One of the main tools used by Ontario employers to assist in identifying suitable work for an injured worker is the Functional Abilities Form for Timely Return to Work ("FAF"). If completed properly, it can assist employers and workers in identifying suitable work. If not, it can frustrate the return to work process.
The FAF has been under review by Ontario's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board ("WSIB") since November 2000, and after much consultation, the updated form has finally been released. The new form, now called the Functional Abilities Form for Planning Early and Safe Return to Work, is longer, easier to follow, and clearer in the information requested of the health care professional completing it.
The updated form has removed the very contentious "as tolerated" option from the area of the form describing the injured workers' functional abilities. This area includes specific abilities related to sitting, standing, walking and lifting, as well as an option to choose "other". Should the health care professional select the "other" option, they are required to specify restrictions or functional abilities. In addition, the new FAF provides health care providers with an ability to specify a start date for return to work, which should help employers in the planning process.
The WSIB has made the FAF, and a Guide to Completing the FAF available on their website. A ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ document is also available for common questions arising from the use of the FAF in planning for return to work. For more information, and to access the FAF, please visit the WSIB website at www.wsib.on.ca .