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Habits Predict Physical Activity on Days When Intentions Are Weak Apr 8th, 2014

Physical activity is regulated by controlled processes, such as intentions, and automatic processes, such as habits. Intentions relate to physical activity more strongly for people with weak habits than for people with strong habits, but people’s intentions vary day by day. Physical activity may be regulated by habits unless daily physical activity intentions are strong. This study suggested that on days when people had intentions that were weaker than typical for them, habit strength was positively related to physical activity, but on days when people had typical or stronger intentions than was typical for them, habit strength was unrelated to daily physical activity. Efforts to promote physical activity may need to account for habits and the dynamics of intentions.

Mothers improve their daughters’ vegetable intake Apr 5th, 2014

An intervention was designed for mothers to provide more vegetables to their daughters’ diet. The self-regulation intervention in mothers led to an increase in vegetable intake among their daughters. Engaging mothers in self-regulatory health promotion programmes may be a feasiblestrategy to facilitate more vegetable intake among their daughters.


A management accounting perspective on safety Apr 5th, 2014


Management accounting supports decision making in organisations by providing managers with relevant information and analysis on the performance, costs, and benefits of a certain operation. For safety-related issues, cost-based calculations dominate practice, and typical measures include cost per injury or the total cost of accidents. Monetary information is needed to guide safety-related decision-making. Besides focusing on financial information, management accounting should also focus on non-financial information, such as safety improvement, strategic safety objectives and employee relations. 

In safety-related investments, the monetary costs of an investment are usually well known, but the monetary value of the benefits is hard to calculate. Thus, there is a need for cost–benefit evaluation methods, including the non-financial benefits and value created though preventing accidents. In addition to calculating the safety investment costs, the efficiency of the improvements, such as productivity improvements, quality and the value of safety goodwill, should be evaluated as well.

The objective of this paper is to chart current management accounting practices related to safety issues on the basis of findings from relevant literature. Moreover, we discuss the applicability of certain management accounting methods for safety-related decision-making and how these can be used to improve current practices further. The relevant methods include the Balanced Scorecard approach, the payback period, the simple rate of return, and the benefit-to-cost ratio. They all offer means of calculating the cost and benefits of safety if the basic problems of uncertainty, valuation, perimeter of analysis, and quantification of costs and benefits are perceived. Valuing human life in cost–benefit analyses is also discussed.



Exercise is medicine - For the body and the brain Mar 27th, 2014


Cognitive decline is one of the most pressing healthcare issues of the 21st century. Worldwide, one new case of major cognitive decline (ie, dementia) is detected every 4 seconds. Given that no effective pharmacological treatment to alter the progress of cognitive decline exists, there is much interest in lifestyle approaches for preventing or treating dementia. One attractive solution that aligns with the above criteria is exercise. However,despite a large and consistent pool of evidence generated over the past five decades linking exercise to improved cognitive functions in older adults, there is a reluctance among academics, healthcare practitioners and the public alike to embrace exercise as a prevention and treatment strategy for cognitive decline. 

Since 2010, we have additional evidence from Random Controled Trials (RCT) that exercise, both moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic and resistance training, promotes cognitive and brain plasticity and have gained further insight into underlying mechanisms. In 2011, Erickson et al demonstrated that aerobic exercise resulted in increased hippocampal volume in healthy communitydwelling older adults. Furthermore,changes in hippocampal volume in the aerobic exercise group were significantly associated with increased spatial memory performance. Voss et al8 demonstrated that aerobic exercise improved the functional connectivity or temporal coherence of brain regions that are functionally related in a network known to deteriorate with ageing.For resistance training, Liu-Ambrose et al demonstrated increased functional plasticity after 12 months of training with corresponding improvement in selective attention and conflict resolution in healthy older women. Among older women with Mild Cognitive Impairment, Nagamatsu et al demonstrated that 6 months of resistance training led to improved executive functions, spatial memory and associative memory with concurring functional plasticity. In the same study, the authors also found that aerobic training improved verbal memory and learning.

