Injured Workers’ Perspectives on How Workplace Accommodations are Conceptualized and Delivered Following Electrical Injuries
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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.
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