Safety beat

WCB Program Helps Injured Workers Return to Work

Carlos Pereira can't say enough about WCB-Alberta's Occupational Injury Service (OIS), a program specifically designed for work-related injuries. As the health and safety coordinator for the Edmonton location of Gordon Food Services (GFS), he says the program has made a huge difference to his company's health and safety efforts as well as its bottom line.

"I can't think of any logical reason why a company wouldn't use OIS," he says. "I would encourage employers to talk to others who use the program, go to an orientation session, ask questions and get to know the OIS staff."

OIS clinics offer multiple benefits to employers such as GFS. If workers are injured, they can receive same-day access to an OIS physician, in-depth medical reporting, clear treatment communication and expedited diagnostic services such as MRIs. There are 20 OIS clinics across Alberta.

GFS has been using the OIS program for three years. With customers across Canada and the United States, GFS employs approximately 800 people. When GFS signed up with OIS, a worksite visit was conducted at the GFS facility. Occupational specialists learned more about the company's operation and gathered on-site information about the physical job demands.

"Because they are aware of what we do, they're able to assess an injury and have a better sense of the mechanism of injury," Pereira explained.

Statistics show, on average, injured workers who attend an OIS clinic can return to work and perform modified duties sooner. Pereira's experience with the program certainly supports the statistics. He has noticed a definite reduction in recovery time for his worker's injuries.

"From three years ago to today, there's no comparison in terms of recovery rates." he says. "Injuries aren't taking the typical amount of time to heal, which makes the time line shorter. I couldn't be happier."

Using OIS has helped GFS retain skilled employees and avoid having to hire and retrain replacement workers. It has also reduced the company's compensation costs because workers are treated faster and back on the job sooner.

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