Back to work at the bank
Managing the Occupational Health Services (OHS) Department for the Bank of Montreal has Mary Ann Kaczmarek drawing constantly from her occupational therapy knowledge and experience. When trying to return people to work and function, Mary Ann looks at the whole interactive picture: how the workplace affects the illness or injury and vice versa — how the employee’s illness and injury affects the workplace. “I want to ensure that people get the help they need to return to productivity and function in a quick and safe manner,” explains Mary Ann.
Occupational Health Services deals with employees across Canada. Once the employee has been off work for longer than five days, he submits a disability work evaluation form to OHS. OHS staff use this information to better understand why the person is off work and to make recommendations to help him return to work.
Mary Ann also uses occupational therapists for ergonomic and other assessments. “I had a call from a branch that had recently bought new furniture and their employees were asking for additional modifications to the furniture,” explains Mary Ann. “The manager was wondering if this was really necessary so we arranged for an occupational therapist to do a quick assessment of the situation.” Sometimes the solution is not additional and costly modifications but rather employee education regarding proper body mechanics and positioning at their workstation.
Bank positions such as a teller are low physical risk occupations; thus the rate of injuries is low compared to other workplaces. OHS staff deal with both occupational and non-occupational illness/injury. Common work-related conditions that they see are those resulting from repetitive strain, slips and falls, and even bank robberies. With robberies, employees receive post incident counselling, however, if they do miss work it is usually due to post-traumatic stress. Other common reasons for absences from work are musculoskeletal conditions, stress, anxiety and depression that are often not work-related.
Mary Ann’s occupational therapy experience of critically assessing situations, looking at alternatives for the employee and within the work place and coming up with effective and sustainable solutions is invaluable in her job with the Bank of Montreal. Each and every day OHS saves her company money by decreasing sick time and helping employees get back to work. — Vanessa Ong
For more information, contact Mary Ann Kaczmarek at email@example.com
This article first appeared in the September/ October 2002 issue of Occupational Therapy Now magazine published by the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists.
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