WorkSafe’s Incentive Scheme for Employers
program (WISE) links employers with experienced people who have been hurt at work, but who cannot return to their old employer.
Allmore Constructions has taken on Alex Sullivan, a former brickies labourer, who, after years of carrying bricks, pushing barrows and working with mortar, needed operations on each shoulder and a lengthy period off work for post-surgery recovery.
Through WISE, Alex has joined Allmore as an assistant site manager and health and safety representative.
Allmore’s OHS manager, Mick Grollo, said it was a good commercial decision.
“First off, we’ve got someone who’s been in the industry, understands it and what’s required. Second, return to work is all about getting guys back on track and doing what they like doing.
“Alex had a chat with his physio to find out how his shoulder was getting on. As a result, he was able to get back to work and is a useful member of our team. We’d recommend WISE.”
Alex said it was demoralising being at home after the two operations.
“Mentally it’s very hard to sit at home and do nothing. After being off work for a while it’s good to be out and working again.
“The company has been very helpful and understanding and the OHS courses I did while I was away have been useful as a HSR. In a way, I’ve moved up as a result of my injury and returning to work.”
The director of WorkSafe’s Return to Work division, Dorothy Frost, said if more employers signed up for WISE, the impact of the skills shortage on the construction industry could be reduced.
“There’s an enormous ‘hidden workforce’ with experience working in the trades. Many of these people, like Alex, have a strong desire to get back to work but for some reason can’t return to their old employer.
“Most of the 28,000 people injured at work in Victoria each year get back to work quickly - but we’re battling misconceptions that an injured person has to be totally fit to return to the workforce and that they can only return to their old job.”
“Through WISE we can demonstrate that people are a business’s greatest asset and that looking at all your options can be worthwhile”, said Ms Frost
Businesses looking for good people can register for WISE online. If you have a vacancy, all you need to do is describe the sort of work that is available - not necessarily full-time - and some information about the job.
If a suitable person is found, the prospective employer can go through their normal recruiting process and there’s also extra support available for employers.
“Before starting a job through WISE, an assessment can be performed by an occupational rehabilitation expert to ensure that the duties are safe for the worker to perform. This reduces any concerns new employers may have”, said Ms Frost
“The added benefit of people returning to work is that the impact on their self–esteem and health are lessened. This can really help to reduce the cost of workplace injuries for businesses and the community”.
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