Developing a Work Disability Prevention Program

Work Disability Prevention

There is a strong connection between the health and well-being of people and their work environments. 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. Injuries and illnesses can be physical or psychological or both and every injury or illness is different.

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

Effective management of work disability is becoming an increasingly important strategy in today’s workplaces. In 2020 the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) released a comprehensive standard titled “Work Disability Management System .” This document outlines, in detail, the steps required for employers to develop a best practice Work Disability Prevention Program (WDPP) and is the most current and evidence-based approach to work disability prevention for employers.

The Case for Work Disability Prevention

The costs of work disability are real and well documented. The Conference Board of Canada report “Missing in Action: Absenteeism Trends in Canadian Organizations – 2013”, estimates the direct and indirect cost of absenteeism to the Canadian economy is $30 billion per year. The costs are not just monetary; there is also a human cost to work disability. For the worker, this could include: a change in quality of life for them and those in their circle, a negative impact on their psychological well-being, and loss of identity.

A Work Disability Prevention Program can also:

Research strongly supports that the longer an injured worker is away from the workplace, the more complex their recovery can become. Workers who stay at work doing modified or transitional, or accommodated work, following a workplace injury, recover more quickly. They also avoid the unnecessary consequences that can develop when away from employment for prolonged periods. Studies show that the longer workers are off work, the less likely they are to return to work in any capacity.

Of course, some workers may need a period of time away from work as part of their recovery. They may have serious injuries requiring hospitalization or surgery, 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.

By helping workers stay at work as they recover, your business can realize many benefits. These may include:

Developing a Work Disability Prevention Program

A 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 following a workplace injury. A WDPP enables employers to be prepared and ensures that modified or transitional duties and/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 to have a WDPP in place before a workplace injury occurs.

Having a Work Disability Prevention Program means that you can strategically support workers in their recovery at work. It’s good for the worker and it’s good for your business. Having workers perform some duties while they recover keeps them connected to the workplace and can prevent unnecessary work disability.

For resources visit: Work Disability Prevention Program 

Retrieved from: Workers Compensation Board of PEI

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