Credit points


Campus offering

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OTHY210 Physical Rehabilitation 1 data-versionlabel=1 OR OTHY202 - Ergonomics and Occupational Health and Safety

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Occupational therapists play a key role in facilitating occupational participation of individuals in their work, home and community environments informed by the principles of ergonomic design and vocational rehabilitation. Occupational therapists require the knowledge and skills related to ergonomics, vocational rehabilitation, work related injury management and employment support for people with an activity or participation restriction.

In this unit work related determinants of health are introduced to allow students to understand how work can impact health and wellbeing. Students are introduced to concepts including ergonomics, vocational rehabilitation, case management and workers' compensation.

Students will apply principles of ergonomic design within occupational therapy settings in the workplace, community and home.

Students will acquire specific knowledge and skills in assessment and return to work planning and integrate skills of observation and report writing. Students will participate in group-based discussions, practical and fieldwork tasks where they will clarify and extend their understanding of the key concepts. One week of simulated professional practice experience provides the opportunity for students to apply their skills and knowledge. 

The overall aim of the unit is to prepare students for practice in ergonomics, workplaces and vocational rehabilitation settings. 

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe and contextualise the principles used to modify the work environment to optimise occupational performance; (GA5)

LO2 - Identify and evaluate the impact of occupational therapy applied ergonomic interventions on participation in a range of environments; (GA4, GA8)

LO3 - Apply principles of case management within relevant legislative frameworks to facilitate return to work of an injured worker (GA8)

LO4 - Develop appropriate return to work plans in order to respond to changes in human systems and work environments resulting from workplace injury using vocational rehabilitation theories and processes (GA1, GA4, GA8)

LO5 - Provide clear, accurate and comprehensive documentation as required for the relevant regulatory organisation/s for vocational rehabilitation programs (GA5, GA9, GA10)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - Demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.

Australian Occupational Therapy Competency Standards (AOTCS) 2018

Australian occupational therapy competency standards (AOTCS) 2018, developed in this unit are:

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

1. Professionalism

1.1: Complies with the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia's standards, guidelines and Code of conduct

1.2: Adheres to legislation relevant to practice

1.5: Practises in a culturally responsive and culturally safe manner, with particular respect to culturally diverse client groups

1.7: Collaborates and consults ethically and responsibly for effective client-centred and interprofessional practice

1.8: Adheres to all work health and safety, and quality requirements for practice

1.9: Identifies and manages the influence of her/his values and culture on practice

1.10: Practises within limits of her/his own level of competence and expertise

1, 2, 3, 4, 5

2. Knowledge and Learning

2.1: Applies current and evidence-informed knowledge of occupational therapy and other appropriate and relevant theory in practice

2.2: Applied theory and frameworks of occupation to professional practice and decision making

2.3: Identifies and applies best available evidence in professional practice and decision making

2.8: reflects on practice to inform current and future reasoning and decision- making and the integration of theory and evidence into practice.

1, 2, 3, 4

3. Occupational Therapy process and practice

3.2 Performs appropriate information gathering and assessment when identifying a client’s status and functioning, strengths, occupational performance and goals 

3.3: Collaborates with the client and relevant others to determine the priorities and occupational therapy goals 

3.4: Develops a plan with the client and relevant others to meet identified occupational therapy goals 

3.5. Selects and implements culturally responsive and safe practice strategies to suit the occupational therapy goals and environment of the client 

3.7: Reflects on practice to inform and communicate professional reasoning and decisionmaking

3.8 Identifies and uses practice guidelines and protocols suitable to the practice setting or work environment

3.11 evaluates client and service outcomes to inform future practice 

3.12 Uses effective collaborative, multidisciplinary and interprofessional approaches for decision-making and planning 

1, 2, 3, 4, 5

4. Communication

4.1. Communicates openly, respectfully and effectively 

4.2: Adapts written, verbal and non-verbal communication appropriate to the client and practice context 

4.4: Uses culturally responsive, safe and relevant communication tools and strategies 

4.5: Complies with legal and procedural requirements for the responsible and accurate documentation, sharing and storage of professional information and records of practice 

4.6: Maintains contemporaneous, accurate and complete records of practice 

4.7: Obtains informed consent for practice and information-sharing from the client or legal guardian 

4.8: Maintains collaborative professional relationships with clients, health professionals and relevant others 

4.9: Uses effective communication skills to initiate and end relationships with clients and relevant others 

4.10: Seeks and responds to feedback, modifying communication and/or practice accordingly, and 

411: Identifies and articulates the rationale for practice to clients and relevant others.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5


An introduction to Ergonomics

• Systems approach to ergonomics

• Applied anthropometry 

• Assessment of job demands, functional capacity, occupational performance and the environment

• Ergonomics at work, in the home and community

• Application of ergonomic theory, data, principles and methods to optimise system and occupational performance

Occupational therapy theories and vocational rehabilitation 

·    Application of the Model of Human Occupation (MOHO) to workplace occupational participation

