Acute knee pain and associated disability affecting mobility and car driving


The company is a European convenience food group focused on the added-value sector of the food industry, and in particular the growing market for convenience and prepared foods both in the UK and Continental Europe. The site is a Food manufacturing site employing around 300 individuals.


A 34 year old manager developed acute knee pain and a degree of disability resulting in difficulty with prolonged mobilization and driving.  The manager held a fairly key position in a supporting role.

Company policy

The referral criteria of individuals to the occupational health function is as follows:

  • Sickness absence or 8 or more calendar days
  • Absence review as per trigger points for short term and long term sickness absence as per policy
  • On the day of an industrial injury, or as soon as possible
  • On the first day of absence if it is possibly work related
  • Should managers have concern regarding an employee’s fitness to work.


The case was referred to the company’s Occupational Health Department (OHD) as his line manager had concerns regarding his fitness to work. The employee had already consulted his GP and was on a 3-6 month waiting list for an MRI scan. A meeting took place between the employee, his manager and OHD to discuss rehabilitation issues. The main priority was to return the individual to the highest possible level of activity as soon as possible.

The company funded an MRI scan with approval from his GP, following which a knee operation undertaken. The employee was absent from work for 2 weeks, however continued to work from home with use of a laptop and telephone.  

Return to work

The employee returned to work and attended physiotherapy. Within 6 week his physiotherapy was completed, he was discharged from his consultant’s care and able to carry out his full role without pain or restriction of movement. 

Rehabilitation team

OHD, consultant orthopaedic surgeon, GP, department manager, physiotherapy and the employee concerned.

Continued progress

The employee is back at work, having resumed his role and full duties. He again leads a normal life without any restrictions.

Benefits to the business

  • Employee returned to work having been absent from site for only 2 weeks, during which time he worked from home
  • Employee returned to full duties with health restored in less time than the original scan was planned for, thereby reducing any further pain or disability
  • Disruption to the department he managed was minimized
  • Reduction of total disability cost to the organization through reduced long term sickness
  • Benefit of funding treatment enabled employee to return to work, performing to normal capacity earlier than expected.

This was made possible due to effective teamwork. This gentleman was managed effectively and returned to his full time role by intervention that resulted in fast tracked treatment and recovery.

Benefits to the individual

  • Restored the individual to the highest possible level of activity as soon as possible.
  • Food and Drink Manufacturing Forum
  • Federation of Bakers (FoB)
  • Craft Bakers Association
  • British Meat Processors Association (BMPA)
  • Dairy UK
  • Chilled Foods Association (CFA)
  • British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF)
  • Food Standards Agency
  • IOSH Food and Drink Group
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    Updated 2023-06-15