Conclusion: Exercise should be promoted as an essential component of healthy ageing given that reducing physical inactivity by 25% could prevent as many as one million cases of dementia worldwide.



  1. Erickson KI, Voss MW, Prakash RS, et al. Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2011;108:3017–22.

  2. Voss MW, Prakash RS, Erickson KI, et al. Plasticity of brain networks in a randomized intervention trial of exercise training in older adults. Front Aging Neurosci 2010;2,pii:32.

  3. Liu-Ambrose T, Nagamatsu LS, Graf P, et al. Resistance training and executive functions: a 12-month randomized controlled trial. Arch Intern Med 2010;170:170–8.

  4. Nagamatsu LS, Handy TC, Hsu CL, et al. Resistance training promotes cognitive and functional brain plasticity in seniors with probable mild cognitive impairment. Arch Intern Med 2012;172:666–8.

  5. Nagamatsu LS, Chan A, Davis JC, et al. Physical activity improves verbal and spatial memory in older adults with probable mild cognitive impairment: a 6-month randomized controlled trial. J Aging Res 2013,2013:861893.


Older Workers - How are the Japanese looking after their aging workforce Mar 26th, 2014

Unique efforts of the Japanese industries in meeting the needs of the super-aged society are introduced through their association with International Association for Universal Design (IAUD). Considerations are made on how successes were brought about, what can be learned as well as what issues should be addressed in the future.

What’s the best diet for weight loss? Mar 25th, 2014


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When it comes to weight loss, there are no magic tricks that guarantee success. What works for you is likely to be different to what works for your partner, neighbour or workmate. The best advice is to find a healthy eating regime – let’s call it a diet – that you can stick to. You may choose a specific diet book or commercial program to kick start your weight loss, but in the longer term, switch to an eating pattern you can live with for good.

The diet that works best will depend on many factors: your current weight, dieting history, how much weight you need to lose, reasons for wanting to lose weight, your knowledge and skills around food preparation and nutrition, personal supports and the time you have to focus on weight loss.

But first, a warning about fad diets.

Fad diets can work in the short-term because they lead to a reduction in total kilojoules but are usually nutritionally inadequate. They often ban specific foods or food groups, such as carbohydrates, and promise miraculous results. Or they may promote unproven fat burning or other supplements. Fad diets generally contradict advice from credible health professionals. Research shows the more radical the diet approach, the more likely you are to give up because of boredom or unpleasant side-effects including bad breath, constipation, and even gall bladder disease.




Seasonal Fruit Chart - Click for Printout Mar 25th, 2014

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Seasonal Vegetable Chart - Click for Printout Mar 25th, 2014


Breaking up prolonged sitting with walking improves blood sugar levels Mar 24th, 2014

This study suggests that interrupting sitting time with frequent brief bouts of light-intensity activity, but not standing, imparts beneficial postprandial responses that may enhance cardiometabolic health. These findings may have importance in the design of effective interventions to reduce cardiometabolic disease risk.

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Steps to progress difficult Workers Compensation Claims Mar 23rd, 2014
Circumstances like the injured worker regularly getting no work capacity certificates without reporting any difficulties to their supervisor; maintaining they cannot do certain tasks despite apparently being within their certified work capacity; making requests of the Doctor to certify them to not work in certain areas/ locations; wanting to come in early and leave early on their reduced hours; requesting to work Monday to Wednesday for the 3 days they are certified for despite the Tuesday and Thursday being proposed as ‘rest days’ given their injury.

What to do?

1.  Engage with the Nominated Treating Doctor (NTD)

If you haven’t already you need to do whatever it takes to get the NTD to see you are not the ‘enemy’. Letting the NTD know you are committed to the early, safe and sustained return to work of their patient by sending the NTD details of the injured worker’s Return to Work Plan or arranging a Case Conference.

