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Workplace Injuries and Occupational Therapy

What is a workplace injury?

A workplace injury is any injury that occurs while an individual is at work or performing job-related duties. Injuries can include physical injuries such as cuts, bruises, or broken bones and psychological injuries such as stress or anxiety. Various factors, including accidents, exposure to hazardous materials or conditions, and repetitive motion or stress, can cause workplace injuries. Employers need to provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees to help prevent workplace injuries. If an employee suffers a workplace injury, they need to report it to their employer and seek medical attention.

In Canada, the most common causes of lost-time claims were sprains and strains (27.4%), followed by cuts and lacerations (18.9%), and fractures (13.8%).

What are the most common workplace injuries?

The most common workplace injuries vary depending on the type of work being done and the industry. However, some of the most common types of workplace injuries include the following:

Sprains and strains are injuries to the muscles, tendons, or ligaments that occur when a body part is twisted or pulled unusually. Sprains and strains are often caused by lifting heavy objects or repetitive tasks.

Cuts and lacerations: These injuries occur when the skin is punctured or cut by a sharp object. Various factors, including accidents with tools or machinery or exposure to sharp edges or surfaces, can cause cuts and lacerations.

Fractures: These are injuries in which a bone is broken or cracked. Falls, machinery or equipment accidents or other impacts can cause fractures.

Burns: These are injuries caused by heat, chemicals, or electricity. Burns can range from minor to severe and may require extensive medical treatment.

Back injuries are injuries to the muscles, tendons, or ligaments in the back. Back injuries are often caused by lifting heavy objects or repetitive tasks that strain the back muscles.

Stress and mental health injuries: These are injuries to an individual's mental health, such as stress, anxiety, or depression. Various factors, including work-related stress, harassment, or exposure to traumatic events, can cause stress and mental health injuries.

What are ways someone can recover from a workplace injury?

There are several ways that an individual can recover from a workplace injury, including:

Follow your treatment plan: It is essential to follow the treatment plan recommended by your healthcare provider to recover from your injury fully. This may include taking prescribed medications, undergoing physical therapy, or participating in rehabilitation exercises.

Take time off work: Depending on the severity of your injury, you may need to take time off work to rest and recover. This can help your body heal and prevent further injury.

Modify your work duties: If your injury prevents you from performing your regular duties, you may be able to modify your work duties or work with accommodations to continue working while you recover

In Canada, the industries with the highest rates of lost-time claims were construction (30.1%), manufacturing (19.3%), and healthcare and social assistance (12.1%).

Seek additional support: If you are struggling to cope with the effects of your injury, you may benefit from additional support, such as counselling or therapy.

Use assistive devices: If your injury affects your mobility, you may be able to use assistive devices, such as crutches or a wheelchair, to help you move around more easily.

It is essential to take the time to fully recover from a workplace injury to prevent further injury and ensure that you can return to work safely.

What is a modified return to work plan?

A modified return to work plan is a plan that outlines how an individual who has suffered a workplace injury can safely return to work. The plan may include accommodations or modifications to the individual's work duties or schedule to accommodate their injury and allow them to continue working while they recover.

Modified return-to-work plans are often developed in collaboration with the injured individual, their supervisor, and their healthcare provider. The plan may include reducing the individual's work hours, allowing them to work from home, or providing them with special equipment or assistive devices. A modified return to work plan allows the individual to gradually return to their regular work duties while minimizing the risk of further injury.

Modified return-to-work plans can benefit the injured individual and the employer. For the injured individual, the plan can help them remain productive and maintain their income while they recover. For the employer, the plan can help prevent further injury and minimize the impact of the injury on the company.

What is a job demands analysis?

A job demands analysis is a process used to assess a job's physical, mental, and emotional demands to identify any potential hazards or risks to the employee. A job demands analysis aims to identify any factors contributing to workplace injuries or illnesses and to develop strategies to mitigate those risks.

A job demands analysis typically involves collecting and analyzing data about the tasks and activities performed by an employee, the tools and equipment they use, the environment in which they work, and the job's physical, mental, and emotional demands. Experts may conduct the analysis, including safety professionals, ergonomists, and occupational therapists.

The results of a job demands analysis can be used to identify ways to improve the safety and health of the work environment, such as by redesigning work processes, providing safety training, or purchasing new equipment. It can also be used to identify potential accommodations or modifications necessary to allow an employee who has suffered a workplace injury to return to work safely.

What is a functional abilities evaluation and how is it used in the workforce?

A functional abilities evaluation (FAE) is an assessment of an individual's physical, cognitive, and functional abilities in relation to their job duties. It is often used to determine an individual's ability to safely perform the tasks and activities required by their job or identify any limitations or restrictions that may need to be considered when developing a modified return-to-work plan.

In Canada (2020), there were 599,000 lost-time claims filed with provincial and territorial workers' compensation boards.

An FAE typically involves a comprehensive evaluation of the individual's physical and cognitive abilities and functional capacity. This may include a physical examination, functional testing, and assessing the individual's range of motion, strength, and endurance. The results of the FAE are used to determine the individual's functional abilities and limitations and to identify any accommodations or modifications that may be necessary to allow them to return to work safely.

FAEs are often conducted by occupational therapists or other healthcare professionals trained to evaluate functional abilities. They are typically ordered by an individual's healthcare provider, employer, or workers' compensation insurer as part of the return to work process. The results of the FAE can be used to develop a modified return-to-work plan that considers the individual's functional abilities and limitations.

What is the role of occupational therapy and workplace injuries?

Occupational therapy is a healthcare profession that focuses on helping individuals recover from injuries or disabilities and regain their ability to perform daily activities. Occupational therapists work with individuals to develop treatment plans and interventions that address physical, cognitive, and functional impairments and help them achieve their rehabilitation goals.

In the context of workplace injuries, occupational therapy can play several roles, including:

Assessing functional abilities: Occupational therapists may conduct functional abilities evaluations (FAEs) to assess an individual's physical, cognitive, and functional abilities in relation to their job duties. The results of the FAE can be used to identify any limitations or restrictions that may need to be considered when developing a modified return to work plan.

Rehabilitation services: Occupational therapists may provide rehabilitation services to individuals who have suffered a workplace injury, such as physical therapy or rehabilitation exercises, to help them recover their functional abilities and regain their independence.

Developing a modified return work plan: Occupational therapists may work with individuals and their employers to develop modified return-to-work plans that consider the individual's functional abilities and limitations. They can then provide recommendations for accommodations or modifications necessary to allow the individual to return to work safely.

Providing education and training: Occupational therapists may provide education and training to individuals and their employers on topics such as injury prevention, ergonomics, and safe work practices.

Overall, occupational therapy's role in workplace injuries is to help individuals recover from their injuries, regain their functional abilities, and provide support and guidance to help prevent future injuries.

What is the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)?

The WSIB (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board) is a government agency in Ontario, Canada, responsible for administering the province's workers' compensation system. The WSIB provides no-fault insurance coverage for workers who are injured on the job or who suffer from work-related illnesses. The WSIB covers the costs of medical treatment and rehabilitation and provides income replacement and other benefits to workers who cannot work due to their injuries.

The WSIB also works to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses by promoting safe work practices, providing education and training, and conducting research on occupational health and safety. The WSIB is funded by premiums paid by employers and is governed by a board of directors appointed by the Government of Ontario.


Home | WSIB. (n.d.).

OH&S Legislation in Canada – Injury Reporting : OSH Answers. (n.d.).

Return to Work - Job Demands Analysis : OSH Answers. (n.d.).

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