In December 2010, Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) released a number of new operational policies and rolled out a modified return-to-work program, entitled Work Reintegration. The new Work Reintegration model revamps the return-to-work principles; sets out roles and responsibilities for all workplace parties; and puts greater responsibility on the WSIB to be involved in, and to help manage and navigate, the return-to-work process. Since 1998, the WSIB has been working on a self-reliance model with respect to return-to-work issues. They determined that changes were required and began the process of amending the program around 2005. New return-to-work policies were drafted in 2006 and were released for review, but were never implemented. On December 1, 2010, a number of new policies were released.
The overall goal of the Work Reintegration program is to assist injured workers in returning to meaningful and productive work as quickly and safely as possible. The focus will be on assisting workers in returning to either their pre-injury position or another suitable occupation (SO) with the injury employer. The Work Reintegration, Principles, Concepts and Definitions policy (http://www.wsib.on.ca/en/communit y/WSIB/230/OPMDetail/24347?vgne xtoid=d20bc0d9ca3d7210VgnVCM10 0000449c710aRCRD&vgnextchannel =ed6eee40cb05e110VgnVCM100000 0e18120aRCRD) outlines that the WSIB will be responsible for providing the tools and services required to support the efforts of the workplace parties in achieving successful outcomes. It remains the responsibility of employers and workers to identify return-towork opportunities and issues in the workplace, and to fulfill their obligations. The WSIB has outlined penalties in cases where either workers or employers do not cooperate in the return-to-work process.
The WSIB has also recognized that decision making with respect to vocational rehabilitation services has, in many cases, taken a long time and delayed the workers’ reintegration into the labour market. The new model outlines decision-making timelines with respect to workforce reintegration and work transition programs, making the WSIB responsible for responding to situations where a worker has not returned to work within six months of the workplace accident. Where possible, the WSIB will assist workers in transitioning back to work with the injury employer. Where a return with the injury employer is not possible, the WSIB will support a worker in returning to an SO with revamped vocational rehabilitation services, including job placement.
The goal of the revamped program is to keep claims moving through the compensation system through returnto- work efforts. More timely decision making and more proactive services will help remove some of the barriers that prolong claims and sometimes make it more difficult for workers to return to the workforce.
For more information on the WSIB’s Work Reintegration program, or to view the new policies, go to www.wsib.on.ca. how we can help you manage your claims and associated costs.