·    Impact of injury or illness on occupational/vocational participation

·    Approaches, theories and models of vocational rehabilitation 

Occupational and vocational rehabilitation and return to work for individuals with:

·    Psychological injuries

·    Physical injuries

·    Disabilities of an acute or chronic nature

Preparation for, and engagement in, Professional Practice placement and simulated learning experiences 

Injury management and case management processes under relevant occupational legislation 

·    Work assessment

·    Job analysis

·    Functional capacity evaluation

·    Workers' Compensation, and OHS Legislation and other relevant legislation

Develop and write a vocational rehabilitation intervention plan:

·    Graduated return to work plan

·    Identifying and overcoming barriers to workplace participation

Program evaluation, monitoring and supporting progress 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Learning and Teaching strategies for this unit include lectures, practical sessions, case studies and self-directed learning. This unit includes 5 hours of fieldwork experience and 40 hours of simulated placement. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively within group activities, demonstrating respect for the individual as an independent learner. 

The learning and teaching strategies in this unit are linked to achieving the described learning outcomes. These learning experiences will provide students with the opportunity to develop assessment and communication skills in addition to clinical and reflective thinking in ergonomics and vocational rehabilitation. Skills from previous units will be used, such as building rapport with a client, communication skills, occupational therapy models of practice and professional reasoning. 

Students will develop foundational knowledge in ergonomics and vocational rehabilitation and have opportunities to practice skills in situation-based learning scenarios in practical sessions. To demonstrate learning and skills, students will participate in ergonomic assessment fieldwork and a one week simulated placement to apply principles of workplace assessment and return to work procedures using case study scenarios in a simulated vocational rehabilitation setting. 

Students' study and assessment schedules have been designed to enable students to learn sequentially and build on their knowledge each week through the sequence of gain, apply and integrate. This will allow students to develop clear knowledge and understanding of the role of an occupational therapist within ergonomics and vocational rehabilitation.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements.   Such procedures may include, but are not limited to:  essays, reports, examinations, student presentations or case studies. The simulated professional practice placement has been developed to meet the recommended guidelines for simulation including authenticity, complexity, immediacy to practice, students assessed and the use of multiple modalities. 

Assessment 1 requires students to demonstrate their ability to assess, document and make recommendations using clinical reasoning and evidence-based approaches.

Assessment 2 requires students to develop knowledge about, and skills in, preparing a return to work plan and report for a case study.

Assessment 3 is a written examination that requires students to apply their learning from across the unit.

Hurdle Tasks are embedded in this unit. In order to pass this unit, students are required to gain a pass rating on the Student Practice Evaluation Form – Revised (2nd Edition) SPEF-R2 and submit a signed timesheet for (1) the simulated placement and (2) the fieldwork component for Assessment 1.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment 1

Computer-based workstation assessment report (Individual report)


LO1, LO2, LO5

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Assessment 2:

Return to work plan report for a given case study


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Assessment 3

This will examine the student's understanding of ergonomics and vocational rehabilitation and its application through case studies  


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8

Hurdle 1

Embedded Fieldwork associated with Assessment 1

Completion of 5 hours fieldwork and submission of a signed timesheet


Ungraded Hurdle

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8

Hurdle 2

Simulated Professional Practice Placement:

  • Gain a satisfactory rating for the Occupational Therapy Student Competencies on the modified SPEF-R2 (Student Practice Evaluation Form – Revised Edition 2 in Domains 1 to 4 by the conclusion of the simulated professional practice placement. 
  • Submission of a signed timesheet for 40 hours of simulated professional practice placement.


Ungraded Hurdle

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Students are afforded one attempt at each hurdle. One further attempt will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances, and with approved special consideration.

Representative texts and references

Archer, R., Borthwick, K., Travers, M., & Ruschena, L. (2020). WHS A management guide (6th ed.). Cengage Learning Australia

Bahn, S. (2014). OHS management: Contemporary issues in Australia (1st ed.). Prahran VIC: Tilde University Press.

Braveman, B. & Page, J. (2012). Promoting Participation & Productivity through Occupational Therapy. Davis Company.

Bridger, R.S. (2009). Introduction to ergonomics (3rd ed.). Taylor & Francis

Jacobs, K. (2008). Ergonomics for therapists (3rd ed.). Mosby Elsevier. (no longer available for purchase, copies in library)

Grandjean, E., & Kroemer, K. H. E.(2014). Fitting the Task To The Human. A Textbook of Occupational Ergonomics (5th ed.). Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

Schultz, I. Z., & Gatchel, R. J. (2016). Handbook of return to work from research to practice (1st ed. 2016.). Springer US : Imprint: Springer.

Taylor, & Kielhofner, G. (2017). Kielhofner’s model of human occupation : theory and application (Taylor, Ed.).

Townsend, Polatajko, H. J., & Polatajko, H. J. (2013). Enabling occupation II : advancing an occupational therapy vision for health, well-being, & justice through occupation (Second edition.). CAOT.

Wilson, J. R., & Sharples, S. (Eds.). (2015). Evaluation of human work. CRC press. 

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