Work Disability Prevention Management System:
A proposal for a national standard to Canadian Standard Association (CSA) 

The annual cost of work disability is estimated at between $1-2 trillion worldwide. In Canada alone this is estimated to be more than $30 billion. Every year, tens of thousands of Canadians become disabled and are unable to work, thereby becoming excluded from the many benefits of workforce participation. Reducing work disability is best achieved by targeting the social, insurance, workplace, and individual barriers to return-to-work (RTW) and workforce participation, rather than excessively medicalizing the problem.

There exist effective and cost-effective strategies to reduce work disability, including workplace interventions (such as work accommodation) and RTW coordination. Integrating work disability prevention into an organization’s management system has the potential to substantially reduce work disability. However, organizations need assistance with how to identify this knowledge and incorporate it into their operations. Translating best current practices to a more standard language is an invaluable way to facilitate the adoption of these practices.

Given that organizations struggle to identify how to address work disability, there is a need for a national standard based on best practice models for the management of work disability prevention. The proposed Canadian Standard aims to specify requirements for a Work Disability Prevention Management System (WDPMS). The Standard will integrate best current research evidence and the viewpoints and successful practices of multiple stakeholders: employers, workers and worker representatives, clinicians, workers compensation authorities, insurance companies, policy makers, and researchers.

The proposed standard would help organizations implement a management system for Work Disability Prevention. In turn, such a system would be used by organizations to systematically manage their work disability related prevention activities, and ultimately address issues of absenteeism and presenteeism linked to injury, illness and disability. A standard in this area could help to create better, safer, more sustainable workplaces and lessen productivity costs associated with work disability.

The standard would be designed to integrate with other related management system frameworks such as: CSA’s Z1000 (Occupational Health and Safety Management System), CSA Z1003 (Psychological Health and Safety), CSA Z1004 (Workplace Ergonomics). In addition, the framework will have the potential to be incorporated into other aspects of an organization’s management structure, resulting in better recognition by an organization of the different stakeholders in the work disability system. The standard would be applicable to any organization regardless of size and industry.

The process of CSA standard development requires the involvement of multiple stakeholders in the arena of WDP. Therefore, a multidisciplinary technical committee will be formed to develop this management system standard.

For more information please contact Amin Yazdani at