With an aging work force and rising cost pressures for employers, workplace health has become a top issue for Canadian industry. The Conference Board of Canada estimates the cost of absenteeism at over $16 billion annually. Occupational therapy (OT) services are ideally suited to address this issue and provide a range of options to facilitate return to work following injury, illness or disease. Our OTs draw upon a knowledge base that includes medical impairment, job analysis, ergonomics, disability evaluation, human rights legislation and insurance regulations to provide a comprehensive approach to disability management in the workplace. They are skilled in assisting employees with physical, cognitive, and mental health limitations arising from a variety of medical conditions.
Ergonomic assessments determine injury risk factors that may result from high repetition, awkward postures, high forces and a number of other workplace factors that affect how tasks are conducted. These assessments can be tailored to a specific worker’s health concerns or provided on a preventative basis to address potential risk factors for a group of employees. An evaluation of a work station and typical duties is conducted and recommendations are made to reduce the impact of risk factors. Recommendations may include improved worker positioning, modified work style, new tools and equipment, new furniture and/or adjustments to the work space. Our ergonomic assessments are not limited to office workers and are provided for a range of jobs including labour, production and skilled trade positions.
On site education sessions are tailored for each organization based on the nature of the most frequent injuries, typical symptoms reported, and the employee’s unique job requirements. Educational content promotes employee responsibility in avoiding injury and movement patterns and postures that contribute to pain. The employee role in improving workplace safety is also emphasized. Sessions include Safe Lifting & Material Handling and Office Ergonomics.
Job Demands Analysis (JDA)
A job demands analysis quantifies the physical, cognitive, and interpersonal requirements associated with a job and identifies critical demands. Supported by a detailed and easy-to-read report, the JDA provides work disability stakeholders with an objective record of worker requirements and can inform potential job accommodations. By circulating these reports early in the recovery process, healthcare professionals can identify return to work readiness in a timelier manner.
Workplace Accommodation Assessment
Where it has been determined that a return to pre-disability employment is not realistic, many employers seek to accommodate workers by modifying the previous job or providing an alternate job to enable the worker to meet productivity demands safely and dependably. In this context, the Workplace Accommodation Assessment provides employers with a number of recommendations to facilitate durable employment and meet their Duty to Accommodate. Depending on the complexity of recommendations made and safety considerations, subsequent occupational therapy intervention beyond the assessment may be required.
Disability Case Management
Disability case management describes the process by which we assist employees who have difficulty returning to or staying at work to achieve a durable return to work outcome. Each engagement includes early and consistent communication with the client, their healthcare team and employer representatives. Through client interview, a review of available medical and rehabilitation records and a sound understanding of critical job demands, OTs develop safe and effective return to work plans. Plans may include optimizing ergonomics, symptom/disease management strategies, GRTW and referral to specific healthcare services.
Independent Disability Evaluations