Safety at home for injured workers

Photo credit: marcovdz on Flickr

After a workplace injury, the most basic activities can be a challenge – things like getting in and out of the house, using the bathroom, and going from room to room.

But many of these challenges can be overcome, thanks to occupational therapists like Kathy Pringle – an expert in helping injured workers to adapt their homes for safety and functionality.

Kathy is an Ontario-based occupational therapist with a diploma in architectural technology and she teaches at the School of Rehabilitation Therapy at Queen’s University. She also advises building designers, interior designers, family members, and others who work with people living with mobility issues.

She’s coming to BC to lead a seminar – Assessing and Implementing Home Modifications for the Injured Worker – which I read about on the WorkSafeBC website. I gave her a call to find out more.

How do occupational therapists help injured workers?

OTs visit the home, assess its safety, and report on what’s needed. Each situation is different and much depends on the the nature of the injury – if it’s temporary (like a broken leg) or more permanent.

“They look at the entrance to a home. If a person can’t climb the stairs – or has trouble with the stairs – how can that be made safer? Do they need a ramp or a lift?” Kathy explained. “The bathroom is another big one. We see if they can get to it so they can bathe and use the toilet.”

OTs also look at safe mobility for injured workers within the home.

“We see if they can get to the rooms they need to go to for living and whether there are threshholds or things where they might trip or fall or just can’t manage because they’re using a wheel chair,” Kathy said.

The one-day seminar for OTs – sponsored by WorkSafeBC’s Health Care Services department – is on February 25, 2011, at the WorkSafeBC auditorium in Richmond. Kathy said she will be bringing lots of books, products, and other resources for modifying homes.

Thanks so much to Kathy and everyone else who helps improve quality of life for people living with injuries.


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