Information for physiotherapists
On this page
- Treating an injured worker
- Programs and services to support your patient
- Certificate of Capacity
- Reports and forms
- Insurance Agents
- Early Physiotherapy Intervention Framework
- How do I register to become a physiotherapy provider for WorkSafe
- Return to work flowchart - Identifying and managing barriers
Treating an injured worker
A guide to support physiotherapists treating patients who have been injured at work.
Integrate the Clinical Framework Principles
WorkSafe expects the Clinical Framework principles to be integrated into physiotherapy services provided to injured workers as follows:
- Measure and demonstrate the effectiveness of treatment
- Adopt a biopsychosocial approach
- Empower the injured worker to manage their injury
- Implement treatment goals focused on optimising function, participation and return to work
- Base treatment on the best evidence available
Measure and demonstrate the effectiveness of treatment
Best practice involves the combined use of a variety of outcome measures (i.e. standardised, functional and customised). Regular use of outcome measures provides ongoing information about the injured worker's status and the effectiveness of the treatment employed.
Adopt a biopsychosocial approach
Facilitate an early, safe and durable return to work plan to assist your patient physically, psychologically and socially.
Empower the injured person to manage their injury
Educate your patient on the health benefits of returning to safe work and assist your patient to understand their certified capacity and any restrictions.
Implement goals focused on optimising function, participation and return to work
Develop SMART goals that focus on return to work and functional capacity. Review and update treatment goals as your patient progresses.
Base treatment on best available research evidence
Evidence-based practice allows health professionals to optimise injured workers' functional capacity and return to safe work outcomes. There is compelling evidence that returning to safe work is generally good for health and wellbeing and unnecessary and prolonged time away from work is harmful.
Return to Work conversations are part of your treatment
Injured workers who return to work as soon as possible generally recover more quickly and with fewer complications than those who wait until they're fully recovered. Physiotherapists should:
- use consultation time to educate their patients on the health benefits of staying at or returning to work;
- establish and review treatment goals focused on improved function and returning to work; and
- educate their patients on their certified capacity and any restrictions.
Certificate of Capacity
A Certificate of Capacity provides important information about the worker's injury, illness, capacity and limitations and can be issued by a medical practitioner, registered physiotherapist, registered chiropractor or registered osteopath. WorkSafe's Insurance Agents and employers use the Certificate of Capacity to determine an injured worker's capacity for work, the nature of their injury and it can help inform potential adjustments for return to work arrangements.
If time off work is required for your patient, a medical practitioner must provide the initial Certificate of Capacity (maximum up to 14 days). Physiotherapists can provide subsequent certificates (maximum up to 28 days). If no time off work is required, physiotherapists can provide information which may be in the form of a certificate to inform the employer of the worker's functional capability. An injured worker must have a Certificate of Capacity to receive loss of income compensation.
The Certificate of Capacity form is available on the WorkSafe website and may also be available through your practice management software.
When assessing the functional capacity of your patient ask yourself:
- What can my patient do? What are their functional capabilities i.e. can they sit, stand, walk, use uninjured limbs?
- What can't my patient do? What are their functional limitations i.e. unable to drive, not stand for longer than 30 mintues?
- What do I not want my patient to do? What are the pathological limitations i.e., lift from the ground level, walk on uneven terrain?
Certifying no capacity
Certifying 'no capacity' for employment is irregular practice for physiotherapists as it is uncommon that a person will have no functional capacity. Severe injuries do occur and some injuries result in low or no functional capacity.
Certifying no capacity for employment is appropriate when medically necessary i.e., work or activity is medically contraindicated and/or recovery requires confinement at home or in bed.
Certifying with capacity
Certification should be based on your patient's functional capacity.
State what your patient can do regardless of whether suitable duties are available at their workplace. It is the role of the employer and case manager from the Insurance Agent to identify suitable duties. To find out more on how to certify appropriately view the WorkSafe Webinar Modules on the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) website and on the Personal Injury Education Foundation (PIEF) website.
Programs and services to support your patient
To assist rehabilitation of work-related injury or illness under the Victorian workers compensation legislation, the following programs and services can be delivered in accordance with their related WorkSafe policy.
