Pet-therapy for mental injury?

Dear Blue Collar,

One of our injured workers brings his pet to the office as part of a modified work arrangement. The man in question is presently on WCB for PTSD caused by a confrontation with his supervisor. He reluctantly agreed to recover at work, but only on condition that his pet ferret join him.

I was stunned by the ultimatum, but we gave it a shot. Things were fine at first, but soon others began complaining about exotic noises and foul odors. Worse yet, the animal escaped and terrorized numerous staff members at one point. What now?

(A) Animal-therapy is trending, but admittedly this marks my first encounter with ferret therapy. Indeed employers have a duty to reasonably accommodate disability in the workplace per WCB and human rights legislation — that is, to a point of undue hardship. In your case, permitting an animal on the property to soothe one person’s nerves is causing an equal and opposite reaction among others.

The escapee ferret is a demonstrable safety risk, could trigger serious allergies, and is clearly a major distraction. Moreover, WCB would most certainly object to the ferret being used as a bargaining chip. My suggestion is to put the ferret on notice while considering other means of job accommodation.

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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