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We all know what pain lost-time injuries can cause a workplace, and we
have written extensively on this in other articles. So, what can you do about
it? First, you must understand that it is the injured workers’ responsibility
to mitigate his/her wage loss, if possible, under the WCB Act. It is also their
responsibility to cooperate with a viable RTW program if one exists and all
restrictions can be accommodated if medically cleared to do so. Medical
care providers all have a responsibility first and foremost to the welfare of
their patients, but they also have a responsibility to cooperate with and
supply objective restrictions for these injured workers so the employer
can accommodate them. They all have professional associations and those
associations all have agreements with the provincial government to fully
participate in the RTW process and provide objective restrictions so the injured
worker can be accommodated in a work position wherever possible.
This resistance on the part of medical care providers to participate in the
RTW program is the biggest obstacle we have seen in representing clients,
and the topic was even discussed in a meeting recently with Minister Don
Morgan as one of the two biggest impediments to the RTW process. More
education via the professional associations involved with the primary medical
care providers would help solve some of this issue. An employer only
has two avenues of appeal to this problem – firstly to the professional association
of the medical care provider and secondly to the WCB case manager
involved in the claim.
This brings us to the second problem area, the WCB itself. I know,
what am I talking about, right? It was their legislation that put the requirement
for a RTW program in place for all employers, how could they
be the problem?
The WCB relies almost completely on medical evidence to adjudicate
a claim, so if they have medical documentation to suggest something, that
is what they follow. I am glad they do, as they clearly do not want the likes
of me or any employer telling them what medical advice they should and
should not listen to. But that is also the problem.
When a primary care provider fails to provide the employer with a list of
restrictions and just takes an injured worker off work completely, the WCB
has not typically done anything in relation to the omission of any issued
restrictions for the injury to be accommodated. They certainly punish the
employer if they do not accommodate an injured worker. What should we
as employers reasonably expect?
• We should expect that the WCB case manager knows that the medical
care provider is required to provide restrictions if medically fit.
• We should expect that the WCB case manager checks with the employer
to determine if there is accommodated work available.
• We should expect that the WCB case manager should reach out to the
attending medical care provider and inquire as to why no restrictions
were issued. This is not to try to direct medical care, but to advise the
medical care provider that accommodated duties are available if the
patient is medically fit.
• We should expect that the WCB case manager adhere to their own
policies and procedures to manage the RTW to ensure all participants
are fully engaged for the best outcome for the injured worker.
The breakdown of these two issues is the biggest impediment for successful
RTW programs for employers and causes the biggest issues between
injured workers and the employers. I believe some in-service
training for both the primary care providers and the WCB case management
staff would alleviate most, if not all, of these two issues.
Clifford Gerow is the executive director of Injury Solutions Canada Inc.
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50 Think BIG | Quarter 4 2020 | saskheavy.ca