On June 12th, 2013 AIM hosted its 4th Candidly Speaking workshop, “Navigating the Waters of Return to Work”, focusing on the process of return to work after an injury. 45 participants attended, representing the numerous fields and heard two very engaging speakers present.

We opened with Glenn Woo, an employee of Spectra Energy who spoke about his personal experience of rehabilitation and return to work after being involved in a horrific workplace explosion resulting in severe burns to his body. He has now been back at work for six weeks and is performing a desk job, which is foreign to him as he is used to being out on the field. Much of his talk focused on safety and the importance of prevention of workplace injury. All participants were held spellbound as he recounted his amazing story of healing and recovery and the support he has received from family, friends, co-workers and medical professionals. He is now on a gradual return-to-work program with the positive support from Spectra Energy so he can continue his therapy while carrying out the duties of his job.

Following Glenn’s talk, we had Kathleen Fleming, manager of Client Services for Mental Health Claims at WorkSafe BC. She discussed the changes to current legislation surrounding mental health claims, known as Bill 14. She explained that prior to June 2002, there was no mental stress wording in any legislation. The legislative change effective June 30th, defined mental stress as “an acute reaction to a sudden and unexpected traumatic event”. Bill 14 was introduced when this was challenged. The new legislation has been broadened to: “one or more traumatic events arising out of and in the course of the worker’s employment; or a significant work-related stressor, or a cumulative series of significant work-related stressors, arising out of and in the course of the worker’s employment”. She presented some interesting statistics about the claims she has received so far and the challenges of this evolving legislation as it plays out within the workplace.

At the end of the workshop, the participants were energized with new knowledge. Many participants commented that they appreciated the both perspectives on return to work. This comment sums it up well: “great workshop – informative and inspiring, lots of info to share at the workplace and with clients.”

Stay tuned for the next Candidly Speaking workshop…