Unsuccessful Return to Work in an Electrical Utility

Electrical Utility | Return to work | Low Back | Modified Work

1. Organizations Involved

Electrical Utility

2. Description of the Case

2.1 Introduction/Background

In a mid-sized electrical utility in Ontario, worker D has a back injury at work opening a hatch at foot level that weigh 68 kg (150 lb.) alone. This is one of many back injuries this company has had doing this exact task with various hatches. D is not lifting the entire weight as it is hinged on one side. A WSIB claim is filed and D returns to work on Early and Safe Return to Work duties in the office. The WSIB Functional Abilities Form from D’s doctor indicates no lifting for D’s back injury.

2.2 Goal

A safe and early return to work for a worker after a low back pain claim.

2.3 What was done and how?

D returns to work on Early and Safe Return to Work duties in the office. S asks D if he can drive a large truck (which has a heavy-duty suspension that bounces the driver up and down). D agrees to try it even though advised not to by a safety person.

2.4 Result of the changes?

D is injured even worse and goes off work for a prolonged period of time. Ultimately, D is disabled permanently

3. Success Factors/ Challenges

Prior to D’s injury, an assessment of the task was started but the person doing this left the company. Two people were hurt doing this task after the assessment was started. A new method of opening hatches was created involving D and other workers that do the job. New hatches were designed. Training was delivered, and a rule was established. No one has been hurt doing this job for the last 14 years.

4. Transferability

Similar challenges could be seen in many companies




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DISCLAIMER: CRE-MSD receives funding through a grant provided by the Ontario Ministry of Labour. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Province.

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