Light Duty

So, let’s consider a hypothetical situation: You have survived your workplace injury, and your doctor says you can go back to work. Doctor: “Just don’t lift too much; you know, take it easy.” You: “Yes, sir, Doc. I certainly want to heal as quickly as possible and want to avoid re-injuring myself. Say, could you give me some specific work restrictions? You know, how much I should lift and all that?” Doctor: “Sure thing. Let’s see, ‘No repetitive bending or twisting, and no lifting over 25 lbs.’ How’s that?” You: “Sounds good. Now Doctor, are these restrictions due to my workplace injury?” Doctor: “Of course, you were working and lifting just fine before you got hurt at work.” You: “Think you could put that in writing for me? I need to give a copy to my boss at work.” Doctor: “For sure, for sure. Here you go, my savvy patient!” Then, you give a copy to your boss and the clerk in the Human Resources office. And smartly you keep a copy for yourself. Why get specific, written work restrictions? Because work comp benefits depend on whether you can RTW – that’s return to work. If your boss cannot have you RTWwithin your restrictions–meaning if the only work available is lifting > 25 lbs–then the boss should say, “Sorry, we have no work within those restrictions,” and you go home to recuperate. On the other hand, if your boss says, “Sure, lift these 20-lb boxes; we have plenty of ‘light duty’ work available,” then you show up and do the light duty work. Pretty slick! If doing the light-duty work aggravates your medical condition, then you return to the doctor to get updated restrictions, which you then provide to your boss. (Note: This blog is not a substitute for personalized legal advice. Contact an attorney for specific advice for your situation.)

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