Return to work

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Learn what to include on a list of the worker’s restrictions, what the health care provider should do while caring for an injured worker and why return to work when medically safe is so important.

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Return to work is a vital part of the recovery process. Because most workers can perform sedentary or light duties very soon after their injuries, the primary practitioner should give the worker a list of any restrictions they may have because of the injury. The worker should be advised to give the list to the employer, so the employer can adjust the worker’s duties to allow a return to work during recovery.

The primary practitioner should maintain ongoing communication with the worker, the employer, other health care professionals and the WCB to support and encourage full return to work when medically safe.

Our goal is to return injured workers to their normal activities as soon as medically safe. This requires a working partnership of workers, health care providers, employers and the WCB.

The longer injured workers are away from their normal activities, the higher the risk they may never return to those activities — including work. Injured workers who keep to their normal routine, including going to work, heal faster than those who don’t.

While caring for an injured worker, the care provider will:

Set out a treatment plan.

  • Start return to work planning by listing any restrictions the worker has because of the injury.
  • Share this list with the worker and the employer.
  • Report the injury to the WCB.
  • Ask the WCB to make appointments for diagnostic tests and other care providers (i.e., physiotherapists, chiropractors, specialists, as appropriate).
  • Bill the WCB directly for the worker’s medical costs.
  • Set up a plan to monitor the worker’s progress and to update work restrictions as recovery proceeds.

Most injured workers need only primary level care from their local care providers.

Workers with serious injuries, or who don’t recover as expected, may need advanced testing and treatment that is not always available locally.

The worker may be asked to attend daily treatment at a centre for advanced care that is located in another community. The WCB will cover the cost of travel and other expenses, if these costs are more than what the worker normally would pay to get to and from work.

For more information, see our recovery and return to work page.