LATEST NEWS O H & S
August 8, 2012
Everybody wins with return to work
View from the Board | Don Schouten
Remember when it was a common assumption that workers could only return to the job once they were fully healed from an injury? Now we know that helping injured workers return to work sooner not only benefits their recovery, but can also be good for business.
While return-to-work programs are an important element of any workplace’s health and safety program, it seems to be something the construction industry in particular needs.
Over the last five years, workers in construction consistently have been off work longer following an injury than workers in other industries.
From 2007 to 2011, the average time an injured construction worker was off work increased by 35 per cent.
Compare that to an increase of 21 per cent for all of B.C. for the same time period.
In order to help reduce this growing concern it is very important to have an effective return-to-work program in place as part of your workplace health and safety program.
No one wants to see any worker injured.
However, if this does occur, having an effective program is essential.
Returning an employee to productive work as soon as it’s safe to do so actually enhances the worker’s recovery.
It helps them to recover quicker and more completely.
Returning to work also ensures workers maintain their full income and helps them stay connected with their co-workers and the workplace.
Workers who are injured and off work can often feel isolated.
This can have an impact on their mental well-being, which may affect their physical recovery.
A solid return-to-work program makes good business sense.
It’s good for workplace morale and demonstrates to workers that they are valued, which goes a long way in enhancing positive worker-employer relationships.
It can also save money.
When a worker is injured and off work, all claims costs are attached to the employer’s record and can result in increased premiums.
The success of a return-to-work program depends on actively managing incidents, maintaining open communication between all parties, and providing temporary modified work duties, when necessary, to fit the injured workers capabilities. The injured worker should be an active participant in all steps of the program.
Having an injured worker return to work as soon as possible means fewer interruptions to productivity and workflow. In today’s skill shortage climate, we know how important it is to get workers back on their feet doing meaningful productive work.
There are several resources to help you navigate the return-to-work process.
WorkSafeBC’s Construction Nurse Line at 604-279-8155 or 1-888-633-6233 connects you to registered nurses with experience in construction.
They are experts in occupational injury.
Also check out the Injury Management Road Map for Construction Employers, which you can find on the Rehabilitation and Return to Work page of WorkSafeBC.com.
For help in the development of a company return to work program you can contact the B.C. Construction Safety Alliance (BCCSA). Their website is at www.bccsa.ca.
Don Schouten is the manager of construction with Industry and Labour Services at WorkSafeBC. Don is also a Journal of Commerce Editorial Advisory Board member. Direct all comments or questions to email@example.com.
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