Employers A review panel examined the WCB’s

Employers operate disability management programs to prevent increasing costs due to disabilities and occupational illnesses. They recognize the value of promoting and preventing injuries and disabilities in maintaining healthy workplaces.  Operating unsafely may produce short term rewards for employers, but long-term costs as a result of injuries and illnesses can be avoided by changing the focus from cost saving to prevention, by promoting health and wellness, early treatment for injuries, good return to work and modified work programs.  Where employees experience acute injuries and mental health issues, early access to mental health care professionals or medications can speed up recovery.  Disability management programs help reduce absenteeism, illness and injury incidences, claims, benefits premiums, and employee replacements when the injured employees cannot return to work, because these disrupt productivity in the workplace. (Kelloway, K., & Francis, L: 2011) Increased pressure from human rights and occupational health and safety legislation have made employers more focused on meeting their obligations to introduce comprehensive disability management programs in their workplaces. The goal of occupational health and safety legislation is to ensure that organizations focus their efforts on eliminating work-related illnesses and injuries. Legislation continues to evolve and get enhanced over time to protect workers and hold employers more responsible and accountable for the injuries that occur in the service of their work.  Injury management; which is a big part of disability management program has always been riddled with conflict.  Employers’ may be more interested minimizing their costs by organizing work in unsafe, but cost saving ways, and contesting claims, and employees would be protesting the unfairness of the system that seems to make them losers all around.  (Gail McKay, 2012, pp. 219-224)An Act to Protect the Health and Wellbeing of Working Albertans (Bill 30) is an example of how the government is trying to address the imbalance of power by ensuring that compensation boards (WCBs) provide meaningful rehabilitation and compensation for injured workers.  A review panel examined the WCB’s effectiveness, legislation, compensation and policies and made changes that will make injury compensation better for employees. Among the changes made were enshrining the right of employees to refuse unsafe work without penalty, creation of site health and safety committees and expanding other rules for safer workplaces. WCB will also not be focused so much on whether they are following claim policies, but rather looking at whether they are supporting the injured worker as much as possible. Employees would still be supported while their claims are being processed, mitigating the mental stress they would be undergoing due to their injury. (Legislative Assembly of Alberta, 2017)The existence of the disability plans may not in itself help reduce injuries in workplaces. Employers need to be invested in creating safer places.  Formulating policies that are in compliance with the legislations governing this area, and then enforcing them by educating and making employee and management involvement a priority would make these programs more successful.  Once physical and psychological hazards have been identified, they would be addressed promptly to prevent further injury or illness to employees. Disability management programs would foster positive safety climates where the company goals are clearly communicated and employee involvement is encouraged.When injuries do occur, an employer motivated by making sure their employees’ health and welfare is a priority will make sure there is early intervention and follow up by responsible parties to ensure that the employee is receiving all the help possible. Well formulated return to work plans including accommodation will help the employee ease back into the workforce. The longer employees are away from work and receiving benefits, the more it costs the employer. Return to work programs that are not well thought out may cause the employer to prematurely return employees who are not ready, exacerbating the problem or creating new ones. Employers that are directly involved in getting their employees back to work will help with the investigation and management of the claims. Keeping the injured employee in the loop about decisions, and alternatives available will prevent them from feeling isolated and disengaged, and employees who perceive the value their employer places on them are mentally helped to recover.  Other services that employers may want to incorporate into their disability management systems would be employee and family assistance programs so all employees can access help for problems that they may encounter, at work or in their personal lives.  This would help them address problems before they begin to affect their work, including health and safety. (Kelloway, K., & Francis, L: 2011)