make sure you keep detailed records of incidents, injuries and investigations. It is important that these records are kept formally (i.e. in a register or electronic system) rather than simply placed in a folder on shelf. These records will form the basis of your system review and reporting and will be a vital part of the improvement process.
  5. Link goals and KPIs to accountability mechanisms such as performance reviews and action plans.

Results

You have a formal system in place but it may not be fully integrated into your other business systems. In practice your documents are well controlled but it may be that there is not restricted access and there may be some doubling up of procedures or unauthorised editing. You may informally review incidents but there is no systematic approach to analysis and addressing of emerging trends.

You may not have a robust system of internal audit or the audit may not be used properly to address system and practice issues. Your system of goal and KPI setting may not be sophisticated or properly targeted based on your own business needs.

Next steps

  1. Consider your business structure and how it operates. Integrate your injury management into your other systems. Make injury management part of what you do rather than a legislative obligation.
  2. Set goals, targets and KPIs for your injury management system and make sure you report on them regularly. The frequency of reporting will be dependent on the size of the business but should ideally be no less than quarterly. Review your goals annually based on previous and desired performance and never set goals that you cannot achieve. Remember KPIs are there to let you know that there may be a problem developing and to allow you to make adjustments before issues become big.
  3. When you identify issues or set programs to reduce injuries/incidents place your actions on an action plan. This will assist management with ensuring required actions are completed and provide a record of actions and time taken to address issues. They can also assist with making sure actions are consistent with business requirements and that accountabilities are maintained.

Results

You have a successful and embedded early intervention and return to work system. You have an effective document control system in place. You set goals, targets and KPIs and regularly report on and review them. You have a formal system of internal audit and you properly analyse trends and performance. You maintain detailed records and utilise corrective action plans to address required activity.

Next steps

  1. Regularly review your system to ensure its currency and effectiveness.
  2. Regularly interrogate the system to ensure that what you want done is being done (i.e. are we doing what we say we will do and if not why not?).
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