2.  Get a Second Opinion

It is important to have objective information on the injured worker’s current work capacity e.g. is there an issue that has not been addressed, does treatment need to change, is there fear of re-injury.  You could use your Preferred Medical Advisor or ask your insurer to arrange an Vocational Rehabilitation Referral.  It is important you do this ASAP as the longer a RTW Plan is not closely managed the harder it is to get it back on track and the more impact on the workplace culture.

3.  Know the Nominated Treating Doctor does not Run Your Business.

It is the domain of the NTD to diagnose and advise on work capacity, treatment and prognosis.  The NTD does not have the mandate to dictate which section someone works in or where they are located except maybe if there is a psych issue or genuine travel restriction but even then those can probably be managed in collaboration with the NTD like a co-worker collects the person.

4.  Develop a Detailed Return to Work Plan

The RTW Plan should detail all the information that is relevant to the injured worker such as their work capacity, suitable duties, hours and days of work and what they should do if they can’t adhere to it.  Points such as when the person starts and finishes, how they get to work (if travel is an issue), who they report to, what they do on the designated breaks (are they supposed to be resting, can they smoke?), when they attend physio and what time they leave and return for the appointment.  You get the drift I am sure.

5.  Monitor the RTW Plan Closely

As the RTW Co-ordinator it is your job to ensure the RTW Plan is relevant, progressing and adhered to.  Contact the injured worker every time they advise they have no work capacity to ensure the RTW Plan is still suitable, collaborate with the treatment providers and Insurer as well as engage with the NTD to keep the RTW Plan progressing.

6. Remember the Injuried Employee also has Responsibilities!


Optimal handle position for boxes Mar 22nd, 2014
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Previous studies indicate that Manual Material Handling (MMH) is not only the most frequent but also the most costly category of compensable loss in the workplace. Handles on objects are very important for enhancing the safety and efficiency of manual handling for people who use them. In this study, four different prototype boxes with auxiliary handles were designed to determine the optimal handle position of a box based on the evaluated user preferences and body part discomfort. The results show that the subjects preferred the upper part of the handle on a small box regardless of handling position; while the mid to upper parts of the handle on a big box were preferred for handling above the waist height. BPD also indicated that an upper handle was less stressful for a relatively smaller box than a big one; and mid to upper handles were less comfortable for a big box.Box

Conclusions: this study found that upper handles on boxes were the most appropriate in many MMH cases, but for bulky boxes or stacking heights above the waist level, there was a need to design a box with both upper and middle handles. It also should be considered that a different handling position may require a middle or lower handle.


10 Reasons Why Injured Workers become Chronic Claims Mar 20th, 2014
Some injuries take longer to heal due to the nature of the injury and management. However following are 10 psychosocial factors that lead to poor workers compensation outcomes. 

1. They Choose the Wrong Doctor

Just because the Family Doctor got them through the coughs and colds it does not mean their Dr is equipped to best treat their work-related back injury. Best practice in the management of workers with soft tissue injuries includes early return to work and advice to stay active and yet many Nominated Treating Doctors persist in certifying these patients with no work capacity. This results in deconditioning, detachment from the workplace and distress for both the worker and employer. It is important to realise the Health Benefits of Work.

A Doctor skilled in Occupational Health is Vital

2.Their Employer Does Not Take Control of Injury Management and RTW

In the absence of a well trained and supported RTW Co-ordinator and effective injury management and return to work procedures an injured worker chooses their Family Doctor as the Nominated Treating Doctor that is the first mistake.  The second one is to for the Employer to totally rely on the Agent to drive the process.

3. Referral to Rehabilitation is Delayed

It’s a fact the earlier an injured worker gets assistance to return to work the better the outcome.  Clearly this makes good business sense as someone sitting at home with an injury is not thinking good thoughts not to mention the impact on the NSW employer’s premium.  However the it does appear to improve outcomes for patients also.

