Injured workers are going to get help to return to work more swiftly under a new programme introduced yesterday.
The "return to work" scheme - for those who suffer permanent injuries - will require public hospitals to appoint staff to coordinate with doctors and employers on the best way to get these workers back on their feet and working again.
Employers can also receive subsidies of up to 90 per cent, capped at $1,000 per worker, for changes they have to make to their premises to accommodate these injured workers.
Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan, in announcing the programme, said: "Many people think injured workers must be off work to recover and that being injured is a barrier to returning to work. That need not be the case.
"Depending on the nature of injury, they do not have to wait for complete recovery before returning to work," he added.
"As long as they are medically stabilised, work can be part of the recovery process as long as work modifications are made to accommodate the injured workers' functional capacity."
Last year, 12,948 workers were injured at work, a slight increase over the 12,285 in 2015. Of these, 4,807 suffered permanent injuries.
Dr Sylvia Teo, a principal occupational safety and heath specialist at the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) who is spearheading the programme, said a person is less likely to return to work as time passes, regardless of the cause.
Many people think injured workers must be off work to recover and that being injured is a barrier to returning to work. That need not be the case.
MINISTER OF STATE FOR MANPOWER SAM TAN
A 2014 MOM study of 407 local workers who were injured found about three in four eventually returned to work.
Seven in 10 of those who returned to work did not see any change to their job scope, and eight in 10 faced difficulties such as tiredness and lack of support.
Tan Tock Seng Hospital was the first public hospital to send trained coordinators to help injured workers in September.
By the end of next year, 40 of such trained coordinators will be deployed to the seven public hospitals.
Employers can also claim up to $7,000 per worker if they need to hire consultants to evaluate the workers' recovery and assess whether their workplaces should be modified.
These grants are on top of the $36,000 in medical expenses companies can claim from insurance for each injured worker under the Work Injury Compensation Act.