Injury management

3 ways a PFCE evaluation can help you

Give your employees the tools to be physically and mentally safe at work

On average, 1 in 5 Australians aged 16-85, will experience a mental illness each year (source: Black Dog Institute).

Mental wellbeing plays a central role in employee performance and safety at work.

Psychological functional capacity evaluation (PFCE) enables employers to support an individual who has a psychological injury to return to work and improve conditions which enhance psychological safety.

What is a psychological injury?

According to Safework Australia, ‘Psychological injury or mental injury includes a range of cognitive, emotional and behavioural symptoms that interfere with a worker’s life and can significantly affect how they feel, think, behave and interact with others’.

These injuries can be caused by a single event or develop over time.

They most commonly manifest as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder and can impact on an individual’s cognitive functioning, social engagement, and work performance.

A work-related psychological injury can arise from (but not limited to):

  • A single event such as an armed robbery or assault
  • Bullying or harassment at work
  • Excessive workloads
  • Prolonged exposure to stressors such as having to deal with difficult customers/stakeholders on a regular basis
  • Poor human resource management practices

A secondary psychological injury is an injury that is caused because of a primary injury.

For example, after sustaining a physical injury a person may develop secondary issues such as depression, anxiety, changes in mood and poor sleep.

Three ways a PFCE can help you support employees who have experienced psychological injury are:

1. Employee retention

Employee retention is one of the factors which enhance business continuity.

Instigating a PFCE for your employee is one of the steps employers can take to support their employee to return to work.

The main elements a PFCE include examining a person’s:

  • Cognitive functioning
  • Personality factors
  • Level of aptitude, or competency relating to their role
  • Mental health

The employee’s psychological function after injury, risks and medical information are also included in the evaluation.

The outcome of this evaluation provides clear advice on what reasonable practical adjustments can be made in the workplace to support a successful and sustainable return to work.

2. Support recovery from psychological injury

After a person has been medically assessed to have a psychological injury, a PFCE is used to establish an individual’s work capacity.

It ensures that an employees’ vocational goals align with their psychological capacity, regardless of whether they are returning to their existing role or changing career.

A PFCE assists in determining:

  • Ability to perform pre-injury duties
  • Suitability for alternative duties
  • Appropriateness of new vocational options

While a PFCE assesses mental health, it differs to a mental health fitness for work assessment (MHFFW).

A MHFFW assessment reviews what issues are impacting an employee’s mental health (at home or at work) and recommends how managers can support them and avoid injury and illness.

3. Prevent further injury

Research has shown that poor psychological safety costs Australian businesses up to $6 billion dollars each year.

A PFCE can give employers practical recommendations to improve the psychological safety of their workplace at an individual and organisational level.

Previous learnings from psychological injuries are often transferable to improve the overall psychological health of the organisation.

In this way, the PFCE can also aide in determining the psychological suitability of future role options that an employee may be considering, lowering the likelihood of further injury.

Contact Konekt

For more information, contact Konekt at or call our National Service Centre on 1300 723 375.

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