Routine functions key to evaluating work restrictions

Date Posted: 02/14/2022
Work Restrictions

If an employee gets hurt and is given restrictions, the employee’s work might not actually be restricted. If that sounds crazy, remember that an injury must limit the employee’s routine job functions to count as a restricted work case on the 300 Log.

Routine functions are activities the employee performs at least once per week, so a restriction might not affect those functions. For example, if an employee is restricted from lifting more than 20 pounds, but the job does not require lifting that much (or only requires that twice per month), then the restriction does not affect the routine job functions.

The doctor says...

Generally, a doctor should describe restrictions rather than declaring that an employee “cannot work.” You can provide a job description and ask the doctor to make recommendations regarding specific duties, but only you know whether those duties are routine functions.

For example, the doctor might tell an employee to avoid using his left arm for a week. Based on that, you decide whether the employee can perform all routine job functions without violating that restriction. If the employee can still perform all duties, the injury is not a restricted work case, even though the doctor-imposed limitations.

Employee and employer choices

Only you (the employer) or a health care professional can affect whether a case must be recorded as restricted work. An employee’s choices do not affect the case. For example:

  • If a doctor recommends restrictions that you can accommodate, but the employee chooses to stay home, you may record the days as restricted work rather than lost days.
  • If a doctor recommends restrictions that limit the routine functions, but the employee does his regular tasks anyway, you must still record the days as restricted work.

Restrictions are usually imposed by a health care professional, but employers may impose restrictions as well. For example, if you prevent an injured employee from performing a routine function, you must record the injury as a restricted work case. Restrictions imposed by the employer are still restrictions. Along the same lines, if you cannot accommodate the restrictions and you send the employee home, you must record the time as days away.

However, if an employee reports minor musculoskeletal discomfort (but no injury occurred), you could restrict the worker’s duties as a precaution without creating a restricted work case. In this example, there is no underlying injury. A change in job duties cannot make an case recordable if there is no actual injury.

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How Safety Management Suite Can Help

Evaluating whether an injury is recordable on the 300 Log isn’t easy, but is critical to maintaining an accurate 300 Log. The J. J. Keller® SAFETY MANAGEMENT SUITE Incident Center helps you list all injuries and easily update the entries if conditions change, such as a medical case becoming a restricted work case. You can also sort the data to identify trends, such as repeated cases resulting in specific types of injuries.

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