12:50 pm, Monday 7 May, 2012
An injured truck driver calls on employers to focus on a worker’s skills and experience instead of their injury.
Stephen Morgan is calling on businesses to consider other employment options after he was employed through a WorkSafe program that matches vacancies with workers who are not able to return to their old jobs after suffering an injury.
The 45-year-old man from Teesdale said that despite having undergone back surgery years before to treat his injury, his days of manually unloading goods were over.
“It was a frustrating feeling knowing I had the skills to do the job but had limitations on my physical capability,” said Mr Morgan.
“Not working started to affect my wellbeing; I just wanted to get back into it. The reality is there are a lot of people out there, like me, who want the same.”
Luckily, Mr Morgan was eligible to be registered with WISE – a WorkSafe Incentive Scheme for Employers that encourages businesses to hire injured workers who cannot return to their original job. Employers who provide ongoing employment are paid up to $26,000 over a year.
Pineville Enterprises discovered WISE through Mr Morgan after he called them to enquire about a truck driver job vacancy they advertised through a local paper.
“I wasn’t quite sure how they were going to react after I told them about my situation and about the WISE program but to my surprise, I was asked to come in for a job interview and they made a decision to sign up,” said Mr Morgan.
Since the role didn’t require him to manually unload goods, he was considered a suitable match and was hired in July 2010, four months after his injury.
“There is a perception out there that there are risks involved with hiring someone who has been injured, which makes it hard for us to get back into the workforce,” Mr Morgan said.
“Fortunately, Pineville were able to look beyond the injury and offer me an opportunity to work with them.
“They recognised my existing skills could add value to their company and while dealing with the injury is an ongoing process, it’s great to work for a company that continue to be supportive and understanding.
For me, it was great to get back to work because I could get back to doing what I enjoy while continuing to support my family.”
Stephen’s employer, Brett Ormesher encouraged other employers to consider hiring injured workers.
“There’s a pool of qualified and skilled workers out there who, for various reasons, cannot return to their old jobs but are more eager than ever to get back into the workforce,” said Mr Ormesher.
“Stephen has been a great addition to the team and he is still working for us. You have more time to get other things done and focus on business operations.”
Signing up was easy and it’s a good feeling knowing we were able to help Stephen out along the way. It’s worked out very well for everyone involved.”
WorkSafe’s Return to Work Division Director Ross Jones encouraged employers to support WISE.
“It provides employers with a financial boost up to $26,000 and injury insurance protection for workers if they suffer a new injury for the first 12 months of employment,” said Mr Jones.
“On top of that, if there is a recurrence with the existing injury, all costs and any premium rest with the previous employer.”
Most of the 29,000 workers injured at work in Victoria each year return to their old jobs quickly, but some cannot go back to their old job or employer.
“The WISE program can help match jobs with people who are skilled, experienced and keen to work.”
“We want companies which have a vacancy to consider WISE and for treatment providers, occupational rehabilitation providers and injured workers to discuss the program as an option.”
“As Stephen’s story pointed out, the end result can be rewarding for all involved.”
More information about the WISE program can be found at the WorkSafe website.
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