Suitable Duties Information

The treating Doctor has assessed you as able to return to work performing some but not all of the duties of your normal job or they have assessed that you are able to perform duties that are different to your normal job.

Restrictions have been imposed, for example, advice may have been given that you shouldn’t lift above a certain weight or you shouldn’t reach above a certain height or use certain types of equipment. It is important that you, your supervisor and manager understand that these restrictions have been put in place to prevent aggravation of your injury. Everyone must know and understand the restrictions and abide by them.  Failure to do so may result in aggravation of your injury, which is, obviously of no benefit to anyone. 

Advantages of a Suitable Duties Program

Research has shown that an early return to meaningful work will result in a faster recovery from injury.  This approach was first pioneered by sports coaches who, by providing structured training for the injured athlete, could return them to their sport quicker and healthier than if they just rested. For back injuries it has been proven that any period of rest beyond three days is associated with a worse outcome for the back injury regardless of what caused the back injury.

This approach works because early return to activity:

  • Does not allow the muscles to stiffen up.
  • Does not allow muscles to weaken and cause the entire area to become unstable.
  • Improves the blood flow to the injury, which in turn improves the healing rate. 
  • Helps maintain your general fitness for your normal life.

Responsibilities for Suitable Duties Programs

As the person injured you have a responsibility to follow the Suitable Duties Program including all restrictions. You should discuss with the treating Doctor and/or the rehabilitation officer the restrictions that have been set and how those restrictions would apply in your workplace.

Occasionally people in the workplace may not be aware of or understand the restrictions and may ask you to do things which are outside the Suitable Duties Program.  In this case you have the responsibility not to perform duties outside the restrictions. 

If you are asked to do things outside the restrictions you should initially discuss this with your supervisor or manager and explain to them the contents of your Suitable Duties Program.  If for whatever reason there is a continued difference of opinion then you should take the matter up with your Rehabilitation Officer.