Mike’s back on the job after a life-changing injury

Mike’s employers weren’t willing to let an injury sideline a valued employee, so they made adjustments to his role and responsibilities to keep him on board

In May 2022, after falling from an extension ladder on the jobsite, HVAC installer and safety coordinator Mike Lowe faced a long road to recovery. His broken ankle and shattered heel required several surgeries, and doctors felt he was unlikely to climb a ladder again.

Terry and Linda Codd, the owner/operators of Aries Airflo Heating and Air Conditioning, were by his side through all stages of his recovery and were always eager to help.

“Once we found out that this was a life-changing injury for Mike, we felt we needed to do everything we could to make his recovery the best it could possibly be,” recalls Terry. This included planning for Mike’s eventual return to work. “We knew we wanted Mike to come back and be with us for the long term, so we had to find new ways to harness his knowledge, skills and experience.”

While they’ve never had to deal with adjusting a role on this scale, Terry and Linda already had a list of duties their workers could safely perform in the event of an injury. This provided a starting point for them as they collaborated with Mike and his WCB case manager, Brandy.

“We can help employers establish a return-to-work plan that works for them and their business.” – Brandy, case manager, WCB-Alberta

“It’s important for an employer to have a plan in place,” says Brandy. “If an injury happens, they’re ready to put things into motion to help the worker return as soon as it’s safe to do so. Staying connected to a routine can make a big difference in a worker’s recovery.”

Aries Airflo found ways to help Mike stay connected during his recovery

Early on, Terry and Linda identified a few tasks Mike could take on to help support the company and continue offering his years of experience as an HVAC installer. While Mike recovered at home, they checked in regularly and set up an office for him on the ground floor of their building. Terry picked Mike up from his house to bring him into the shop to get reacquainted with his work and stay in touch with his coworkers.

“I’m a very routine-oriented person, so coming back to work gave me that routine again,” says Mike.

As the company’s safety coordinator, one of his first duties when he returned to work was to continue overseeing Aries Airflo’s safety program. In the months since, he’s been responsible for looking after the company’s vehicles and managing a large project in Nisku where he provides guidance and support for other members of his team.

“Being in the office has been an adjustment for me after being on the tools for 20 years. I’m glad I’m able to get out on site and stay connected to my original role as an installer,” says Mike. “Now, whatever anyone needs at the company, I’m able to do it for them.”

Positive attitudes made all the difference in return-to-work planning

In working with Mike and his employers, their case manager Brandy was most impressed by how prepared Terry and Linda were to get involved and implement a modified work plan. “Their positive attitudes really stood out for me. They were eager to work with Mike to develop a safe plan that was meaningful and kept him engaged.”

“We’re a relatively small company, and it feels like family,” says Linda. “At the end of the day, it’s our responsibility as business owners to support our employees and do what we can for them and their families in the event of an accident. It was never a question of if Mike was coming back, it was only a matter of when.”

Mike describes himself as a jack of all trades as he continues to learn new ways to support the company.

“It’s meant a lot to know Terry and Linda were looking out for me and were eager to keep me on board,” says Mike. “Now I’m able to go back to my job and continue as best I can in this new role. But I’m a little stubborn. I’d eventually like to be back on the tools full time.”

Two males and one female standing next to each other.

Thanks to a supportive employer and creative return-to-work planning, Mike’s back on the job at Aries Airflo Heating and Air Conditioning Ltd.

    Modified work allows injured workers to return to work at the earliest, safest opportunity and can aid in their overall recovery. A customized return-to-work plan may include reduced duties or hours, accommodations to the work environment, or doing tasks that would normally be completed by another team member.
    For employers, keeping a worker engaged while recovering from an injury can help manage claim costs, and best of all, these plans can be customized to match each unique situation.
Read more success stories