employee injured on job - light duty for how long?

ONe of our employees who drives a delivery truck injured his back on the job. He is being treated by a physical therapist and being seen by the company Dr. He has been placed on light duty, still driving the truck, but with another employee helping him, lifting, etc. What should we do with this employee? We don't want to break any laws. How long should we keep him on light duty? Should we have him go on Disability instead? If he has a back injury, should he be allowed to continue working in his same job when he is better? Should we try to find something else in the company that he can do?


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  • Some of your questions are going to depend on your state law.  What state are you located in?

    To answer some of your questions, I would not put the person on disability.  That would just increase your lost work days for your OSHA log.  You want as few of those as possible.  In my opinion, the sooner you can get someone back to work (even on light duty) the better off they are and you are.  If you have a job description I would give it to the doctor and have the doctor decide what the course of action is going to be.  Although you don't want someone on light duty for a long period of time, it is the better alternative then disability and lost work days.  It is possible that a back injury can heal itself and he can continue doing his job as before. 

  • Please ensure that you find out what his restrictions are from the Dr. and follow them to the "T".  I agree, do not put him/her on disability but when every you have a chance try and write a "Return To Work"  agreement with the member indicting that the company will do what is ever necessay to assist the injured member back to full duty as long as he/she will comply with all the nessary processes.  
  • I recall reading a study linking back pain to absence.  If I recall correctly, getting the person back to work too quickly was likely to result in re-injury, which also isn't good for your OSHA log.  Shouldn't this be driven by sound medical evaluation?  What does the company doctor think?
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