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26th January 2016

Getting Injured staff back to work

A member of staff has suffered a serious injury. Although he’s not able to operate at full capacity, he feels fit enough to return to work. How should you manage the return to work process?

Don’t want to be off?

A member of staff suffered an ankle injury about four weeks ago. Although he didn’t suffer any broken bones, his ankle is badly bruised and swollen.

Despite the fact that his injury hasn’t fully healed, he has contacted you and asked to come back to work. He said that sitting at home is driving him mad and he would rather do something meaningful. So can you allow him to come back?

Get medical advice

Before allowing your member of staff to return to work, ask him to seek medical opinion on whether it’s safe to do so. On his return he should be able to present you with a fit note that confirms it’s safe.

Because your employee is still injured, the fit note is almost certain to suggest that he shouldn’t be considered fit to complete his full duties. However, don’t expect the document to give you any details as to what light/alternative duties will be suitable for him.

Identify appropriate duties

To identify what duties he can do, carry out a risk assessment.

Make sure that both parties are satisfied with the findings of the risk assessment. You must insist that the injured employee signs the document to confirm that you have taken reasonable steps not to put him at risk. Although this may seem over the top, going to this level of detail will protect you from any claim that you have knowingly put the injured party at unnecessary risk.

Don’t forget that you are under no obligation to allow the employee back to work early. Only allow him to return when it is deemed safe for him to do so.


 What can you do?

As the injured party will be in the best position to understand what impact his injury has on his capabilities, your starting point is to ask him what he can do.

If he starts reeling off a long list of things he can’t do, this should start alarm bells ringing. If you don’t think that you will be able to accommodate him safely, you must make this clear. Suggest that you will review the situation as soon as he feels fitter.

Avoid tasks requiring manual handling, work at height and standing for prolonged periods, or those which require wearing protective footwear.

As the injured party has restricted mobility, complete a personal emergency evacuation plan (PEEP). This will ensure that he can escape from the premises in the event of a fire.

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