injury rehabilitation, work capacity assessmentWhat is it?

This assessment is a task analysis of the functional requirements of a worker’s pre-injury job or proposed suitable duties. It is a comprehensive assessment of the worker’s individual circumstances. The component tasks of the worker’s job and the functional requirements of each task are identified. The frequency of undertaking each task is also assessed. The assessment must as a minimum undertake the following information gathering activities:

  • Discussion with the worker, treating doctor and supervisor e.g. review and confirmation of the description of tasks.
  • Assess and observe the duties undertaken in a particular job to identify the physical, cognitive and emotional demands of the job
  • frequency of each job demand
  • consider the worker’s physical restrictions

What we offer

To achieve its potential, Work Capacity Assessment involving functional job and task analysis must be focused on data collection with an understanding of and commitment to, ergonomic principles, risk management, the biopsychosocial model and a focus of disability prevention [see key concepts below]. We offer a unique, industry leading and evidence-based assessment and reporting system that guarantees this focus and achieves the required outcome. Our service is delivered by appropriately trained and qualified professionals, experienced in ergonomics and task analysis [refer to bio of leading resource]. The accurate and relevant job and task information contained within the Job and Task Analysis helps to embed health and safety management into all operational aspects of an organisation, including injury management.


Our Work Capacity Assessment involves the following components:

  1. Functional job and task analysis
  2. Interpretation of data
  3. Proposed modifications to the job and tasks
  4. Determination of ability to perform specific jobs and tasks

Functional job and task analysis is key to success in all injury prevention [risk management] and injury management [occupational rehabilitation] processes. It provides objective information, which can be used by either an employer, or medical / allied health professional, to understand the physical and other requirements of the role. When founded on accurate functional data, job and task analysis assists individuals and employers to identify potential health and safety problems and to develop, implement and manage programs that maintain the work ability and health of workers.  Our Work Capacity Assessment is performed in order to isolate specific difficulties with job performance, to recommend possible solutions, and to determine the most effective way of performing specified duties.

The complex nature of work, the demands of work and MSD aetiology require that ergonomic functional job and task analysis includes consideration of the following range of factors:

  • Physical factors including postures, forces, repetitive movements, vibration, materials handling, workplace layout, work environment, and individual factors (anatomical, anthropometric, physiological, biomechanical).
  • Cognitive factors including mental workload, decision making, perception, memory, reasoning, motor response, skilled performance, human-computer interaction, human reliability, work stress and training.
  • Organisational factors including communication, crew resource management (including training), design of working times, job analysis, job design, teamwork, participatory design, community ergonomics, cooperative work, new work paradigms, organisational culture, quality management, consultative arrangements, organisational structures, policies and processes.

Work Capacity Assessment based on a biopsychosocial model that considers physical, physiological, psychosocial and environmental factors, including workplace organisation, facilitates early accurate diagnosis and identification of the needs of the worker and the employer.  It includes consideration and assessment of the physical, cognitive, sensory, perceptual demands of the tasks and the physical and psychosocial working environment. Work-related MSD risk is highest when both physical and psychosocial hazard levels are high. Some physical and psychosocial hazards can act synergistically in increasing MSD risk. Long working hours increase exposure to hazards of all types. Each of these issues is taken into account when we determine a management strategy and return to work [RTW] or remain at work [RAW] plan for an injured worker.

In accordance with the service standards, our experienced Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists will complete and submit a report detailing their findings and recommendations within eight (8) working days of the referral and will include feedback from the worker, their manager, and the Agency’s health consultant.

Why choose us for your next Work Capacity Assessment

  • Our unique, industry-leading analysis of job and task demands allows identification of hazards and related risk exposures encompassing all relevant physical and psychosocial factors. Only with such an approach can effective risk management become a realistic and ongoing prospect for organisations, in both primary prevention activities and occupational rehabilitation processes.
  • It is hard to focus on improving safety with work performance if you don’t actually know what demands are involved with the work performed and what risks are associated with these demands.

Uses and Benefits of Work Capacity Assessment:

Work Capacity Assessment involving functional job and task analysis is helpful to identify suitable duties for injured workers returning to work with medical restrictions and to manage the risks associated with the occupational rehabilitation process.   It will facilitate an effective return to work (RTW) outcome, especially in difficult and complex cases such as when:

  • Recovery is slow or difficult,
  • Physical restrictions are significant,
  • Pain is a predominant factor,
  • Worker’s capacity is not stable,
  • Worker has more than 1 injury or has marginal body mechanics

A focus of work safety and injury/disability prevention is maintained at all times and we acknowledge that a reduction in work risks/hazards, injury rate and injury severity has benefit for all stakeholders.

