9. Benefits of Modified Work

May 10, 2021

Many companies look for ways to save money on their WCB Premiums; reduce their incident severity rates; and return skilled workers to their regular duties as quick and efficiently as possible. In-line with safety, the best tool to use for this is Modified Work

Modified work is providing reduced or alternate duties to a worker which allows them to return to work before they are fully recovered. There are a couple of criteria for this to be workable; the work must be meaningful and must be within a physician’s recommendations and limitations for the worker.   

Modified duties can include a combination of the following elements: 

  • Changes to regular job tasks – ex. reduction in total weight that the worker must carry 
  • Alteration of workstation – ex. Reduce the distance required to reach workstation, or to allow elevation of an injured limb 
  • Changes in work hours – ex. Start by working only four hours a day, gradually working towards normal shift length 
  • Offer alternate work – ex. Conduct administrative work, if alternation of work is handled skillfully, your employee will have gained additional knowledge and abilities, making them increasingly valuable to the workplace  
  • Send to relevant training – ex. Safety training, university or trade skills course 

An excellent aspect of modified work is its benefit to both the worker and the employer. Benefits to the employer include: 

  • A potential reduction in WCB costs 
  • Reduction in turnover; workers that stay away from work for long periods do not often return. Retaining them means you don’t have to hire and train new people. 
  • A solid modified work program can lead to an increase in worker morale. It indicates that the employer cares and that there is job security following an incident. 

Benefits to the worker include: 

  • Job security and income security 
  • A sense of camaraderie and belonging.  Workers that spend a lot of time home and away from work mates can become despondent. 

So, where do I start if I want to create a modified work program? A great place to start is with your Provincial WCB; they will undoubtably have resources you can use. Another spot is to check with your industry safety association (if you have one). Lastly, find a qualified safety professional that is willing to help put one together. 

To close, I will leave you with a story which the Alberta WCB wrote a few years back. It is about the experiences of a worker that I was involved with regarding modified duties. The story starts on Page 12.  

Here is the link: WCB Worksight – Winter 2016 edition