Those who get injured on the job will soon find it easier to return to the workforce. As part of the new “Return to Work” programme, public hospitals will appoint particular staff to coordinate with doctors and employers to help the injured workers get back on their feet and recover sooner.
Under the scheme rolled out by Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan on Wednesday (Nov 1), the employers will also receive financial support from the government if they need to modify their premises to accommodate the injured workers. Mr Tan said that the programme will provide ‘early intervention’ to make sure that real action is taken to help injured workers and their employers, such that the workers can recuperate and return to work as soon as possible.
He added, “Injured workers do not have to wait for complete recovery before returning to work. As long as they are medically stabilised, work can be part of the recovery process as long as work modifications are made to accommodate the injured workers’ functional capacity.”
Dr Sylvia Teo, a principal occupational safety and health specialist at the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) who is the director of the programme, said that the possibility of an injured worker returning to work tends to decrease with time, regardless of the cause.
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A study conducted by MOM in 2014 found that from 407 local workers who were injured, about three in four of them eventually returned to work. Seven in10 of those who got back to the workforce did not see any changes to their job scopes, while the other eight in 10 experienced difficulties such as fatigue and lack of support from the employers.
In September this year, Tan Tock Seng Hospital was the first public hospital to organise trained coordinators to help injured workers. Meanwhile, a total of 40 such coordinators will be trained and deployed across the seven public hospitals by the end of next year, Straits Times reports.
Besides these coordinators, employers can also receive subsidies of up to 90 percent, which covers $1,000 for each worker, when they have to make adjustments in the workplace to accommodate their injured workers. Additionally, they can also claim up to $7,000 per worker if they need to hire consultants to evaluate the workers’ recovery and assess whether the workplaces need to be modified to put up with them.
These grants are in addition to the $36,000 for medical expenses that can be claimed for each injured worker under the Work Injury Compensation Act.
For the first semester of 2017, there are a total of 6,132 workers injured at work, down slightly from 6,203 in the same period last year. Among these numbers, as much as 268 workers suffered major injuries such as burns and fractures.
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