Work Capacity Assessment based on functional job and task analysis promotes timely implementation of appropriate treatment modalities and rehabilitation interventions for injured or ill workers, which may include referral to other service providers.  Early intervention for injured or ill workers improves health, social, financial, interpersonal and intrapersonal outcomes by promoting recovery and preventing long term disability and work loss. It facilitates a planned, integrated and collaborative multidisciplinary approach to occupational rehabilitation that maximises RTW outcomes and minimised risks and costs for all stakeholders.

The Work Capacity Assessment results should assist in determining the following:

  • Rehabilitation goals;
  • The worker’s capabilities;
  • Past, current and required [recommended] treatment;
  • The worker’s pain attitudes, beliefs, recovery expectations and involvement with worker’s compensation;
  • The role requirements, with consideration of pre-injury duties and hours and the worker’s capacity to meet these, including physical and mental job demands, ergonomic factors, risk and appropriate accommodations and modifications;
  • Workplace environmental factors relevant to work health, safety and rehabilitation, including work relationships and employment arrangements;
  • Suitable work duties and hours that facilitate recovery and a safe and durable RTW, while considering and balancing the needs of a range of stakeholders;
  • Appropriate steps for a tailored RTW plan and rehabilitation progress;
  • Barriers to RTW, including risk factors; and
  • Support, equipment, activities or modifications to help sustain and progress work and productivity.
  • The needs of the worker and the employer
  • Establishment of the expectation of remaining at work and/or returning to work.
  • Clear and consistent communication and active involvement of all stakeholders in decision-making and planning assists the RTW process
  • Targeted education and self-management focussed on active rehabilitation
  • Respectful, open and effective working relationships established and maintained with and between workers and employers and other the relevant parties
  • Development of a supportive workplace culture

Expected Outcome

Implementing best-practice and evidence-based rehabilitation processes, incorporating ergonomic principles, helps to prevent workplace injury, re-occurrence of injury and achieve productivity increases.

Key Concepts in
Work Capacity Assessment:

  1. Ergonomics is a whole of system approach, focusing on “interactions among humans & other elements of a system and design, to optimise human well-being and system performance.” (International Ergonomics Association Council, 2000). This approach includes the understanding, relevance and application of anthropometric data and ergonomic guides [eg. Safe weights, forces and reach distances]. It includes the people, tasks, equipment, environment, work organisational and company culture (Grey, S., Norris, B., & Wilson, J.. 1987).


  1. A risk management approach is relevant to both injury prevention and injury management. It is hard to focus on improving safety with work performance if you don’t actually know what demands are involved with the work performed and what risks are associated with these demands. A detailed analysis of task demands allows adequate identification of risk exposures encompassing all relevant physical and psychosocial factors. Only then can effective risk management become a realistic and ongoing prospect for organisations.


  1. The biopsychosocial model recognizes multiple factors influence health, safety, injury, disability, pain, function and return to work and dictates that Job and Task Analysis must consider physical and psychosocial demands and hazards.


  1. Safety culture: Accurate functional job and task analysis is the foundation for the development of a positive organizational and safety culture. Safety culture results from a combination of organisational “cultures” which includes: (1) An informed culture; (2) a reporting culture (3) a just culture; (4) a learning culture. These aspects of safety culture require an understanding and application of job and task information. A key element of safety culture is the manner in which an organisation disseminates the correct information about risks and hazards.


  1. Ageing workforce: Functional job and task analysis is recognised as an important part of addressing issues relating to an ageing workforce. Strategies to minimise age-related problems and help older workers maintain their health and productivity, begin with young workers and continue throughout their working lives.


  1. Actions, movements and postures
    When looking at task-specific actions and movements we take into consideration movements such as:
  • Bending and twisting of the back
  • Pushing and pulling tasks
  • Over-reaching and working above shoulder height
  • Working at low levels
  • Repetitive tasks
  • Prolonged postures


  1. Workstation and Workplace Layout
    When looking at Ergonomic Task Analysis focussed on the Workstation and Workplace Layout we assess factors such as sitting postures, monitor position, office chair setup, workplace organisation, alternating tasks, and factoring in micro-breaks.


  1. Load and Force in the Workplace
    As part of analysing and documenting load force, Our assessment takes into account the load location and the distances the load is being moved, if the object is being carried, pushed or pulled over a long distance, if objects are difficult to move, lifted manually or if they’re unusual sizes or hard to grip i.e. wet, slippery, greasy.


  1. Management of the Work Environment
    Managing the work environment is a very effective way of ensuring staff safety and promoting safe work conditions. When looking at work environments, our assessment takes into account busy periods when staff may have difficulty keeping up with the demands of jobs with little or no recovery periods. We also assess the availability of additional help if team lifting is required, if floor surfaces are slippery or uneven, if there are different levels in the work area, if there is inadequate lighting and if appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) is available.


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