Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2024;50(3):208-217    pdf full text

https://doi.org/10.5271/sjweh.4149 | Published online: 06 Mar 2024, Issue date: 01 Apr 2024

The adequacy of workplace accommodation and the incidence of permanent employment separations after a disabling work injury or illness

by Mustard CA, Orchard C, Dobson KG, Carnide N, Smith PM

Objective This study aimed to estimate the influence of the adequacy of employer accommodations of health impairments in predicting permanent separation from the employment relationship in a cohort of workers disabled by a work-related injury or illness.

Methods The study used data from a retrospective, observational cohort of 1793 Ontario workers who participated in an interviewer-administered survey 18 months following a disabling injury or illness. The relative risks (RR) of a permanent employment separation associated with inadequate employer accommodations were estimated using inverse probability of treatment weights to reduce confounding.

Results Over the 18-month follow-up, the incidence of permanent separation was 30.1/100, with 49.2% of separations related to health status. Approximately 51% of participants experiencing a separation were exposed to inadequate workplace accommodations, compared to 27% of participants in continuing employment. The propensity score adjusted RR of a health-related separation associated with inadequate accommodation was substantial [RR 2.72; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.20–3.73], greater than the RR of separations not related to health (RR 1.68; 95% CI 1.38–2.21).

Conclusions Incidence of permanent separation in this cohort of Ontario labor force participants was approximately two times more frequent than would be expected. The adequacy of employer accommodation was a strong determinant of the risk of permanent separation. These findings emphasize the potential for strengthened workplace accommodation practices in this setting.

This article refers to the following texts of the Journal: 2016;42(4):273-279  2017;43(5):447-456  2019;45(4):346-355  2021;47(6):435-445
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