Handle With Care - Getting Employees Back to Work Quickly and Safely
Before an injured employee can return, he or she often needs rehabilitation to regain strength or learn how to function with a disability. Therapy teaches employees ways to work without re-injury or repeat illness (e.g. proper lifting or stress management techniques). Since medical professionals determine when an employee is able to resume working, it's essential to consult with the doctor to find out whether the employee can return to their regular job function or needs an alternate duty.
Explaining Alternate DutyAlternate duty is a transitional phase for a worker recovering from a job-related injury or illness. It's a way to ease the employee back into work routines without causing further harm. Alternate duty gives the employee the chance to make a meaningful and productive contribution during the transitional phase. Alternate duty also helps bridge the gap for the employee between being out of work and resuming regular job duties.
The employee's physician will monitor performance during this period to prevent overtaxing, re-injury, or repeated illness. The physician will tell you when the employee can go back to his or her regular job. When there is no appropriate alternate duty job, the employee may be treated solely at an off-site rehabilitation center.
Packaging Alternate Duty OptionsBoxes come in all shapes, sizes and durability and so should alternate duties. Here are some alternate options to ensure employees are handling with care.
- Assign less strenuous or stressful parts of the employees normal job
- Have normal job duties performed on a part-time basis or slower rate to accommodate the employees recovery
- Conduct in classroom training meetings, instead of on your shop floor; employees can learn valuable safety training lessons from real mistakes and OSHA accident case studies
- Combine the less strenuous or stressful parts of several different jobs to create one full-time job for the recovering employee; this could free up other workers to take on special projects or catch up with work that is falling behind
- Assign a special project without a tight deadline to a recovering employee; you probably have several projects that you'd like to get done, but no one seems to have the time to do them
- Work in conjunction with not-for-profit organizations to keep the employee engaged with light work duties while making a notable contribution to the community
Source: Safety Advisor
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