Roadblocks to Return to
Work Program Success
Two main obstacles prevent progress in many cases
OBy Clifford Gerow, Injury Solutions Canada Inc.
ver the past five years, Injury Solutions Canada Inc. has
been hounding the employers we represent to have a very
robust return to work (RTW) program for their workplace.
We tell them it is best for their business economically, best for their
employees’ health and creates a happy workplace environment – also, it
is the law! The Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) in Saskatchewan
passed the law in 2013 that all employers require a written RTW policy.
As we progress through the RTW process with several employers, we
keep running into two main obstacles:
1. Primary medical care providers
2. The WCB
Medical care providers – not all, but most – do not particularly care if
you have a RTW program or not. Their focus is on the injury or condition
of the patient in the narrowest of terms. It is quick and easy to examine
the patient, diagnose the issue, prescribe treatment and issue a time-off
note. It is not so easy to work with the injured worker and employer to find
suitable work-related restrictions that require accommodations by the employer.
That process takes more time, which can be more profitably spent
seeing other patients – as we must remember, these primary care providers
operate their own businesses and rely on higher numbers to make their
The most prepared RTW program a business has established is no match
for an uncooperative medical care provider who will not provide medical
or physical restrictions. We have experienced that even when an injured
worker follows all the right rules in a RTW program, takes the restrictions
form with them, explains to the medical provider that their employer can
accommodate any and all restrictions and that they are personally agreeing
to return working in an accommodated position, the medical care provider
still takes them off work with no listed objective restrictions and no reasoning
for their decision.
Now you, as the employer, have an employee who comes back to you
and advises that under medical advise, he/she will not be returning to
work for the noted time period without first being medically cleared by
their physician, physio or chiro. Now a conflict occurs between the employer
and the injured worker because the medical care provider clearly
knows better what is best for the injured worker, not some RTW program.
This leaves the company in a position of a lost-time injury, which
will hurt its safety record, raise premiums and hurt current and future
bidding on contracts.
phartisan / 123rf
thinkbigmagazine.ca | Quarter 4 2020 | Think BIG 49