Return to Work: Allied Windows (2 of 6)

Uploaded by WorkSafeBC on 05.05.2011

Mid-August 2007, we had a young fellow working in one of our trailers.
Although we think we had taught him how to properly load windows,
either he wasn’t supervised well enough, or wasn’t paying enough attention.
But he was severely injured and for the rest of us it was the big wake-up call.
Well I joined the company in 2006, and at that time, there was no health and safety manual,
there was no safe work procedures,
and no one to really manage the claims and to be in compliance with WorkSafe regulations.
So that was my role and that was my responsibility here.
And it was quite the task ahead of us, because we were averaging between 700 to 800 time loss days
and our claims costs were high and experience rating was high.
I really didn’t know where to start, so I started with the Return to Work Program,
and that was something that I had done in my previous company as well.
And I knew the benefits of it, so I started working on that right away.
First I had many meetings with the general manager and the plant manager about the benefits of the Return to Work Program
and exactly what it is, the concept of it, and how to implement it in our workforce.
When we were starting the program and we were starting the form, the Return to Work form,
we didn’t know what duties would be listed on here,
so the plant manager and I walked the floor and we tried to look at duties that a person on a gradual Return to Work Program can do.
So a person with a back strain, can they do a job as a welder? Can they do a job as a saw operator?
And so we assessed all the jobs and then we focused on those jobs on our form
and described it in great detail, focusing on the task itself,
if a person had to lift or carry and how much.
Bend, sit, or stand – any components that a doctor or family physician would look at.
We are a unionized workforce – CAW, Canadian Autoworkers – and they’re quite a strong union
and have that influence over their members. So we did have that resistance in the beginning.
But education and communication would be the key to changing the culture,
to changing the way that people think, to introducing a new form or a new concept.
In these last three to four years, we’ve implemented a successful Return to Work Program
and have a full health and safety manual.
We have a buy-in from our top management, we have the support of our union,
which took a lot of persistence and a lot of education.
Our employees are cooperative, too. They understand the Return to Work Program and how it benefits them.
So the Return to Work Plan advantages both teams, both sides.
If we have somebody that’s returning in a week, we plan accordingly.
If we know the Return to Work is in two months, we can plan accordingly.
The flip side is so can the employee.
We’ve got sometimes dozens of years invested in some of these skills.
We have people that have been here for 25 years.
They know more than most, and we can’t lose that tribal knowledge, as we call it.
So the quicker we can get the tribal knowledge back to work, the better.