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June 9, 2020 8:43 AM

Researcher leads development of first standard for work disability management systems

Conestoga researcher Dr. Amin Yazdani, director of Conestoga’s Canadian Institute of Safety, Wellness & Performance, led the research behind a new national standard on work disability management systems.

Conestoga College - Amin Yazdani - SCC 2018.jpg
Conestoga's Dr. Amin Yazdani led the research behind a new national standard on work disability management systems.

Until now, no national or international standard was available to assist Canadian employers in achieving excellence in their work disability management systems — a human resources and occupational health and safety issue relevant to all organizations in all sectors of the economy.

According to Statistics Canada, an estimated 20 per cent of adults in Canada have a disability and the associated costs take a staggering toll on workers and their families, as well as on employers and taxpayers.

Known as CSA Z1011, the Workplace Disability Management System standard has been released by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA Group) and offers guidelines to help organizations in the hiring, onboarding, retention, management and return to work of people with occupational and non-occupational disabilities. Its guidelines can be adopted by organizations of any size and in any sector.

"How do you hire and retain a person with a disability? If a person gets injured on the job how do you go about bringing that person back to work? How do you build capacity to support your workforce through the employment cycle from hiring and onboarding to advancement and eventually departure from employment? It’s a complex issue involving many parties,” explained Yazdani. “It’s a problem employers face, but there’s never been a harmonized or standardized solution."

Yazdani’s initial interest in this area of research started during a summer CIHR-funded program he attended in 2013 as a PhD student. Although literature and interventions existed on the topic, nothing had been translated into a language that could be useful for business.

Over the years, he persistently pursued the idea of creating an evidence-based Canadian standard on workplace disability management systems — a standard that would serve as a comprehensive model on work disability issues. This work is an example of when innovation is made possible with a collaborative multidisciplinary approach that could result not only in protecting the health, safety, and wellbeing of our workforce, but will help businesses thrive in a competitive economy,” added Yazdani.

Yazdani said the standard has already been well received by several large Canadian businesses interested in implementing it and the CISWP will partner with several organizations to host a series of webinars to promote the standard and support businesses and other stakeholders as they implement it.

"Seeing this finished is so rewarding. I worked with many people in the past several years on several important initiatives, but this one was very special to me. It’s something I started when I was a PhD student and seven years later it’s a full product. The work is not going to stop here - the standard will be reviewed periodically at least every five years so we can continually review the evidence and additional data as it becomes available.”

For more information about the standard, contact Dr. Amin Yazdani.

The Canadian Institute for Safety, Wellness & Performance, located within Conestoga’s School of Business, works to improve the safety, wellness and performance of the Canadian labour force by generating knowledge, transferring research to practice, and strengthening workforce development — all in collaboration with stakeholders.

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