4. The System Makes Them Sicker

Liability is obviously a big issue in the workers compensation system meaning injured workers might have to attend a raft of assessments that can overmedicalise their condition.  So what might have started out as a simple injury starts to feel like something very serious.  In any case if you are not back at work then you need to prove that you actually cannot work that entrenches the sick role.  Sadly too there is often no-one on the team telling them otherwise.

5. They Lack the Health Literacy to Make Themselves Better

Injured workers can tend to not ask questions of their Doctors as they are used to doing as they are told and after all it is a common assumption Doctors do leap tall buildings and catch speeding bullets in their teeth.  Some Doctors might even speak with God.  Low health literacy reduces the success of treatment and increases the risk of medical error.

6. Pain must mean there is Something Seriously Wrong with Me

The evidence that tissue pathology does not explain chronic pain is overwhelming and yet injured workers who have been badly managed and managed themselves badly end up in this hopeless cycle of inactivity and inaction for fear they will make themselves worse.  Some even have needless surgery because that’s what their Doctors suggested – refer to the assumption of speaking with God.

7. They Want to be 100% Better

We all age and our bodies endure wear and tear so when an injury happens there might be underlying features that made the worker prone to such an injury and in fact it easily could have happened at home where there would be no liabiity.  The issue is aches and pains go with wearing out and 100% better is not achievable.

8. They Think the Employer Should Pay

Anger can be a big factor in Chronic Pain.  My employer did this to me and I am going to make them pay.  It’s a pity the injured worker can trash their own life in the process.

9. They Persist with Unhelpful Treatment because the Employer is Paying.

It’s like the company car that goes from reverse to first at 50 kph if someone else is paying the bill then you won’t be judicious about what are the benefits and the value of what you are getting.  Poor health literacy also does not help.  Persisting with passive physiotherapy for example even makes you worse as you decondition and it entrenches the sick role.

10. Some People Don’t want to Go Back to Work

Sadly a workers’ compensation lifestyle can very quickly and easily prevail.  You don’t have to perform and you get to pick up the kids from school so the by the time your pay drops it is not such an issue and anyway you have sort of painted yourself into a corner.

Health Benefits of Work Mar 20th, 2014

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The Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM), a Faculty of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), is pleased to introduce the Australian and New Zealand Consensus Statement on the Health Benefits of Work. Realising the Health Benefits of Work presents compelling international and Australasian evidence that work is generally good for health and wellbeing, and that long term work absence, work disability and unemployment generally have a negative impact on health and wellbeing. Realising the health benefits of work for all Australians requires a paradigm shift in thinking and practice. It necessitates cooperation between many stakeholders, including government, employers, unions, insurance companies, legal practitioners, advocacy groups, and the medical, nursing and allied health professions.

The following are the fundamental principles of the above document in regards to the relationship between health and work:

  1. Work is generally good for health and wellbeing;

  2. Long term work absence, work disability and unemployment have a negative impact on health and wellbeing;

  3. Work is an effective means of reducing poverty and social exclusion;

  4. Work must be safe so far as is reasonably practicable.

  5. Work practices, workplace culture and work-life balance are key determinates of individual health, wellbeing and productivity;

  6. Individuals seeking to enter the workforce for the first time, seeking reemployment or attempting to return to work after a period of injury or illness, face a complex situation with many variables.Good outcomes are more likely when individuals understand the health benefits of work, and are empowered to take responsibility for their own situation; and

  7. Health professionals exert a significant influence on work absence and work disability, particularly in relation to medical sickness certification practices

Lap Banding and Obesity Mar 20th, 2014

DIETITIANS and EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGIST  play a vital role in optimising outcomes for people undergoing bariatric procedures. Bariatric surgery provides substantial and sustained weight loss and ameliorates obesity-related chronic disease risk factors in morbidly obese patients However this comes at the risk of complications such as nutritional deficiencies, food intolerance and further operations. What nutritional factors need to be considered pre- and post-bariatric surgery and what recommendations should health professionals make?

