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A solution to workforce absenteeism caused by injuries in the workplace

Anyone who has been involved with an injury at work case, be it the injured party, the employer, attending medical professional, legal representative, insurance company or statutory body, will know how onerous and distressing the process can be before it reaches finality.

 “The vast majority of employees and employers are unaware of the consequences of long term absence and disability”, says Lindsay Scott, passionate founder of Workability Rehabilitation Solutions, a business to business healthcare company that provides market leading disability, IOD (injury on duty), return to work and managed care services to corporates, insurers, governmental funders and medical aids.

The impetus behind the establishment of a RTW (Return To Work) Rehab Unit came when she realised that traditional medical physiotherapy and occupational therapy were not catering for the full rehabilitation needs of patients’ with work-related injuries. This opinion has been overwhelmingly supported by international research where functional restoration using a bio-psycho-social approach with work hardening activities achieves superior and more cost effective outcomes as compared to treatment as usual. 

“The challenges in South Africa are that with an unemployment rate of more than 25%, those injured at work are actually employed and need to return to work as soon as possible.

“By not returning to work, the worker has:

  • Socioeconomic losses
  • Loss of the worker role
  • Loss of identity
  • Loss of social contacts

“Research has shown that the unemployed worker is after 6 months, 40x more likely to commit suicide and susceptibleto secondary illnesses like depression and anxiety which equates to:

  • Health risk = smoking 10 packets cigarettes / day 
  • Knock on socio economic impact.

“Many employees who think their income is safe because they  are covered by Workman’s Compensation or company insurance schemes often get a rude awakening when the unthinkable happens!” says Scott, a qualified physiotherapist who started Workability in 2003 as a specialist provider for the treatment and rehabilitation of injured workers, focusing on those at high risk of long-term absence and disability and a thorough understanding COIDA – the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act.

“We like to think we started a revolution in the RTW industry, firstly in the Western Cape where our specialized work rehabilitation centres in Montague Gardens and Brackenfell address all the barriers to achieving a sustainable return to work.

“The barriers to RTW are seldom purely medically but are found at the workplace, in the haphazard medical journey, in the legislation etc.

“Over the past 12 years we have developed our services to provide complete return to work and managed care solutions. We have worked with more than 1000 companies to reduce sickness absence, claims and disability in the workplace” explained Scott.

Innovative IT

Workability has developed innovative technology coupled with tried and tested clinical systems and practices to reduce sickness absence, manage claims and streamline the recovery and return to work process of injured employees for organizations throughout the country.
Initially in the Western Cape, Scott has now expanded Workability’s horizons by partnering with physiotherapy and occupational therapy practices throughout the country offering its Practice Management software and bridging finance to its network partners.

Workability developed systems are in place in practices in Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Kempton Park and most recently in Nelspruit.

“We have developed bespoke physiotherapy and occupational therapy products and services for each market segment we operate in including:

  • Quality managed assessment, treatment and rehabilitation services – to reduce the cost of claims and disability for insurers and governmental funders,
  • Reduce sickness absence and IOD’s for corporate clients and
  • Reduced the cost of treatment for medical aids. 

“All our products provide a significant return on investment and all our clients benefit from a single supplier whom can provide a consistent and quality managed national service” says Scott.

Clinical excellence

Workability employs qualified, trained and experienced medical professionals and uses cutting-edge technology, built on proven clinical guidelines and evidence-based practice to manage claims, sickness absence and disability. Its network partners have access to ongoing training and support through knowledge sharing and case coordination and its IT systems ensure quality and consistency throughout the partner network.

Strategic management information

Through its revolutionary web-based IT system Workability is able to collect accurate and consistent data that is invaluable in identifying particular patterns of claims, absence, IOD’s and underlying causes. It provides unique reports to clients, complete with trends analysis and strategic recommendations for addressing the underlying causes of claims, IOD’s and absence.

Complete integrated solution

Workability provides a complete claims management and IOD RTW solution from the first-day of absence, injury or illness, through to the most chronic cases. It can integrate with client’s existing services such as occupational health, EAP’s, (employee assistance programmes) health benefits / insurances, medical service providers, COID or medical aids to ensure optimal utilization.

Case management

RTW Case Managers oversee the therapists and professionals involved in the Return-To-Work process. This is managed through Workability’s revolutionary web-based IT system that enables the tracking of the patient’s treatment and enforces international guidelines that ensure consistent, goal-orientated treatment.


Through a basket of Assessments targeted at employees at risk of long term absence or disability, RTW Case Managers are able to identifying the barriers preventing employees from returning to work and make recommendations surrounding proposed interventions needed to prevent and manage absenteeism, injury and disability.

Training courses

Workability also offer employer training courses to manage and reducing the risk of absenteeism, injury and disability in the workplace including workshops addressing:

  • Preventative – Generic
  • Preventative – Job-Specific
  • Disability Awareness
  • Back Care
  • Office Ergonomics
  • Work Related Upper Limb Disorders
  • Patient Handling
  • Understanding COID

Concludes Scott; “Workability’s unique approach to screening, assessing and stratifying injured employees ensures that the right patient gets to the right treatment at the right time. Our specialized software and extensive Basket of RTW Products, ensures that all stakeholders involved in a case work towards the same goal of RTW. We have found that not only are our results competitive with international standards but Workability’s cost effective intervention is paired with high levels of stakeholder satisfaction”.

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