- Gym and swimming
- Group consultations
- Workplace assessment
- Restricted consultations
- Small stock items
- Network pain management programs
- Provider support
- WorkSafe Advisory service
- WorkSafe webinar modules
Gym and swimming
Exercise programs that are developed and monitored by a health professional for an injured worker to perform independently in a pool or gym for the purpose of rehabilitation. Programs are for a fixed duration, generally three months. A physiotherapist must provide a written request to the Insurance Agent. Written approval is required from the Insurance Agent to the injured worker before a program can commence. The Insurance Agent will advise if the request has been approved or denied within 10 working days. Once a worker's functional condition has stabilised, (as demonstrated by the use of outcome measures), the program will become one of maintenance and the worker will be responsible for self-funding any ongoing or future program. Refer to Gym and swimming programs policy.
Can be provided to a maximum of six patients treated in a class or group session with physiotherapy supervision and attention. Group consultations can occur at practitioner's rooms, the patient's home or workplace or in hydrotherapy sessions. Refer to Policy for physiotherapy.
With the employer's approval, physiotherapists can visit the injured worker's workplace to undertake an assessment. A report is then provided to the employer/ Insurances Agent. Refer to Policy for physiotherapy and the Physiotherapy services fee schedule.
Physiotherapists can apply for approval to provide a restricted consultation (at the practitioner's rooms) for injured workers with moderate to severe acquired brain injuries, crush injuries, extensive burns, spinal cord injuries, multiple orthopaedic fractures and/or amputations. Other complex injuries will be considered on merit. Refer to Policy for physiotherapy.
Small stock items
Can be supplied to injured workers by physiotherapists without approval from the Insurance Agent. Small stock items have a cost price of up to $200 per item. Refer to Policy for equipment and related services.
Network pain management programs
The Network Pain Management Programs (NPMP) helps injured workers to manage their musculoskeletal injuries and persistent pain, and increase their independence at home, work and in the community. If your patient is starting to show signs of persistent pain that is related to their workplace injury you can refer them to a WorkSafe Network Pain Management Provider. Refer to Policy for pain management and the Worksafe website for NPMP provider list and referral form.
WorkSafe Advisory service
WorkSafe webinar Modules
Provide information to support understanding of certification, return to work and the Clinical Framework.
Reports and forms
The treating physiotherapist is required to complete and forward a Physiotherapy Management Plan (PMP) to the Insurance Agent, employer and medical practitioner by the fifth physiotherapy consultation. This is required to notify them of the commencement of physiotherapy services and the proposed management plan.
Physiotherapy forms and templates
The Physiotherapy Management Plan (PMP) template and the Restricted consultation form are available on the WorkSafe website. PMP template may also be available through your practice management software. To order bulk carbon copies of the PMP template, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: WorkSafe Advisory service on 1800 136 089.
All invoices are to include information about the injured worker, the healthcare provider and the services provided.
For invoicing, you need to know the patient's date of injury, accepted condition and entitlements. Your patient should be able to provide you with these details. If not, you can obtain this information from the Insurance Agent. Send the invoice to the employer's Insurance Agent if the employer's excess has been met. If the employer's excess has not been met, send the invoice to the patient's employer. If you are unsure about the employer excess, you can gain information by contacting the employer's Insurance Agent. An Insurance Agent has up to 30 days to process the invoice if the patient has entitlement to physiotherapy treatment.
WorkSafe has five authorised Insurance Agents to manage claims. Physiotherapists will predominately work with the case manager (also known as claim manager).
Early Physiotherapy Intervention Framework
The Early Intervention Physiotherapy Framework (EIPF) is a service model that recognises the importance of early treatment in facilitating return to work and optimal health outcomes. The items numbers and fees vary between physiotherapy and EIPF services. Physiotherapists who are registered to provide services under the EIPF have participated in specific training and declared to treat injured workers in accordance with the principles of the Clinical Framework. Physiotherapists can enrol in the EIPF by completing the required training and signing a declaration to provide services in line with the Clinical Framework.
How do I register to become a physiotherapy provider for WorkSafe
Complete the WorkSafe application for registration to provide services to workers form and include your Physiotherapy Board of Australia registration number. Maintain at all times a minimum of $1 million professional indemnity insurance coverage. A provider number will be provided to you for invoicing purposes.
Return to work flowchart - Identifying and managing barriers
A guide to support physiotherapists treating patients to return work.