Bariatric procedures change the gastrointestinal system and its normal functions, affecting ingestion, digestion and absorption of food and nutrients. As a result, less food and energy are consumed, malabsorption of nutrients occurs and the body uses existing fat stores leading to weight loss. The NHMRC recognises that bariatric surgery is more effective in achieving weight loss in adults with obesity than nonsurgical weight loss interventions.  Weight loss is substantial: approximately 20—30% of body weight in people with a BMI > 35. 

As a result, obesity comorbidities — such as cardiovascular disease, dyslipidaemia, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, chronic renal disease, gastro-oesophageal reflux, polycystic ovarian syndrome, non-alcohol fatty liver disease, obstructive sleep apnoea and overall mortality risks — are reduced. It is difficult to establish however whether improvements are due to the weight loss itself, or changes in hormone balance, metabolism, pressure dynamics and mechanics caused by the bariatric surgery. 

Bariatric ops

Bariatric surgery can be considered for those morbidly obese adults who have tried all other methods of weight loss and repeatedly failed, and their mortality risk from chronic diseases is greatly increased. 

The four main surgical procedures performed in Australia are: 

Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB),

Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB)

Sleeve gastrectomy 

Biliopancreatic diversion. 

Dietitian’s role with bariatric patients

Accredited Practising Dietitians (APDs) are well qualified to undertake:

preoperative dietary assessments, including screening for nutritional deficiencies and treatment with supplements

commencing preoperative weight loss plans using VLCDs

post-surgery dietary assessments

counselling on progression of diet consistency

continual long-term review of nutrient markers

prescribing and reinforcing supplements

encouraging mindful eating.

Exercise Physiologist's role with bariatric patients

An exercise program is also a necessary part of the postoperative routine. Along with diet compliance, exercise helps prevent weight regain and maintain weight loss.





Obesity caused one in eight hospital admissions for women Mar 20th, 2014
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Obesity caused by poor lifestyle choices such as diet are the cause of one in eight hospital admissions for women over 50-years-old, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Oxford found that hospital admissions for women over 50 are commonly caused by issues to do with obesity or being overweight, and that these issues accounted for around 2 million days in hospital a year. 

The research was part of the Million Women Study, one of the biggest health research projects currently taking place in the UK.



101 Reasons To Exercise - Are your reasons on here? Mar 19th, 2014


Dietitian Talk this Friday 21st March at 11.30am Mar 19th, 2014

Temika Lee's next Dietitian Talk is on Friday 21st March 2014, 11.30am at Central West Health & Rehabilitation in Geraldton. This talk is free for gym members and people who are completing Central West Health & Rehab's Diabetes Management and Chronic Disease Prevention programs.

This talk covers:

  • Healthy Eating Habits

  • Glycemic Index

  • Fat Types and Cholesterol

  • Recipe Modification Label Reading

Unhealthy fat consumption advice too ‘simplistic’ Mar 18th, 2014
logoGuidelines urging people to eat less "unhealthy" fat may be too simplistic, new research suggests. In a meta-analysis of data from 72 studies involving more than 600,000 participants from 18 countries, researchers found no overall association between saturated fat consumption and heart disease, contrary to current advice.

In addition, levels of "healthy" polyunsaturated fats such as omega 3 and omega 6 had no general effect on heart disease risk. But different specific strains of fat did have some impact. Two kinds of saturated fat found in palm oil and animal products were weakly associated with heart disease, while a dairy fat called margaric acid was significantly protective. Similarly, two types of omega-3 fatty acid found in oily fish – EPA and DHA – and the omega-6 fat arachidonic acid were linked to a lower risk of heart disease.

Popular omega-3 and omega-6 supplements appeared to have no benefit.


What is more important walking speed or duration? Mar 18th, 2014

With aging of the population chronic heart failure (HF) hasbecome a major health issue throughout the world. This study aimed to assess the association between walking and other leisure time PA and Heart Failure in a large population study with repeated examination and more than 30 years follow-up with emphasis on the independent effects of speed and duration of walking. 

