Presentation M O34

M O34 (Oral Presentation):
Workplace practices in return to work employees with musculoskeletal disorders

Presented by: Iuliana Nastasia

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Nastasia I1, Durand M-J2, Coutu M-F2, Collinge C1, Cibotaru A1

  1. Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail, Montreal, Canada
  2. Université de Sherbrooke, Longueuil, Canada



Return to work (RTW) is a complex process, involving many stakeholders and implying several activities. Even though the importance of the workplace politics to achieve safe and sustainable RTW is generally recognised, little research has been done to document the practices of the workplace. The objective of this paper is to document the practices to RTW employees with work related musculoskeletal disabilities (WRMDs) in Quebec.


Multiple case study combine data from different sources (literature, companies’ documents, and interviews with the workplaces’ actors). A systematic search in seven scientific bases allows selecting 37 articles and identifying effective components in different workplace contexts. The formal and informal procedures of five participant enterprises were documented in order to compare the sequences of actions prescribed with the literature’s recommendations. From interviews with the 35 key actors involved in the RTW process, we document how the companies’ procedures are in fact applied in practice.


Six strategic components were identified from the literature as effective in workplace settings: early contact and intervention to foster concerted action, collaboration between actors involved in the process, centralized coordination, adequacy between the job demands and the temporary or permanent restrictions, progressive return to work, active participation of the worker in the entire process of the return to work, follow-up. Some of these components are set by the formal procedures of the participant enterprises. The various sequences of actions are however differently applied. Even though the workplace context (activity sector, size of the company, unionised work, etc.) plays an important role in the RTW, the successful practices present some common characteristics related to the attitudes and knowledge of the actors involved in the process (supervisor, human resource counselor, colleague, and worker).


The preliminary analysis let us to presume that the application of procedures in the workplace depends on the actors’ mobilisation around a common goal . Strengthening positive attitudes and improve knowledge on how adequately match job demands with worker’s capabilities may result in willpower the managers to really support the sustainable RTW.

Schedule Details

Monday September 29
15:45 - 17:15 Afternoon Concurrent Sessions (M O25 - M O37 and Seminar 3)
Session: Return to work process
Room B