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Safety Matters


Our blog discussing workplace safety opportunities in Nova Scotia and around the world.

Top 5 Best Practice Tips for Successful Return to Work

Workplace injury cost Nova Scotia’s economy the equivalent of 3,131 person-years of work in 2020 – a staggering statistic that underlines a call to action for workers, employers, and health care providers across the province.

Although the pandemic’s impact on the workforce, last year, is a big part of the reduction in claims, that the new low in time-loss workplace injury still speaks to long-term progress in Nova Scotia’s safety culture, and the dedication of workers, employers, and stakeholders to safer outcomes. 

In 2020, reduced access to physiotherapy and other health services is part of the reason for the increased time lost to workplace injury, as well as the fact that transitional duties or graduated return to work plans weren’t always options during lockdowns. 

However, the underlying issues when it comes to claim durations are much more complex. Increasing psychological injury and an aging population are also contributing to the problem. For example, in 2000, the average age of a Nova Scotian injured on the job was 37. In 2020, it was 43.

While injury prevention is the best way to keep people in your workplace safe and reduce overall costs, putting an effective return-to-work program in place is key to managing the impact of an injury. Reducing injuries and supporting employees when an injury occurs will also reduce your workers’ compensation premiums.

A return-to-work program is a plan to help an injured worker return to productive employment as soon as it’s safe and suitable to do so. In fact, getting workers back on the job is an important part of their recovery process. 

As an employer or manager, your role in supporting an employee injured at work through their treatment plan is critical to their success, and ultimately, to yours. 

Here are the Top 5 most important parts of a successful return-to-work program:

1. Prevent the Injury

You have the responsibility to create a safety culture in your workplace by making injury prevention your top priority.

2. Partners and Responsibilities

A successful return-to-work journey requires a team who works together, stays connected and shares their knowledge and expertise. Employers, WCB case workers, and health care providers, all have responsibilities to the person injured at work and the larger team – working together on the same plan to get the employee working to well. 

3. Policy and Procedures

A Return-to-work policy details a workplace’s approach to return-to-work by outlining clear and easy-to-follow steps for helping a person injured at work get back to their job as soon as it is safe to do so. The key to a successful return-to-work program is strong leadership and guidance, coupled with a positive collaboration between your employee and all the return-to-work partners. 

4. Transitional Duties

Transitional duties play a very important role in your employee’s recovery process, serving as a bridge until your employee can safely return to their regular duties. Transitional, or modified, duties are any temporary changes to an employee’s job that aligns with their functional abilities after an injury. In other words, duties that match what they are able to do.

5. My Account 

Submitting claims fast and online through MyAccount means you and your employee can access the right service at the right time, so recovery can begin sooner. Monitor your company’s claim costs and progress in real-time, send and receive messages and documents securely using secure messaging. 

Check out the Working to Well section of our website - it’s packed with resources to help reduce the human and economic toll of workplace injury in our province.

Safety and Health Week is a great time to pause and reflect on safety and return to work, and to reinforce the principles and practices that make your workplace safe. 

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