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With the various ailments employees bring to the jobsite, it makes sense to avoid assigning someone work in an area or position where pre- existing medical conditions could be compromised.

ployees on the job for specific tasks. One such tool is the use of site supervision (foremen or lead people) to help assign work. Tese individuals work closely with the tradesper- son and are oſten taking into consideration an individual’s knowledge, skills and abilities when making work assignments. Addition- ally, because they work so closely with the craſtspeople, they get to know them quite well and may be making work assignments based on limitations shared with them in confi- dence by the employee. For example, it is not uncommon for an employee who has just returned from work to tell his foreman that he or she is suffering from a shoulder injury and cannot climb ladders. So, the foreman assigns that individual to the “tool crib,” a designated area where tools are kept or to a location where climbing ladders is not required as part of that person’s job duties. Te danger in these situations is that while they lead individuals to work closely with the tradespeople perform- ing the work and are best suited for matching the skills of the worker to the job, they are oſten put in a position of assigning work to people with performance limitations, having no medical background to help them under- stand the liabilities involved. Additionally, the foreman may be the only one aware of an employee’s personal situation and that is oſten not communicated beyond that litle circle. Consequently, if that individual is moved to a different crew without the accommodation communicated, they could inadvertently be assigned work that puts them at risk. With the various ailments employees


bring to the jobsite, it makes sense to avoid assigning someone work in an area or posi- tion where pre-existing medical conditions could be compromised. Unfortunately, employers and ultimately the supervisors in the field, who are making the work assign- ments, may have no knowledge of these conditions and can very easily unknowingly put someone in a dangerous position. Fol-

10 datia focus

hese are not new challenges to con- struction employers and they have many tools to match the best em-

lowing a Fit for Duty program transfers the decision-making and communication issues from a foreman/lead person to a trained occupational therapist working for a third party administrator (TPA). Many contractors follow the steps of

a Fit For Duty aſter someone has been injured and are part of a return to work program. While the main purpose of bring- ing someone back to work as quickly as possible is for the benefit of the employee, there is an additional underlying purpose as there is a correlation between work- ers’ compensation and the impact on the employer’s Experience Modification Rate (EMR). Injured employees impact the employer’s EMRs which can ultimately affect the contractors’ ability to bid future work. As a result, contractors have excelled in managing the risk of the injured worker returning to work, and are slowly starting to recognize the value in utilizing this tool more proactively during the hiring process. Te Association of Union Constructors

(TAUC) has been exploring ways Fit for Duty programs could benefit the union construction industry. TAUC has recog- nized the potential for these programs in benefiting contractors by lowering risk and insurance rates; making them more com- petitive and increasing market share. In Fit for Duty programs, tradespeople have access to medical screening that may help prevent injuries and illnesses while possibly reducing costs to the union’s health and welfare funds. Additionally, the customer benefits due to cost savings associated with less down time and more efficient, safer projects.

Fit for Duty Te word “fit” has several definitions.

It can be used as an adjective to describe someone who is qualified, ready, healthy and in good shape. As a verb, it can be used to join, interlock or match. For example, matching a glove to the appropriate sized hand can be likened to matching an indi- vidual to the appropriate task where they

summer 2013

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