What research can do: Manitoba’s WCB uses IWH research in update of RTW workshop

Published: February 24, 2023

When the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba (WCB) decided to update its Return to Work Basics workshop, it wanted to build confidence in the content by including evidence-based guidance from trusted sources. For a key part of the workshop, it turned to the Institute for Work & Health (IWH).

The workshop, which lasts a full day, is designed to help employers develop (or update) and implement sound and effective return-to-work programs to support workers following a workplace injury or illness. Other WCB stakeholders, such as labour and union representatives, are also encouraged to attend.

In the updated version, the Return to Work Basics workshop comprises six modules. One of the modules, Module 3, is based largely on a guide created by IWH in 2007. This guide, called the Seven Principles for Successful Return to Work, was drawn from an IWH systematic review of studies on the effectiveness of return-to-work interventions. The guide identified seven elements that contribute to a successful return to work. Over the years, disability management professionals would come to refer to them simply as “the Seven Principles.”

Referencing the valuable work of IWH helps bring legitimacy to the content of the workshop, says Kim Keating, Manager, Return to Work Program Services, Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba. IWH is seen as an impartial, evidence-based source of information for both prevention of work injury and illness and return-to-work strategies, says Keating. Alongside Jamie Hall, Vice President, SAFE Work Manitoba, a division of the WCB, Keating has also shared IWH research in a presentation called Psychological Health & Safety and the Importance of Solid Return to Work Principles.

The importance of the seven principles is magnified when dealing with more complex or severe injuries or conditions, including those related to mental health, says Keating. We continue to look to IWH research for reliable and impartial information to help guide our injury prevention and return-to-work policies and programs. We also encourage participants in our workshops to sign up for the IWH newsletter.

This column is based on an impact case study published in February 2023. Read the full case study