Archive for category: Healthy Workplace


Returning to Work after Illness or Injury: OT Can Help

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

In 2011, Statistics Canada reported that 5.9% of full-time employees were absent from work due to illness or disability. The costs associated with workplace injuries are vast.  Studies have shown that the duration of work disability, as well as costs, are significantly reduced when the workplace has contact with a health care provider coordinating return to work interventions. In fact, well-designed return to work programs are now recognized as the best practice to reduce costs associated with worker’s compensation.

Occupational therapy is a cost-effective strategy to accelerate the client’s recovery and rate of returning to work. With an effective return to work plan coordinated by an occupational therapist, injured or ill employees can recover quicker and return to work faster, significantly reducing employer costs associated with workplace injuries.

In the following video from our OT-V series, we will discuss how occupational therapists can help to support the critical transition back to the workplace following an interruption of work duties due to physical or mental health issues.

For more information on promoting employee wellness in the workplace visit our Healthy Workplace blog page.


Dementia in the Workplace

Although dementia is most common in older adults, it can and does affect younger people.  The Alzheimer’s Society of Canada states that approximately 564,000 Canadians are currently living with dementia.  Of those affected, 16,000 are under the age of 65.  With an aging workforce in Canada, there is a greater possibility of dementia in the workplace which, without proper awareness, can lead to an unfamiliar situation for both employers and employees.  Take a look at the following article care of Workplace Strategies for Mental Health which provides information on awareness, recognition, risk management and supportive responses.

Workplace Strategies for Mental Health:  Dementia Response




Tips for a Healthier Dining Out Experience

Eating out for pleasure is always a treat, however, for the many who find dining out to be a large part of their work-life on a regular basis, restaurant dining can lose its appeal!  Although recently more restaurants have expanded menus to include healthier options, large portion sizes and high sodium levels can put the diners’ health at risk.

Learn some great tips on how to make healthier choices when dining out in the following article care of Forbes Magazine.

Forbes:  How To Eat Healthy In A Restaurant


O-Tip of the Week: Ways to Prevent Sitting Disease

Our O-Tip of the week series we will be providing valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living. 

This week’s O-Tip of the Week focuses on ways to get you moving throughout the day in order to keep a healthy lifestyle and prevent sitting disease.

Bring a pair of running shoes with you to work and take a walk on your lunch and/or breaks.  Walking is great for cardiovascular and bone health and will help to prevent the negative effects of sitting all day.

Learn more ways to combat the negative effects of sitting disease in our post, Solutions to Stop Sitting Disease.


Stand Up for Good Health

We’ve spoken a lot on our blog about the negative effects of our sedentary lifestyles and sitting disease.  Unfortunately, for many, our jobs require us to spend long hours at a desk, in front of a screen without much movement.  Making time for movement throughout the day is extremely important to help battle these negative effects.  Learn more about the benefits of building movement breaks into your day in the following from Participaction.

Participaction:  This is how standing up more often can change your entire workday


Mental Health at Work: How to Seek Help

While minor accidents are common in the workplace and quickly addressed, higher instances of stress, mental illness, and workplace bullying are being seen across all industries.  If you are suffering where do you go to get help?  If you see signs of mental distress in a fellow employee, how can you help?  The following from The Globe and Mail discusses how and where to seek help if you are concerned.

The Globe and Mail:  Where to get help when you’re concerned with your mental health

Learn more about strategies to improve mental health in the workplace in the following episode from our OT-V series:


Simple Stretches to Improve Health and Productivity

Humans are not made for immobility. Even if you take a healthy joint and put it in a cast for even a few days, when you remove this the movement of the joint will be decreased, pain will appear, and muscles that surround the joint will have started to atrophy. So, how does this translate to jobs that require us to sit all day, being immobile at a computer, in a car, or at a desk?

It’s important for your physical and mental health to involve frequent movement into your day.  Not only will this help you combat the negative effects of “sitting disease,” it can help you to become more productive.  Take a look at the following from Positive Health Wellness for some tips and simple stretches to incorporate into your work day.

