Return to Work review: Return to Work and Vocational Rehabilitation Support for Workers Suffering from Silicosis

Malcolm R. Sim, Alex Collie, Ryan F. Hoy, Graeme Edwards, Sheikh Alif, Deborah Glass, Mary Wyatt, Judith McInnes

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned ReportResearchpeer-review


WorkCover Queensland engaged the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) and Monash University Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health in a joint research literature review in 2019 to understand the current state of knowledge to inform return to work (RTW) and vocational rehabilitation support for workers diagnosed with work-related silicosis or other chronic work-related respiratory conditions and to establish a way that these findings can be effectively translated into policy and practice. The review was divided into two parts, each with different, but complementary, aims and objectives; one part being conducted by a research team led by Monash University and the other part being conducted by a research team led by the UIC.
Monash University investigated the issues arising for workers in the stonemason industry with silicosis and associated respiratory conditions returning to work compared with other workers. A key consideration was how to ensure workers with a diagnosis of silicosis are returning to a safe work environment, and what information is required to manage their return to work.
In order to manage a safe return to work, Monash recommends that Vocational Assessment methods for workers with silicosis need to take a holistic approach to return to work for these workers. An assessment of their respiratory capability is important, but this needs to be supplemented by physical restrictions related to any other associated conditions, such as autoimmune diseases and mental health conditions. A comprehensive assessment of the proposed jobs is also important to identify any potential sources of silica or other respiratory toxins and to ensure compatibility of the worker’s abilities and the demands of the job.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherWorkCover Queensland
Commissioning bodyWorkCover Queensland
Number of pages48
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

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