Measuring return to work outcomes

Safe Work Australia is proud to announce the beta release of our new data website,

The new website delivers national work health and safety and workers’ compensation data in an intuitive, user-friendly way.

Please visit the website and fill out the short online questionnaire. Feedback can also be emailed to

Return to work means helping sick or injured workers get back to work in a safe and timely way.

National return to work survey

Australia’s only return to work national survey is for people who get workers’ compensation for a work‑related illness or injury.

The survey asks workers about their return to work experiences including:

  • general health and wellbeing
  • employer and supervisor attitudes and support
  • co-worker attitudes
  • health and rehabilitation providers
  • the workers’ compensation system.

It shows what workplaces think about:

  • workers’ compensation
  • the role of supervisors’, co-workers and support services during return to work.

We use this data to report national progress on return to work rates and worker recovery.

Read the most recent survey results:

Returning to work during COVID-19

This snapshot is based on findings from the 2021 National Return to Work Survey and explores what it was like for workers returning to work after an injury or illness during the pandemic.

It provides insights into the return to work process and factors influencing return to work outcomes for workers.

Read the Returning to work during COVID-19 snapshot.

National Data Set for Compensation-based Statistics

The National Data Set for Compensation-based Statistics (NDS) is Australia’s primary source of information on:

  • work-related injuries and illnesses
  • workers’ compensation.

Each year, the Commonwealth, states and territories provide data on workers’ compensation.

We use NDS data to report annual national statistics on workers’ compensation experiences and outcomes.

For return to work, we use the NDS to measure progress on:

  • the rate of accepted claims
  • time lost from work
  • time taken to resolve workers’ compensation claims

Measurement framework

The Measurement Framework was developed in collaboration with the Insurance, Work and Health Group at the School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine at Monash University. 

The model is derived from a range of accepted scientific models in injury epidemiology and occupational health. It includes information on both return to work outcomes and the factors that influence whether those outcomes are achieved.

The National Data Set for Compensation-based Statistics (NDS) and other sources will help us measure the National Return to Work Strategy 2020–2030 outcomes.

Read how we review and report national return to work performance in:

National research on return to work

We support research to:

  • fill gaps in national evidence on workers’ compensation and return to work
  • inform nationally consistent return to work policy and practice.

For example, we support research looking at causes of psychological injuries at work, and how to prevent and reduce these, which is a current gap. We do this through:

As the nature of work changes, research helps us understand how to improve national policies and programs.

We may require new measures to support timely and safe return to work because of:

  • workforce ageing
  • advances in technology
  • the rise of casual, short-term and flexible work
  • more sitting at work.

Request data

If you would to request data, visit our Request data page.