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Most people go to work in the morning and return home safely when the day is done. But every day in Nova Scotia, people are hurt on the job, sometimes seriously. That is what we try to raise awareness about during NAOSH Week and throughout the rest of the year.
The Workers’ Compensation Board is there to help injured workers when that happens. We work with injured workers to provide financial assistance. We also help them get back to work in a safe and timely way. That is an important part of the WCB’s mandate.
Work is more than a paycheque. It gives us a sense of purpose and satisfaction, a means of contributing to our families and our communities. Research shows that workers separated from the workplace are at increased risk of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, social isolation, marriage problems and even suicide. We also know that the longer an injured worker is off the job, the higher the likelihood that they will never return; so missing time from work due to an injury can cost much more than a salary.
Everyone benefits when an injured worker is able to return to work. The worker gets back to their regular life and avoids the negative consequences that often come with a long absence from the workplace; the employer has an important and productive member of the team back on the job. A safe and timely return to work can also reduce overall costs for the Workplace Safety Insurance System.
The majority of workplace injuries in Nova Scotia are sprains and strains. While recovering from these and some other injuries, an employee can often return the workplace with limited or transitional duties. Over the past few years, the WCB has worked closely with employers and employees to continue to improve services that help injured workers make a safe and timely return to work. That includes:
Direct Access to Physiotherapists and Chiropractors – this program enables workers suffering from sprains and strains to go directly to a WCB approved health care provider, such as a physiotherapist or a chiropractor for an assessment, allowing the return-to-work process to begin right away.
Enhanced Physician Services – the WCB offers care from a group of physicians from around Nova Scotia with additional training and interest in occupational medicine to assist injured workers with a safe a timely return to work. They can be accessed by a WCB case worker or by an injured worker’s regular family physician.
Centralized Surgical Services Program –To speed up care for injured workers returning to work, the WCB announced last month a new partnership with Annapolis Valley Health to implement centralized surgical services that use available operating room time and surgeon capacity not funded by the public healthcare system.
Maritime Occupational Medicine Continuing Medical Education – WCB is working with the Workers’ Compensation Board of Prince Edward Island, WorksafeNB and Dalhousie University Continuing Medical Education to develop accredited online education for Family Physicians. The first module, “The Pitfalls of Prescribing Time Off” was released in 2013 and new modules are in development.
Outreach and Relationship Building – The WCB continues to work with employers, workers, the medical community and many others to develop best practices that can help injured workers make a safe and timely return to work.
We are seeing steady progress in reducing the number of Nova Scotians hurt on the job each year. And we are also seeing improvements in reducing the duration of time people are off the job due to an injury. Let’s keep making progress in getting Nova Scotians back to work after an injury.