Conclusions: the results suggest that intensity rather than duration may be important for risk reduction with the lowest risks seen in those reporting high speeds of walking.

Do you have a Injury Management Policy? Mar 16th, 2014
reference graphicAmong other things, the Western Australian workers’ compensation system requires every employer to:

Have workers’ compensation cover for all workers (penalties apply for avoidance).

Have a documented Injury Management Policy and Injury Management System outlining the steps the employer will take if a worker is injured and the contact details of the person who will have day-to-day responsibility for the Injury Management System.

What is an injury management policy?

An injury management policy reflects an employer’s commitment to the principles of injury management and return-to-work and forms the basis for your injury management program. Your injury management policy should focus on and address injury management and returntowork issues.

What should an employer include in an injury management policy?

Ideally, your Injury Management Policy should:

reflect your commitment to the principles of effective injury management and return to work for injured/ill workers; promoting the principles of early reporting, early intervention, injury management and the return to work hierarchy as specified in the Workcover WA Return to Work and Injury Management Model.

state your commitment to the development and implementation of an Injury Management Program, which is supplemented by written procedures, readily available in the workplace, identifying the roles, rights and responsibilities of all parties.

include the right of an injured/ill worker to choose their own ‘Accredited’ Primary Treating Medical Practitioner and participate in the selection of their Accredited Workplace Rehabilitation Provider.

require return to work plans and injury management plans be developed in consultation with all parties in accordance with the Injury Management Program.

be appropriate to the nature and scale of your organisation, be written so that it is easily understood by employees and capable of being implemented in your workplace. The policy should be developed in consultation with, and endorsed by, all workplace parties with provision for input by unions if requested by workers.

be consistent with the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981 and the Workers’ Compensation Code of Practice (Injury Management) 2005, other supporting legislation and guidelines and your insurers Injury Management Policy; the policy should also be consistent with your health and safety policy and other management systems.

promote continuous improvement and be reviewed regularly (annually) to demonstrate your commitment to the policy and to ensure it remains consistent with the Injury Management Program Guidelines.

be explained to all new workers joining your organisation and be displayed prominently in appropriate locations so your workers can easily read it.

While inititally daunting Central West Health and Rehabilitation IMS Assessment process can assist you to meet your Workcover WA Obligations.

Contact Us for cost effective assistance.



Workplace Based Return-to-Work Programs Mar 15th, 2014
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Employers, insurers and workers’ groups have expressed a growing interest in return-to-work (RTW) interventions after injury or illness. As disability management is increasingly being integrated into employers’ and insurers’ mandates, there has been a focus on workplace-based RTW interventions. This paper is a systematic review conducted to review the effectiveness of workplacebased RTW interventions. There was strong evidence that work disability duration is significantly reduced by work accommodation offers and contact between healthcare provider and workplace;and moderate evidence that it is reduced by interventions which include early contact with worker by workplace, ergonomic work site visits, and presence of a RTW coordinator.

Conclusions: This systematic review provides the evidence base supporting that workplace-based RTW interventions can reduce work disability duration and associated costs. 

For more on our IMS Assessment please contact us.


Walking to work and adult physical activity levels Mar 15th, 2014

One approach to increasing physical activity levels is to promote active travel i.e. walking and cycling. There is increasing evidence of the link between adult obesity levels and travel behaviour, one indicator of which is that countries with highest levels of active travel generally have the lowest obesity rates. The objective of this study was to examine the contribution to adult physical activity levels of walking to work. Total weekday physical activity was 45% higher in participants who walked to work compared to those travelling by car. 

Conclusions: Walking to work was associated with overall higher levels of physical activity in young and middle-aged adults.



