The objective of this study was to gain an understanding of workers' experiences with returning to work, the challenges they experienced, and the supports they found most beneficial when returning to work after a workplace electrical injury. Thirteen semistructured qualitative telephone interviews were conducted with individuals who experienced an electrical injury at the workplace. Participants were recruited from specialized burns rehabilitation programs in Ontario, Canada. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and thematic analysis used to analyze the qualitative interviews. Data regarding workers' demographics, injury events, and occupational categories were also gathered to characterize the sample. Participants identified three distinct categories of challenges: 1) physical, cognitive, and psychosocial impairments and their effects on their work performance; 2) feelings of guilt, blame, and responsibility for the injury; and 3) having to return to the workplace or worksite where the injury took place. The most beneficial supports identified by the injured workers included: 1) support from family, friends, and coworkers; and 2) the receipt of rehabilitation services specialized in electrical injury. The most common advice to others after electrical injuries included: 1) avoiding electrical injury; 2) feeling ready to return to work; 3) filing a Workplace Safety and Insurance Board injury/claims report; 4) proactive self-advocacy; and 5) garnering the assistance of individuals who understood electrical injuries to advocate on their behalf. Immediate and persistent physical, cognitive, psychosocial, and support factors can affect individuals' abilities to successfully return to work after an electrical injury. Specialized services and advocacy were viewed as beneficial to successful return to work.
Journal of Burn Care and Research, 2014, Vol 35, Issue 6, p. 498-507