Introduction EU-OSHA initiated the Safer and healthier work at any age project in 2013 to investigate ways of improving health and safety at work considering the challenges of an ageing workforce.
Methods The project considered rehabilitation and return to work with a research review, an analysis report and nine case studies on rehabilitation/RTW programmes.
Results The analyses identified different approaches across the State systems examined, prerequisites for a successful system, and factors for a successful rehabilitation and RTW system. The research review examined prerequisites for a successful rehabilitation and return to work system. In general:
Evidence points to the beneficial effects of work on health and well–being,
Interventions that contain a workplace component appear to be more effective, and
The sooner an intervention takes place, the more effective it is likely to be.
The analysis report identified common elements that contribute to effective return to work and rehabilitation systems at national and workplace levels. These included:
A legal framework that covers all aspects of the process;
Integration of the inclusive RTW system into a comprehensive policy framework;
Good coordination across relevant policy areas;
Successful interventions that are tailored to the worker;
The use of incentive based systems without binding instruments; and
Provision of financial and technical support
Discussion This is the first European overview on this topic. It highlights that governments should move towards a system that encourages an integrated system that focuses on workers’ capabilities rather than their disabilities.
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