A work-related injury or illness affects not only the worker but also the family on whom they rely for support. The social, emotional, financial and health toll on households is frequently substantial: lower income or poverty, changed family dynamics, physical strains from caregiving, stress from helping negotiate adversarial compensation and inadequate rehabilitation regimes…
“I have run out of LTD and welfare won’t touch me because I have a pending Tribunal case … I have lost my house and my family and have no source of income. It is only because of the generosity of my mother and friends that I have food to eat …” Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups. 2012. “Many Losses, Much Hardship: The Impact of Work Injury” (ONIWG Poverty Survey)
An important new Australian study aims to increase our understanding of the very real consequences, particularly in cases of chronic or complex injuries or illnesses, for the daily life, relationships and well-being of the worker’s family: “Family Matters: Compensable Injury and the Effect on Family” (Disability and rehabilitation, 2017 Feb. 10 ), by Agnieszka Kosny (Institute for Work & Health, Toronto) with Sharon Newnam and Alex Collie (Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research, Melbourne). The authors argue compensation authorities should assess the needs of injured workers and families at regular intervals, and explicitly offer support when needed.
Injured Workers Consultant’s John McKinnon comments: “In the legal clinics, we often see the important role played by family members assisting someone with a permanent disability. And we see the consequences when there is no family to help out, or when family ties break down under the strain of the new responsibilities. This study documents the impact of compensable injury on the family and the role that families play after an injury, throughout the compensation process, and during return to work. Given the important contribution that family members make to recovery and rehabilitation, Dr. Kosny’s recommendation to compensation authorities makes sense: the WSIB should support the role of family in the recovery from injury as a conduit for improving health and function among injured people.”
- Operation Maple. The Way We Get By: The Story of Wes & Kim. (Youtube video traces daily decisions an Ontario construction worker and his wife are forced to make when his workplace accident left them with poverty and pain)
- Mojtehedzadeh, Sara. 2016 Feb. 19. “Anxiety. Depression. Bankruptcy. One family’s battle with workplace injury.” Toronto Star
- Fox, Nick. 2016 Feb. “Workplace Injuries Affect Families for Years.” Lifelines Online, v. 12(9) (Discussion of two U.S. government reports examining the emotional, health and financial toll on injured workers and their families)
- Maher, JaneMaree, Jo Lindsay & Claire Tanner. 2015. “Mothers Caring Through Injury: How Can We Understand the Dual Burden Of Caregivers’ Recovery?” Journal of Family Studies, v. 21(1): 72-86
- Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. 2015. For Families: Resource Guide. Toronto: WSIB.
- Wong, Imelda S. et al. 2014 Aug. “Work-injury Absence and Compensation Among Partnered and Lone Mothers and Fathers.” American Journal of Industrial Medicine, v. 57(8): 960-969
- Tompa, Emile et al. 2009 May. Does Permanent Impairment from a Workplace Accident Increase the Risk of Marital Breakup? Toronto: Institute of Work & Health (presentation to RAACWI Symposium, Toronto, May 2009)
- Strunin, Lee & Les I. Boden. 2004 May. “Family Consequences of Chronic Back Pain.” Social Science & Medicine, v.58: 1385-93