Positive Health Wellness: 12 Quick Stretches to Boost Day-time Productivity

To learn more about Sitting Disease and how you can prevent the negative effects, take a look at our previous post, “Solutions To Stop Sitting Disease.


The Secrets to Successfully Managing Your Time

Time is precious.  As we all try to cram more into our days, weeks, and nights we are creating unsustainable expectations for ourselves and for those that rely on each of us to get stuff done.  Whether working on a specific project or working to keep home, family and career running smoothly, the tips in the following infographic “Secrets to Successfully Managing Your Time” can help you to stay organized, stay focused and get things done!



How To Improve Mental Health at Work

When it comes to health and safety in the workplace, we are often quick to think of work-related musculoskeletal disorders and other physical injuries, but just as with health in general, we also need to make mental health in the workplace a priority. Nearly half of all Canadians experience some form of mental health concerns at work. Mental health issues are the number one cause of short term and long term disability leave.

The following video from our OT-V series discusses the ways an Occupational Therapist can work with employees, employers and medical teams to help employees overcome mental health stressors at work in order to be more productive and miss less time from work.



Flexible Work Arrangements: No Longer Working “9 to 5”

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

Co-written by Occupational Therapy student Carolyn Rocca

I have several commutes.  If I bring my laptop home, one commute is to my dining room table.  If I leave my laptop at the office, I have a seven-minute drive (eight in traffic) before I am sitting at my desk.  If I am required to be in Toronto for 8:30am, my commute starts at 6:00am for a drive that in “good traffic” would only take me 50 minutes.

With more and more people living away from work so they can afford more sizable housing, more property, or even perhaps a desire or need to stay close to extended family and child care, Flexible Work Schedules are becoming more valued, and dare I say, necessary.

Flexible work schedules are arrangements that allow employees the opportunity to better juggle their family and personal responsibilities that typically conflict with the traditional Monday-to-Friday, 9-to-5 work week. These arrangements can take several forms, including: working a set number of hours with flexible and agreed upon start and end times, working longer days in exchange for a day off, or requesting time off for personal reasons and offering to make it up by working longer hours on another day.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2014 69% of couple families with at least one child were dual-earner families, representing quite an increase from 36% in 1976. As the number of dual-earner families continues to rise, the option of flexible work schedules will become increasingly enticing for such families who struggle to get their kids on the school bus in time for their lengthy commute. In 2012, an estimated 36% of Canadian employees with caregiving responsibilities had flexible hours, and this value will likely continue to rise. As they say, times have changed, and this seems to be a change for the better.

Canada’s 2012 General Social Survey reports that having a flexible schedule that allows employees to choose when their work day starts and ends was associated with slightly greater satisfaction. In fact, 79% of employees with a flexible work schedule reported that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their work–life balance, compared to 73% of those whose schedule was not flexible.

More specifically, studies that have explored the benefits of flexible work schedules for employees suggest that they improve overall work-life balance, reduce workplace stress and health-related symptoms, and increase job satisfaction and organizational commitment, ultimately maintaining their connection to the labor market. These advantages go both ways, as these arrangements benefit employers by enhancing recruitment and retention, reducing absenteeism, and increasing productivity, naturally leading to reduced costs.

So what does this shift towards flexible work options mean for you if you have a disability, and me as an occupational therapist?  If you need to return to work following injury or illness, an occupational therapist is well-equipped to help you and your employer devise workplace accommodations to gradually resume your full-time duties, and flexible hours makes this transition more feasible and likely to be successful.  For example, if sitting for long periods is challenging, but sitting is a necessary part of your job, then we don’t want your “sitting clock” to be “ticking” while you are stuck in traffic.  If flexible work hours can get you at your desk faster, allowing you more time to work and less time to aggravate your symptoms in the car, then a supportive employer should see the benefit of that – for you and them.  Also, if as part of your recovery you continue to require medical oversight or treatment by other providers, a flexible work schedule will allow you the freedom to maintain your treatment schedule, while still gradually resuming job duties.

If flexible work hours can benefit both employer and employee, both within and outside of a rehabilitation process, then I say “just ask for it”….and work with your employer to develop a program and schedule that works for both of you.