When you have an injury that isn’t severe, your doctor might tell you that you can still go to work but only under light-duty work restrictions. This can be confusing for some employees, especially if your job is physical.
To not further injure yourself, however, your employer must be clear on what your doctor is ordering when he/she prescribes light-duty work. Ask your doctor to provide specific details to your employer regarding expectations.
Light duty work procedures may vary from one employer to another, but there are few elements to light-duty work restrictions that they should all share in common.
What Is Light Duty Work?
Light duty work is any task or job that is less physically demanding than your general job requirements. Light duty work restrictions are often effective at reducing the healing time needed for overuse injuries.
Employees who are cleared for light-duty work and offered the opportunity to work with restrictions must comply or risk losing their position and benefits. However, employers are not obligated to offer light-duty job assignments or provide accommodations unless the injury has resulted in a permanent disability.
Instead, employers can choose to keep the employee off work, who can then file a workers' compensation or short-term disability claim, or access their Family and Medical Leave Act benefits, where applicable.
Light duty work is a temporary assignment to different duties or tasks until your injuries are healed, and your doctor clears you for your regular job tasks.
Sedentary restrictions involve having tasks that keep you seated for most of the day, such as desk work with limited movement and only lifting up to 10 pounds.
Light work usually means no lifting of objects over 20 pounds and no carrying objects weighing more than 10 pounds. One-handed restrictions might also be ordered, which means that you are limited to tasks that can be completed with one hand.
Keeping Employees Safe and Injury-Free
A company’s employee safety score can have a significant impact on a business’s reputation.
Employees who are getting injured from overuse and accidents can not only cost a company in worker’s compensation claims and even possible lawsuits, but also reduce productivity levels, wasting time and money.
Employers might also be hard-pressed to find tasks and jobs for employees that are considered light duty if that employee hasn’t been trained in other areas of the business.
The best way to keep employees from needing light duty work restrictions and job modifications is to prevent workplace injuries.
Proper Training Is Essential
All employees should receive training at orientation on the proper techniques for lifting, carrying, and repetitive motions. Employers should encourage and allow breaks for stretching and walking, as well as providing the proper equipment and safety gear to prevent injuries. This gear can range from ergonomically designed desks, chairs, and keyboards, to hard hats, bump caps, carts and hoists.
Protect the Bottom Line
Workplace injuries have a huge impact on your bottom line. Keep your company operating at maximum capacity without restrictions by ensuring your team members stay fit and healthy on the job. Partnering with Work-Fit, a leader in applying sports medicine knowledge and techniques to work environments, is a great way to prevent injuries and increase profits.