Disability management is paying off

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 02 May 2017

Getting mobile: Ainul (second from left) and union head Hanafiah Ramli (in blue, right) during a visit to the company‘s physiotherapy centre where an employee is undergoing treatment.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has spearheaded the handling of disability management for disabled workers in the Asean region by having a more inclusive and integrative approach.

Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, who is the International Social Security Association secretary-general, said traditionally, work injury insurances focused on providing injured workers with medical treatment and financial compensation in cases of invalidity.

“It has become evident that disability management not only is a moral imperative but also pays off for all parties involved,” he said when contacted.

Employers, he said, played a key role in efforts aimed at maximising job retention but the efforts must be supported by a social security system.

Konkolewsky said Social Security Organisation Malaysia’s (Socso) Return-to-Work programme (RTW) has shown that employers were willing to take up the role if proper motivation and support, especially in the early stages, were provided.

With this, he said there has been an increased interest in disability management from Malaysian employers.

Within the Asian region, Konkolewsky noted that Samsung Electronics has signed an agreement with the Korea Employment Agency for the Disabled to recruit disabled people in a more proactive manner.

In Malaysia, Socso’s RTW, which started in 2005, has developed its resources and infrastructure with the opening of the region’s first rehabilitation centre in Malacca in 2014.

Since then, it has shared its experiences and contributed to the development of RTW methods and programmes through workshops and international forums.

Locally, Brahim’s SATS Food Services Sdn Bhd has participated in the RTW programme since 2010 and even won gold at the Disability Management Excellence Awards last year organised by Socso.

Brahim’s chief executive officer Ainul Hasnizam Abu Hassan said it has set up a RTW committee, comprising personnel from human resources, operational department, safety, in-house doctor and union president, to implement the programme.

Among the measures taken inclu­ded opening a gymnasium, and having in-house physiotherapy to provide rehabilitation programmes for its staff and participants.

“We have appointed a third-party service provider to offer treatment from Mondays to Saturdays. This centre has equipment and machines for ultrasound therapy, decompression of sophisticated spinal lumbar and cervical conditions and interferential therapy, among others,” said Ainul.

The company also has an ergonomic programme, which provides a full screening of employees’ Joint Functional Test, staff profiling and job assessment, besides reporting on risks and recommendations depending on the severity of the case.

Ainul said the RTW programme has helped the company identify staff who suffered from injuries that required monitoring.

“These programmes are also effective in reducing the level of medical leave as well as medical cost.

“With the implementation of the RTW programme and some incentives introduced by the company, the number of medical certificates (MCs) has reduced by 2% to 3%.

“We have also managed to reduce long hospital leave due to injury,” he added.

While there are impressive results achieved under RTW programmes in Malaysia, Konkolewsky felt that this was “far from accomplished”.

“More needs to be done in order to ensure that everyone with disabilities in Malaysia has access to the programme and a successful RTW rate of 100% is reached,” said Konkolewsky.

To achieve these objectives, he said Socso should further extend its capacities and outreach, in particular the number of disability managers and rehabilitation facilities.

“Solutions need to be found at enterprise level, especially for smaller companies, to run a successful disability management,” he said, adding that this could be done through campaigns and incentive programmes.

“Links with the medical profession, education and training also need to be strengthened so that work-related injuries and diseases can be diagnosed as early as possible and that the most suitable medical and vocational measures and care can be provided to the patient.

“Finally, prevention efforts have to be enhanced to reduce the number of disability cases due to work-related accidents and occupational diseases,” he added.

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