Injury management guide for industry

Injury management/back on the job guide for industry

Find out how to prepare for injuries to your staff before they happen, and when they do, how to manage your employee’s injury situation and recovery, whilst limiting the costs associated with their injuries.

The aim of the six stage guide

By returning to work sooner, an employee spends less time sitting at home, gets closer to full pay (remember, their weekly compensation is less 20% of their full pay), is occupied, back with their work mates and on their way to a faster recovery and return to their pre-injury employment. The six stages below have been designed so you can effectively:

  • plan how to prepare for injuries before they happen
  • plan how you will manage the effects on your business
  • gain greater control over your employee’s injury situation and help limit the costs associated with their injuries
  • assist with your employee’s recovery.

To get an overview of what is involved in the six stages, check out the Return to Work checklist (DOC46K) and the Return to Work flowchart (DOC 72K).

To access all the resources mentioned on this page either to make up an injury information pack for your industry or just download, go to the Injury management resources for industry.

Stage 1: Prior to an injury

  • Have a plan in place for when an injury occurs.
  • When a new employee starts working for you go over the procedure for when an injury occurs, setting your expectations. (Use the Workplace Induction Checklist (DOC 50K) as a guide.)
  • Ensure there is an early reporting system in place for any muscular discomfort, pain or injury and respond to any early reports – tackling these issues early can help prevent injury related absences. (Use the Accident/incident/Early reporting DOC 97K.)
  • Prepare injury information packs about your workplace for employees’ to take to the doctor when they are injured at work. Include in this pack a letter to the doctor supported by a written consent from (PDF 20K), signed by your employee, giving you permission to talk to their doctor about their injuries. Provide information in this pack on the alternative duties that your injured employee could do in the workplace.

Stage 2: What to do at the time of injury

Workplace injury
  • With a workplace injury, provide treatment either through first aid, doctor, medical centre or in an emergency, an ambulance.
  • Make sure your manager, supervisor or foreman knows about the incident.
  • Check that the incident is reported, investigated and that you have addressed the cause of the accident to prevent it from occurring again.
  • Serious harm injuries need to be reported to WorkSafe NZ (formerly MBIE/Department of Labour). For a definition of serious harm and what to do if a serious harm injury occurs go to Notification of serious harm and accidents on WorkSafe NZ’s website.
  • Go with your injured employee to the doctor, or ask their supervisor, manager or foreman to go instead. Let the doctor know you are available to discuss any aspect of your injured employee’s job.
    You’re the expert in what happens in your workplace, so you are best placed to provide information in written form (included in your employee’s injury pack) to the doctor, as well as being on hand to answer their queries so they can make an informed decision about when your employee can return to work.
    Other injuries

    An employee unable to do their proper tasks because of an injury that happened outside of work should still take their injury information pack to the doctor, as this includes all the necessary information a doctor might need, eg information about your workplace and the alternative duties available you employee can do.

    It may be that you need to fax the injury information pack through to the doctor after your employee’s visit, or have your employee take it when they next visit.

    Stage 3: Early contact with the injured employee

    • Whether an employee is off with a work or non work injury, call them as soon as practicable to see how they are. During the phone call:
    • be supportive by asking what you can do to help them.
    • Note:
      Pay and job security is always a concern so talk to your employee about their pay and job – see Stage 4 below.
    • ask them what they think they are able to do in the workplace. Reassure them that they don’t need to be 100%, that there are alternative duties available. Discuss what obstacles, if any, might stop them coming back to work.

    Stage 4: Ensure your employee is paid

    • You’ll need to pay the first week of a work injury at 80% of your employee’s normal weekly earnings. If it is a non-work related injury then the employee can take sick leave or annual leave depending on what is available. From day eight onwards we’ll pay them weekly compensation at 80% of their weekly earnings.
    • Find out how long the employee is likely to be away from the workplace, and If it is more than seven days, then as mentioned, they’ll need weekly compensation payments (we’ll need details of their earnings to set the amount correctly – for help download Completing the employer earnings certificate (ACC3) fact sheet (PDF 635K)).
    • Outside of the other benefits, supporting an employee to return to work, even if it’s only for a couple of hours to begin with, may help them receive closer to 100% pay rather than the 80% from weekly compensation. Discuss this with your employee’s case owner.

    Stage 5: Communicate with those involved

    • Stay in contact with your employee on a regular basis, invite them in for morning breaks, any social events or meetings, as this helps them stay in touch with their colleagues and the business.
    • Ask your employee for their ACC case owner details, so you can start arranging for their return to work. If your employee is unsure who their case owner is you can find out for them by calling us directly on 0800 101 996 – make sure you know your employee’s full name and date of birth before you call.
    • Once you have your employee’s ACC case owner details, call them and discuss:
    • any concerns you may have about your employee, eg their job being at risk, performance issues or other barriers which might stop them from returning to work, eg transport problems.
    • your employee’s job and what other alternative duties are available in the workplace for them
    • whether more support might be required to help your employee return to work. For example, clinical support may be provided through an occupational therapist/physiotherapist/occupational health nurse that can visit your work site to help get your injured employee back to work via the Stay at Work service.
    • Speak to your employee’s doctor, discuss any restrictions on their medical certificate, and get more details to help provide a safe environment for your employee. You’ll have your injured employee’s written consent to do this (it’s covered in Stage 1 above).

    Stage 6: Plan, monitor and review the return to work

    • Think about what the injured employee can do before they return to work, refer to the alternative duties list to assist. You can also ask them what they think they can do – they’ll know the demands of their job.
    • When the injured employee does return, sit down with them, their supervisor/manager/foreman and using the Return to work plan and progress report (DOC 76K) work out a plan. All agree on this, then date and sign it.
    • A Return to Work plan may be developed through the Stay at Work provider. This is intended to support and enable an injured worker to recover safely whilst rebuilding their work capability. As the employer you should be involved in this plan.
    • Monitor the employee daily and have weekly catch ups initially to make sure everything is progressing as planned.
    • If the return to work is not working as planned it can be changed, just do it together with the original signatories
    • Store any return to work plans in a secure location with the employee’s personal details.

    Injury management resources for industry

    Get injury management resources specific to your industry by choosing from the list below - if your industry is not listed then access the general injury management resources.


    Woolharvesting (shearing)


    Residential construction

    Reviewed: 19 February 2016
    Updated: 13 March 2014