Disability management in a sample of Australian self-insured companies
Disability management (DM) is a term developed in North America and refers to the prevention and management of injury and illness in the workplace. The purpose of this paper is to report findings of an Australian study that examined whether self-insured employers in that country have implemented integrated DM programmes. Key principles underpinning such programmes are explored to identify the extent to which Australian employers have adopted them.
Data was collected from 29 self-insured Australian companies in three Australian States using a structured interview format with additional open-ended questions.
It was found that companies have in place, to varying degrees, some of the key elements of disability management programmes. However, these elements were often not well integrated in a comprehensive disability management approach. The focus on workplace-based, early intervention in the area of return to work for injured employees was particularly strong, but there was little evidence of formal labour-management committee structures responsible for implementing DM programmes.
If the concept of DM is relevant to the Australian environment then this study would suggest that self-insured companies need to undertake further work to develop integrated approaches to preventing and managing disability in the workplace. Several limitations of this study are highlighted and it is concluded that further work in this area is needed.