A refresher on WCB claims as we head into a busy construction season
By Cliff Gerow, Injury Solutions Canada
Spring has sprung, the grass is green and we wonder where the construction is? It’s everywhere! Thank goodness it’s construction season again.
With construction season comes seasonal work and seasonal workers, so we thought it was time to do some quick reminders for employers about the pitfalls that face us during the short season as it pertains to workers and injuries.
We have gone over this topic before, but a quick refresher is never a bad thing.
Do you have a solid hiring plan? What? Yes, a hiring plan. Besides the obvious questions – are they qualified for the job, do they fit your organization, etc. – have you considered a fit for duty assessment for all new employees? This is a screening, usually by a physical therapist, that takes about an hour, costs approximately $100 and provides very objective findings about whether the applicants are physically able to fulfill the role you are asking them to do. It is amazing how much this small investment can save you in the long haul in lost time and downtime.
Do you have an established, documented return to work (RTW) program? It is required by the WCB Act and is vital for your company to react quickly in the event there is an injury in the workplace and to prevent unnecessary lost time incidents that could have been prevented. This plan, if you have one, is of no value if no one knows about it and it is collecting dust on a shelf somewhere. Every employee, no matter their level, must be made aware of it. That includes what the program involves, what each employee’s responsibilities are and what their individual expectations are, as well as the expectations of all other stakeholders within the program to make it operate properly. We suggest, in the strongest terms possible, that every employee be made aware of the program and that their participation in it is a condition of their employment. Do this during each employee’s onboarding event, document it and have the employee sign off. We also suggest that this be repeated on at least a semi-annual basis and mention the program regularly at toolbox meetings or other safety discussions.
Have a functioning safety program on site – again, not just on paper but as part of the culture of your company. This means that once everyone has been instructed on the safety of the site, ensure that all infractions, no matter how small, are documented and take the opportunity to educate. I know this can be a pain at times, but as we have always said, documentation will set you free! This is true if it comes to a WCB claim, a harassment claim or any other such dilemma you find yourself in. Photographs speak volumes and you can’t have enough, trust me, so take them from all angles and have something with a scale in them to prove size and shape, if necessary.
Ensure all equipment is safe. Employees must follow proper procedures for use and maintenance. Early Monday mornings or late Friday afternoons are always the “danger hours,” when it can be tempting to try get things done before deadlines or before the end of the day, but we all want to go home in one piece. Take the time to take the time.
An unseen injury is a difficult injury to work with. Discussing psychological injuries could be an article in and of itself, but for now, we’ll let you know that the WCB in Saskatchewan has assigned a single point of contact in dealing with these types of injuries. All stakeholders will have the same person to contact, so we are hoping that should streamline the process and make communication easier, although for employers, that has not yet been the experience to date, but we are hopeful.
The Saskatchewan WCB is also ending its COVID-19 cost relief in June and that will have direct impact on employers; you will have to deal with COVID-related claims as any other communicable disease, which will make them much more difficult to claim. This is just an FYI for all.
Now I know what you are all thinking, and we hear this all the time, “I am not in the business of doing all this kind of stuff, I am in the business of building things. How do I do all of this and do what I love to do?”
That is where we and other third-party operators come into play. Like you, we are good at preparing all these plans, presenting them to you and your staff and dealing with all the other headaches in your life.