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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on July 19, 2000. All rights
Light Duty? Or Watching Soaps: Corporate Health Center
Your loading dock worker has a back injury and can’t
be on the job. He’s going for therapy daily and getting workers
but the rest of the time he’s glued to the tube at his home, watching
ESPN and goodness knows what. You don’t want your workers compensation
premiums to rise astronomically, and you are short-handed in general.
So you look for alternatives.
If an employee is on workers compensation for a job-related injury,
"light duty" or "transitional duty" may be an option,
says Joe Whitty, marketing supervisor at the Corporate Health
Center, associated with the Capital Health System on Brunswick Avenue
in Trenton. Such "in-between" work is usually less physically
onerous than the person’s regular job. Maybe the regular job involves
standing at copy machines and walking down corridors to deliver mail.
The transitional job might be sitting down to stuff envelopes or
"If your work environment would allow you to go back to your
work duties, with no heavy lifting, not necessarily your normal
but still being productive, then you are a candidate for transitional
duty," says Whitty. He has organized a breakfast seminar on
duty on Tuesday, July 25, at 8:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. at 832 Brunswick
Avenue, Trenton. Free by registration. Call 609-695-7471.
The program is for business owners, human resources personnel, claims
or safety managers, those who deal with workers’ compensation case
managers, and occupational health nurses. Michael J. Makowsky MD,
medical director of the corporate health center, will moderate a panel
that includes Elizabeth Schneider RN, director of medical services
of New Jersey Transit, representing the employers; Janice Pesco,
director of corporate rehabilitation, representing the therapy
and Edward H. Herman of Hill Wallack, representing the legal
Not every workplace can accommodate transitional duty, and often union
policies are the deciding factors. In the prison systems, for
prison guards are not good candidates for light duty. The requirements
for that job are full responsibilities or nothing, says Whitty.
One major caveat: Be careful that temporary work assignments don’t
become permanent work assignments. Workers can get too comfy watching
TV at home, but at least they aren’t earning their full salaries at
home. Start paying someone full salary for an easy job and you’d
make sure they are well aware that this good deal is only temporary.
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