Workers Compensation Board of Prince Edward Island

Work & Recovery

When people feel valued, respected, and satisfied in their jobs and work in safe, healthy environments, they are likely to be more productive and committed to their work. This approach is the foundation for successful work disability prevention when a worker is injured or ill.

Work disability occurs when a worker is unable to remain at work or return to work due to an injury or illness.

Work Disability Prevention

Work Disability Prevention is any workplace activity, organizational program, or policy designed to support injured or ill workers remaining at work. Some people believe that being away from work after an injury or illness can decrease stress and promote healing, however, evidence supports that recovering at work is better for most workers.

The Case for Work Disability Prevention

Workplace injuries hurt both workers and employers. Evidence shows that the most effective way to reduce the impact of work-related injuries is to develop a practical and comprehensive Work Disability Prevention Program (WDPP). This program can provide your workers with the support they need for a healthy recovery and return to work.

Work is good for physical and mental health, and maintaining the connection to work following a work-related injury can help the healing process. The longer an injured worker is out of the workplace, the more complex recovery can become.

Of course, some people do need time away from work as part of their recovery. They may have serious injuries requiring hospitalization, psychological injury as a result of exposure to trauma, or a need for frequent and complex medical treatments. Even in these cases, returning to work in some capacity as soon as possible helps with recovery and overall health and wellness.

Providing safe and suitable work arrangements for recovering workers takes teamwork. Workers, employers, and health care providers all have important roles to play in this process.

Work Disability Prevention Programs (WDDP)

A Work Disability Prevention Program (WDPP) is a strategic and proactive approach to helping injured workers stay at work or return to safe and productive work as soon as possible. A WDPP enables employers to be prepared, and it ensures that modified or transitional duties or graduated work schedules are available to help injured workers continue to be at work while they are recovering from injury.

The goals of a WDPP are to enable safe and timely return to work, prevent or reduce the physical and psychological impact of workplace injuries, and to optimize worker recovery. The best approach is having a WDPP in place before a work-related injury occurs – but it’s never too late to start.

A WDPP also benefits you as an employer by:

  • Reducing the costs of recruiting and training replacement staff.
  • Maintaining productivity and team dynamics.
  • Improving workplace morale.
  • Reducing productivity losses and workflow interruptions.
  • Meeting the legal requirements related to human rights and workers compensation legislation.
  • Reducing your WCB premiums.

Return to Work Plans

Return to Work Plans (RTWP) are an important part of a WDPP. Within a WDPP, generic plans are developed based on the key job functions for each job or group of jobs. This is a solid starting point that can be individualized to meet the needs of a recovering worker, based on limitations and restrictions. Having these generic plans in place also helps you meet the return to work requirements in the Workers Compensation Act.

Some options for RTWP’s include a gradual increase in hours over a period of time, transitional or modified duties, identification of other suitable work, work conditioning or a multi-disciplinary program to build strength and stamina in conjunction with a transitional return to work plan. The plan is individualized to each worker. Using a team approach, RTWP’s are designed specifically around the workers abilities and the kind of work that is available. This process can be enhanced by an employer having an existing WDDP, and can make return to work safer and more timely. The most successful RTWP’s involve the worker losing as little time away from work as possible.

Employers, workers, and health care providers have a responsibility to facilitate safe and timely return to suitable and available work. Return to work planning is a team effort.

Focus on Abilities

Focusing on what a worker can do rather that what they can’t do makes it easier to determine appropriate modified and transitional duties. Health care providers will provide information about a worker’s abilities in an effort to determine what a worker can do at work throughout their recovery.

The WCB can help you develop a WDPP. Click here for more information for employers on developing a Work Disability Prevention Program or contact us at 902-368-5680.