Return to Work

Workplace Injuries put more than 9,000 Nova Scotians off the job every year.

A Return-to-Work program can reduce the human impact of injury in your workplace; save you time and it can save you money.  When you, your management team, injured employees, the WCB, union and health care providers all work together, an effective Return-to-Work program will:

  • Reduce or eliminate a wage loss for employees.
  • Ensure communication between you and your employee, maintaining the connection to the  workplace.
  • Minimize lost productivity.
  • Eliminate or reduce the costs of retraining new employees.
  • In many cases, reduce the risk of re-injury.
  • Maintain morale.
  • Help reduce your WCB premiums.

The Return-to-Work program allows your employee to continue working, keeping valuable skill sets and knowledge at work for you. Strain and Sprains account for 60% of all time-loss injuries in Nova Scotia. When an injury occurs, the goal for both the employer and the employee is to help get things back to the way they were before the injury.

This is where defining transitional duties comes in. Transitional duties must be meaningful, productive and within the injured employee’s skills and abilities. When an employee returns to transitional duties, work together to progressively increase duties as their function improves. General questions of wages and salary around transitional duties should also be addressed and documented when planning your Return-to-Work program – not decided on a case-by-case basis. Although, it is important to be flexible and have the ability to tailor decisions as appropriate.

Transitional duties should be as closely related to the original job as possible given the employee’s restrictions. The transitional assignment should be short-term. A date to return to regular duties should be clearly determined at the outset based on when the employee is physically able to return to the original pre-injury job. Effective and Efficient assessment of injuries and assignment of transitional duties will minimize work time lost. Transitional Duties: Any temporary change to the employee’s job tasks that align with the employee’s functional abilities – what the employee can do.

Example of Transitional Duties:
John Doe works in a warehouse and strains his back. Depending on various factors, there are numerous options for transitional duties. Pre-injury job with modifications of some duties:

  • Ex: John returns to his same job, but now moves boxes with a cart, instead of by hand. Pre-injury job with elimination of some duties.
  • Ex: John returns to his job, but no longer moves heavier boxes. Some pre-injury duties with some new duties.
  • Ex: In addition to moving lighter boxes, John helps with inventory and tracking shipments.

New duties:

  • Ex:  Unfortunately, John is temporarily unable to return to his pre-existing job. He now helps with accounting and costing in the office until he can return to the warehouse.

How We Can Help You

The cornerstone to preventing injuries is successfully managing injuries once they happen, improving occupational performance, and promoting a healthy lifestyle through education. The Physioclinic Onsite Education Series is designed to assist employers who are concerned with their employee’s healthy and welfare as well as the high cost associated with an unhealthy work place.

At The Physioclinic, we have a team of health care professionals from a variety of health care disciplines. We can custom make any lecture that you would require to assist with making your workplace a much more productive and safer place to work. Our Series topics include:

Back Injury Prevention – Injuries to the back represent the number one injured body part in occupational injuries. At the Nova Scotia WCB, it represents almost one third of all injuries reported each year. Eight out of ten people in North America experience back pain at some time in their life costing over 30 billion dollars annually.
Topics Include:

  • Scope of back injury problems
  • Common causes of back problems
  • Back anatomy and physiology
  • Back injury prevention strategies
  • Lifting biomechanics and healthy work postures
  • Correct sleeping postures
  • The effects of aging and degeneration on back health
  • Assessing and treating the back
  • What to do when a back injury occurs
  • Demonstrations and back specific exercise
  • Healthy attitudes and educating the worker to recognize their obligation and self-responsibility to perform work tasks properly

Lifting and healthy work postures at work and at home – Unsafe body mechanics is the cause of many musculoskeletal injuries. This lecture will focus on controlling the effects mechanical forces on the human body and reducing the stress on various body parts by developing a safer and more efficient scheme of motion to perform a task. It includes static and dynamic positioning of the body and postural control.
Topics include:

  • Scope of work posture problem
  • Basic anatomy and physiology
  • Identification of risk factors
  • Improving body mechanics
  • Manual material handling

Office Ergonomics – There has been a significant increase in office related injuries in the last number of years. Injuries to the hands, wrists, forearms, and reports of neck and shoulder pain are significantly increasing.  This lecture will focus on how to set up your office workstation in order to work comfortably, with a high degree of productivity, and prevent injuries.
Topics Include:

  • Setting up your work station
  • Posture
  • Improving your key board techniques
  • Computer related injuries and how to fix them
  • Stretching and exercise breaks
  • Buying a work station
  • Working on lap tops

Ergonomics, work, and health – The structure of our work force is changing.  Our aging work force and changes in technology are a few of the trends that will affect occupational injures and disability. This lecture concentrates on the role of ergonomics in the prevention of work related musculoskeletal disorders.
Topics include:

  • The physiology of work
  • Common work related musculoskeletal disorders
  • Posture
  • Work Design
  • Seating Working with computers
  • Lifting and material handling
  • Ergonomics and economics

Exercise and a healthy lifestyle – It is becoming more and more apparent that an employee’s overall health can have a significant effect on their health related expenditures and productivity.  Recent studies have shown that the benefits of exercise influence a wide variety of disease and conditions affecting both mental and physical health. Regular exercise can help prevent and treat coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, hypertension and depression. Corporations within Canada have found that he risk of injury decrease by 75% when warm-up/stretching exercise is conducted before any physical work or sedentary work. Additional benefits to exercise, when implementing a program in the workplace, include increased self-esteem, reduced health care costs, reduced absenteeism (by 4.8 days), reduced compensation costs and less employee turnover. This lecture will focus on exercise and physical fitness, diet and nutrition, weight management, stress management.

Nutrition Lecture – According to the latest Nova Scotia health survey 70% of Nova Scotians have one or more of the major risk factors for heart disease, 44% of Nova Scotians are not within their healthy weight range. Good nutrition is essential to address these issues and promote a positive lifestyle, good health, and overall sense of well being.
Topics Include:

  • A healthy body weight and weight control
  • Healthy blood cholesterol levels
  • Overall healthy eating
  • High fiber low fat
  • Label reading to choose healthy foods

Disability management for the Employer – Research has shown that 8% of all payroll goes to pay for the direct and indirect cost of work place disability. Proactive employers, who focus on onsite disability management, are more likely to have a safe and timely return to work.
Topics Include:

  • Corporate culture expectations
  • Employer case management principles
  • Responsibility, accountability, and authority
  • Internal and external communications
  • Return to work coordination
  • Transitional work options
  • Work site accommodations
  • Working with Nova Scotia’s Employer’s to manage work site disability and to control WCB premiums

Your bottom line is about decreasing costs and increasing productivity. At The Physioclinic our bottom line is about preventing, managing and rehabilitating worksite illness and injury.  When these two philosophies merge, the result is an occupational health partnership that prevents work site injuries, facilitate early return to work and results in lower WCB claim costs and higher levels of employee productivity. Worksite Disability can be an enormous financial burden to any company and must be controlled and managed like any aspect of a business; not to mention the enormous personal and social consequences that disability has for your employees and society as a whole. Your WCB assessment rate is based mainly on your company’s individual record (ex: The number of workplace injuries and the duration of those claims). In Nova Scotia 60%, of workplace injuries are sprains and strains. The best course of action is timely active and functional rehabilitation.

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