Return To Work - Optimizing the Role of Stakeholders Mar 15th, 2014


Work disability is now conceptualized as a function of organizational, jurisdictional and social influences, rather than as primarily medically determined. Return-to-work (RTW) interventions are no longer restricted to clinic-based medical interventions: insurers have become involved through case managers; employers have realized that organizational policies impact RTW outcomes; and providers have become interested in expanding their involvement to achieve better outcomes. There is growing consensus that while attending to the physical/medical aspects of the work disabled employee is important, much of the variability in RTW outcomes is accounted for by what takes place at the workplace. There is increasing evidence of greater effectiveness ofworkplace-based interventions as opposed to interventions provided outside the workplace. Organizational factors are also known to have significant impact on work disability costs. To reduce insurance or disability costs and ensure compliance with a growing number of government regulations concerning workplace safety and disability, employers have been increasingly interested in improving their disability management practices.

This study analyzes the RTW stakeholder interests and suggests that friction is inevitable; however, it is possible to encourage stakeholders to tolerate paradigm dissonance while engaging in collaborative problem solving to meet common goals. We review how specific aspects of RTW interventions can be instrumental in resolving conflicts arising from differing paradigms: calibration of stakeholders’ involvement, the role of supervisors and of insurance case managers, and procedural aspects of RTW interventions.


Why diets often fail? Mar 11th, 2014

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Almost everyone who has tried to lose weight has tasted the bitter pill of failure. That feeling you get when, despite all your desires to be healthier, to fit into sassier clothes or to shimmy through life (and into aeroplane seats) with greater ease and comfort, you just can’t stick with your diet and exercise plans for long enough to get there.

People failing to lose weight frequently blame themselves, as does almost everyone around them. In fact, even a sizeable proportion of health professionals consider obesity to be an individual failing. But this attitude displays complete ignorance of human physiology and how it impacts weight loss. 


Must Dos before you dismiss an ill or injured worker Mar 11th, 2014
If you have an ill or injured worker, you might think that it is in your best interest to get them back into the workplace and working as quickly as possible - but this is not always the case. Early return to work is not always the right approach; it can agitate and extend an issue that could have been resolved in a shorter time with more rest.

The decision to return a worker to work should be based on what the worker is capable of safely doing when they return to work.

The decision about when a worker should return to work should be made with consultation between management, the worker, and after seeking professional medical advice.

What if the worker is not fit for their pre-injury duties?

If you determine (with the advice of a medical professional) that the worker will not become fit for their pre-injury duties for the foreseeable future, you will need to decide whether:

  • you can offer the worker ongoing employment in a modified role to accommodate their condition; or

  • you are going to terminate their employment.

If both parties agree to the modified duties, then a new contract of employment can be drawn up. If this is the case, you can set goals that you and the injured worker have agreed on to ensure there is a clearly communicated expectation that the injured worker will return to their pre-injury duties.

Remember, if a worker continues on modified duties for a prolonged period with no current plan to return to their pre-injury duties, it is arguable that the worker has been permanently appointed to a new role. When this occurs, the worker's old contract of employment is effectively terminated and replaced with a new one.

If this were the case, you would be unable to dismiss the worker on the basis that they are permanently unable to return to their original position, as they have been appointed to a new role.

7 things you MUST do before dismissing an ill or injured worker

Employers are generally prohibited from dismissing an employee because of incapacity due to illness or injury. However, there are certain circumstances in which you can dismiss an employee who is ill or injured.

Before you terminate an injured worker, you must ensure that you do the following things:

  1. Obtain sound medical evidence regarding the worker's incapacity.

  2. Determine, and be able to prove, that the worker is unable to perform the job they were employed to perform.

  3. Determine, and be able to prove, that there is no reasonable measure you can take to accommodate the worker's injury or illness.

  4. Do not create an expectation in the worker that you will provide them with modified duties on an ongoing basis.

  5. Give the worker an opportunity to respond to the allegation that they are unfit for their duties and to the intention to terminate their employment.

  6. Consider the worker's length of service, employment history and the impact of dismissal on them.

  7. Check that you have no obligation to provide suitable employment under the workers' compensation legislation in your jurisdiction.