Navigating the WCB maze

Dear Blue Collar,

I’m in way over my head. A worker injured himself and I’ve been told to “whip up” a modified work plan. I’m in HR and have no medical background, the worker’s gone AWOL, and management’s pressuring me. Am I really qualified to do this? Help!

(A) First off, go easy on yourself. Navigating the WCB maze has never been more complex, so it’s natural to feel out of your depth.

Now, based on the “whip up” remark, I’ll assume your company lacks a modified work policy. And given the worker’s hostility, it seems he’s unaware of his duties — and yours — as per WCB legislation. So you’re in a tough spot.

My suggestion is to meet with the worker asap. Have him bring along the Fitness-for-Work form that his doctor should have completed. Unfortunately many health care providers neglect this step, but regardless, the onus is on the employee to prove he’s unfit for work.

Absent medical proof of total disability, a gradual return to work should begin post-haste. This may include a modification of the pre-accident position, alternate duties, etc. Assuming your accommodations are reasonable and respectful of medical restrictions, he must accept the modified-work offer.

And lastly, the Job Accommodation Network ( is useful for mapping out a safe return-to-work plan. Or, alternately, reach out to Blue Collar for a free consultation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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About Me

Ben Barfett, Principal and Consultant, has spent his life in the construction sector, specifically heavy civil, enviro, commercial, and energy. Having held senior roles in business development, technical advisory, and regional management, he earned his stripes in the field and in head office. Conscious of the interplay between commercial, legal, and execution aspects of construction, his business insights are informed by expertise in WCB policy and enhanced with disability-specific training. 

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Blue Collar Consulting

Blue Collar Consulting is a WCB and disability management firm. The company specializes in rapid and affordable disability solutions that advance current claims, contain the cost of future claims, and get injured workers back on their feet. 

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