Buddies in bad times? The role of co-workers after a work-related injury

Agnieszka Kosny, Marni Lifshen, Diana Pugliese, Gary Majesky, Desre Kramer, Ivan Steenstra, Sophie Soklaridis, Christine Carrasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction: Co-workers can play an important role after a work-related injury. They can provide details about the circumstances of an accident, offer emotional support to the injured worker and help with job tasks upon a co-worker's return to work (RTW). Working with an injured co-worker, however, can also strain work relationships and increase workload. The purpose of this study was to determine the role that co-workers play after a work-related injury and during the RTW process in the unionized, electrical construction sector.

Methods: We conducted two focus groups with injured electricians and union representatives. We also interviewed co-workers who had worked with someone who had been injured in the course of employment. We examined the role that co-workers can play after a work-related injury and some of the factors facilitating and hindering co-worker support.

Results: The structure of work in the electrical sector-a focus on cost-cutting and competition, job insecurity, perceptions of "different camps" among co-workers, little modified work and poor formal communication-can impede co-worker support and contribute to making injured workers' experiences difficult. Management can play an important role in setting an example for how injured workers are regarded and treated.

Conclusions: Future research should explore how workers can better be supported after a work-related injury and during the RTW process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-449
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • work-related injury
  • co-workers


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