Injured Workers’ Perspectives on How Workplace Accommodations are Conceptualized and Delivered Following Electrical Injuries
- 445 Downloads
Purpose Returning to work following an electrical injury can be challenging due to the confluence of physical, cognitive and emotional impairments. Workplace accommodations can facilitate return to work. However, while electrical injuries can have potentially devastating consequences, there is a dearth of understanding of how workplace accommodations are obtained following electrical injury. This paper explores workers’ experiences of returning to work and accommodations following an occupation electrical injury. Methods Thirteen semi-structured qualitative telephone interviews were conducted with injured workers recruited from acute and rehabilitation burns programs in Ontario, Canada. Thematic analysis was employed to identify themes related to the request and provision of accommodations. Findings Findings reveal that accommodations are most frequently narrowly defined in relation to physical work restrictions, leading to the exclusion of cognitive and psychosocial concerns. Challenges within the accommodations process such as perceived legitimacy, a do-it-yourself approach to accommodations, and concerns regarding job security can also influence workers’ decisions to request accommodations. Process elements that facilitate the effective provision of workplace accommodations include: (1) finding a “just right” fit between workers’ abilities and assigned tasks and duties (2) establishing effective lines of communication between relevant stakeholders; (3) prompt response to needs; (4) having a knowledgeable individual in a position of power to advocate on workers’ behalf. Conclusions Further education regarding electrical injuries and workplace accommodations is warranted to increase workers’, employers’, health and insurance personnels’ knowledge about electrical injury and best practices for providing workplace accommodations.
KeywordsRehabilitation Vocational Electrical injuries Return to work Workplace accommodations Employment Qualitative research
This study was supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research-Institute for Gender and Health Grant (# OGW123786). The authors would like to thank the workers who participated in this study for sharing their experiences and knowledge regarding the work that they do, the challenges they experience and their strength and dedication to their professions. We would also like to acknowledge the Ross Tilley Burn Centre and St. John’s Rehab for this assistance with recruitment, and the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute Foundation and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, which provided funding under the Provincial Rehabilitation Research Program to the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network. Support for Dr. Colantonio was provided by the CIHR-IGH Chair, Gender, Work and Health (# CGW-126580) and the Saunderson Family Chair in Acquired Brain Injury Research at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.
- 1.ESFI white paper on occupational electrical accidents in the U.S. 2003–2009. [homepage on the internet]. http://www.esfi.org/index.cfm/page/ESFI-White-Paper-on-Occupational-Electrical-Accidents-in-the-U.S-2003--2009-Now-Available/cdid/11514/pid/10262.
- 2.Electrical safety authority safety report, 11th Edition. 2009. [homepage on the internet]. http://www.esasafe.com/pdf/Safety_Reports/2011/ESA-OESR-2011-All-FA-singles.pdf.
- 5.Hiehlbronner R, Pliskin N. Psychological issues in the neurorehabilitation of electrical injuries. NeuroRehabilitation. 1999;13(2):127–32.Google Scholar
- 6.Primeau M. Neurorehabilitation of behavioural disorders following lightning and electrical trauma. Neuro Rehabil. 2005;20:24–33.Google Scholar
- 7.Pliskin N, Ammar A, Fink J, Hill K, Malina A, Ramati A, Kelly K, Lee R. Neuropsychological changes following electrical injury. J Int Neuropsych Soc. 2006;12:17–23.Google Scholar
- 8.Pliskin N, Fink J, Malina A, Moran S, Kelley K, Capelli-Schellpfeffer M, Lee R. The neuropsychological effects of electrical injury: New insights. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1999;888:140–9.Google Scholar
- 10.Capelli-Schellpfeffer M. Roadblocks to return to work after electrical trauma. Neuro Rehabil. 2005;20(1):49–52.Google Scholar
- 11.Yarnell P. Neurorehabilitation of cerebral disorders following lighting and electrical burns. Neuro Rehabil. 2005;20:15–8.Google Scholar
- 16.Calsafern K, Treherne, J, van der Leer G. BC’s mental health reform: best practices in psychosocial rehabilitation and recovery 2002. [homepage on the internet]. http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/mhd/best.html.
- 19.Stoddard S. Personal assistance services as a workplace accommodation. Work. 2006;27:362–9.Google Scholar
- 21.Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom 1982. [homepage on the internet]. http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/page-15.html.
- 22.Employment Equity Act, last amended 2012. [homepage on the internet]. http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/E-5.401/.
- 23.Canadian Human Rights Act, last amended 2012. [homepage on the internet]. http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/h-6/.
- 24.Ontario Human Rights Code, last amended 2012. [homepage on the internet]. http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90h19_e.htm.
- 25.Accessibility for Ontarians Disability Act 2005 [homepage on the internet]. http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/source/regs/english/2011/elaws_src_regs_r11191_e.htm.
- 34.Lippel J. Workers describe the effect of the workers’ compensation process on their health: a Quebec study. Int J Law Psychiatr. 2007;30(4):427–43.Google Scholar
- 47.Kirsh B, Stergiou-Kita M, Gewurtz R, Dawson D, Krupa T, Lysaght R, Shaw L. From margins to mainstream: what do we know about work integration for persons with brain injury, mental illness and intellectual disability. Work. 2008;32:391–405.Google Scholar
- 51.Young, Amanda E. Return to work stakeholders’ perspectives on work disability. In: Handbook of work disability. New York: Springer; 2013. pp. 409–423.Google Scholar