GTS gets proactive with injured workers

GTS Freight Management gets proactive in helping injured staff return to work as soon as possible

By Ruza Zivkusic | September 30, 2011

GTS Freight Management is pouring time and effort into getting injured drivers back to work as soon as possible under an approach that is benefiting staff and the company.

The Victorian-based operator says it is a great believer in getting injured employees back to work as soon as possible, telling ATN it is ideal in helping them maintain self-respect and esteem.

GTS says 10 employees out of its workforce of 200 were injured in the past two years. Driver manager Graeme Adair has been working hard trying to find jobs for them, saying any work helps.

"We are always looking to get the person back to their normal duties but it may take several different steps of duties before you get there," Adair says.

"It is more cost effective if we can get these guys back to work. If they’re at home on workcover because I have no duties for them then it’s affecting our work premium but also getting them out of the house they have some people to talk to and they feel like they’re part of the team which helps their recovery."

Driver David Knight recently fell out of a truck due weakness in his hand caused by fibrosis. His operation is due next month but the 44-year-old driver is sorting out the company’s books in the meantime and helps out with administrative tasks.

He says his new role is eye-opening and makes him appreciate what goes on behind the scenes.

"It is something new and it gives you a better light of what goes on because I’m out there on the yard all the time I don’t get to see what goes on," Knight says.

"I’m actually enjoying it and it’s something new to me and a change is as good as a holiday."

Knight, who says returning to work lifted his spirits, tells ATN his recovery would have likely taken longer had GTS not given him in-house duties.

"I live week by week at home and if they never had anything for me here it makes it hard because we have to keep the cashflow rolling and I would have to go and find something else to do which most likely would be manual labour and I’d have to use my hand more," he says.

Meanwhile, WorkSafe Victoria says a new toolkit made up of customisable templates, checklists and forms is helping injured truck drivers return to work.

WorkSafe Director Dorothy Frost says it is important employers understand and comply with return to work obligations.

She says road transport industry is one of eight high risk industries the department is is targeting as part of a year-long enforcement blitz.

More than 5560 injury claims came from the industry over the past five years, with treatment and rehabilitation costs paid through their workplace injury insurance exceeding $155 million.

"Obviously prevention is the best cure and more needs to be done to ensure as many of these injuries don’t happen but for those workers who are injured on the job, getting back to work sooner is good for them and it’s good for the business," Frost says.

"An early return to work reduces claim costs and keeps the cost of a business’s injury insurance premium down."

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