Return-to-Work Programs a Priority; Steelworkers Endorse Resolution

TORONTO, April 13, 2016 /CNW/ - Return-to-work and disability-prevention programs are a Steelworkers priority with all 700 delegates to the United Steelworkers National Policy Conference in Montreal endorsing a policy resolution on the subject.

United Steelworkers (USW) members approved a resolution calling on the union to "recognize and support the value in pursuing meaningful, effective, confidential and joint workplace Return-to-Work/Disability Prevention Programs," including full and equal participation by the union, the injured worker and medical caregivers during the return-to-work process with employers.

"We have an obligation to ensure that our members, who are at risk of unemployment due to a disabling impairment, are taken care of," said Ken Neumann, USW National Director.

Around the world every day, 6,300 workers die from a work-related accident or disease (International Labour Organization, 2014) with about 1,000 annual Canadian workplace fatalities as part of this tragic international statistic.

Across Canada, worker compensation boards in 2014 recorded 239,462 lost-time accidents, which represent only 30% of all disabling injuries and illnesses suffered annually by Canadian workers.

The number of Canadian workers who die annually through occupational injuries or diseases doesn't reflect the fact that for every worker who dies, on average 30 workers suffer permanent physical or mental impairments, often lose their employment and many times are pushed to the margins of society.

Fewer than half of all Canadians with disabilities are employed, compared to 80% of the general population, and those on a social security program receive between 22-30% of the average net income for all employed Canadians.

"While effective health and safety programs have always been key priorities for our union, it is unacceptable in today's society that workers should suffer marginalization and poverty when effective, joint return-to-work programs at the workplace could ensure their continued employment," said Neumann.

This USW resolution is a significant policy decision that formally recognizes the importance of return-to-work disability-prevention programs as a strategic priority.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information: Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951; Nancy Hutchison, USW Health, Safety and Environment, 416-544-6001,; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221,


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