Injured workers dissatisfied with compensation system

November 18, 2003

A large proportion of injured workers feel pressured to return to work before they are ready, finds a University of Toronto survey. The study by occupational therapy researchers asked injured workers about their experiences with the compensation and rehabilitation system in Ontario.

More than one-third of the 290 respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, "I felt pressured to get better faster than I was able to." Less than half reported being satisfied with their return-to-work experience and many reported experiencing high levels of stress and depression as a result of the claims process. The survey results are discussed in the November issue of the journal Work.

"People felt that, as injured workers, they had to live with a lack of respect and trust in their word and that was very depressing for them," says principal investigator Bonnie Kirsh, who co-authored the study with fellow U of T occupational therapy professor Pat McKee. "We must listen to what workers need and support and respect them in their recovery. Ways to achieve this could include encouraging continued communications between employer and employee, ensuring that modified work is suitable, providing access to counselling facilities and informing the injured worker of his or her rights."

The latter is especially important because many of the injured workers surveyed indicated they did not have the information they needed about rights and processes to proceed with their claim in an educated manner, says Kirsh.

The survey was part of a larger participatory research study, funded by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, in which injured workers acted as members of the research team and contributed to the survey design.
CONTACT: Professor Bonnie Kirsh, Department of Occupational Therapy, 416-978-4647, or Jessica Whiteside, U of T public affairs, 416-978-5948,

University of Toronto

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