Ontario Federation of Labour launches prevention program for injured workers

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) will be launching a program that promotes a culture of safety and improved return-to-work outcomes throughout Ontario — Prevention Link.
This holistic and comprehensive disability prevention program supports the vision, goals, and priorities outlined in the chief prevention officer's strategic framework for building healthy and safe Ontario workplaces.

Building on the more than 25 years of success of the Occupational Disability Response Team (ODRT), Prevention Link will use the latest industry and sector data available to better understand the areas of greatest need to focus and direct its outreach and intervention efforts.

"Ontario's labour movement made it clear to the federation that secondary prevention services are crucial to ensuring safe and healthy workplaces for all workers," said OFL president, Chris Buckley. "It has been a diligent, collaborative and persistent effort to secure support for Prevention Link and we are proud to once again have a tangible disability prevention program at work."

There are approximately 5.3 million working Ontarians across 16 industries and each year thousands of those workers are injured on the job or die from work-related diseases. The most recent provincial statistics identify that in 2015, 212 fatality claims were attributed to workers who lost their lives due to an occupational disease. Additionally, there were 229,000 registered claims in Ontario for lost time due to a work-related injury or disease. The numbers are higher because official figures only capture those who received workers' compensation benefits. Hundreds more die from under-reported illnesses and occupational diseases that go unrecognized in the compensation system.

"It's a thrill to deliver a program that will place increased emphasis on the links between primary and secondary prevention of occupational injury, illness and disease in workplaces throughout the province," said Prevention Link executive director, Rob Halpin. "Through Prevention Link, Ontarians can be confident that the reputable and effective training and injury prevention resources we've long offered have been enhanced by the ODRT redesign."

With the support of Ontario's Ministry of Labour Prevention Office, Prevention Link has been improved to better represent its renewed 'secondary prevention' focus. It will build on the experience and success of a network of workplace-based volunteers to enhance primary and secondary prevention of workplace injury and illness. Initial prevention of injury and illness as well as preventing re-injury after return to work benefits both workers and employers.

While several external workshops featuring Prevention Link courses are already available, the program team will begin offering in-house disability response training, including six core certification courses and more than 20 topical courses this month.