Light Duty Programs

Returning injured workers to the workplace in a safe & timely manner

What is a modified Light Duty Program?   

A modified light duty program is a temporary, progressive and goal oriented approach to returning an injured worker to the workplace.  The goal of the program is to provide an injured worker the opportunity to return to work (RTW) within his physical restrictions. The job tasks should be meaningful and productive duties that provide the injured worker with a satisfaction, resulting in a positive experience for both the company and the employee. 

Employer Benefits

  • Controls direct and indirect costs resulting from a workers' compensation claim.

  • Reduces production downtime

  • Decreases number of days from work -- helps reach zero lost time goal/incentive and conveys the strong message to all employees no lost time is the goal

  • Reduces need to train and/or hire replacement workers

  • Maintains valued and knowledgeable employees

  • Maintains a stable workforce

  • Demonstrates to employees the company cares for them and their families

Employee Benefits

  • Provides an opportunity for the employee to exhibit a positive self-image and a feeling of being a contributing member of society as he/she is not "on the couch", but performing real work and making a contribution to the company.

  • Provides the employee a place to go with a mission each day, and the ability to interact with co-workers.

  • Focus is on ability - not disability

  • Expedites recovery with on the job rehabilitation and work hardening

  • Provides employee self-motivation by watching progress

  • Keeps employee financially sound, reducing anxiety in family and social issues

  • Shows the company cares about him and his family.

Developing a Modified Light Duty Program

Simple changes to the physical characteristics of the original job; changes in work flow or scheduling, temporarily reassigning the employee to non-demeaning, productive, alternate duties; or providing adaptive devices to reduce the physical demands of a job are some ways to provide employees with a modified light duty program.

One of the greatest challenges for an employer is to identify transitional or light duty tasks within their company. An employer must consider the kinds of restrictions that are typically associated with various injuries, and it may seem impossible and impractical for the injured worker to return to work. However, the opportunities do exist and result in a win win situation for all parties.

Interesting facts quote by the Bureau of Labor Statistics include the following: (OOW = out of work, RTW = return to work)

Employee OOW 6 months = 50% chance RTW.
Employee OOW 1 year = 25 % chance RTW.
Employee OOW 2 years = 0% RTW.

Success of Modified Light Duty Program

  1. Intended to be transitional in nature. If an injured worked is not progressing in their recovery and a release to full duty is not on the foreseeable horizon please consult Human Resources and your claims adjuster.
  2. All employees should know that the company is serious about their health and well-being, and about their workers' compensation benefits.
  3. Employees should be aware of your Company's Modified Duty and Safety Programs and the benefits to them as employees. 
  4. All Supervisor and Managers need to demonstrate commitment to the program, and work with Human Resources, Risk Manager and the Workers Compensation carrier to manage the program and ensure that the injured employee and provider are cooperating.
  5. The Employee may need to be reminded to keep employer fully informed of their medical status and to provide updates after each visit to the doctor. 
  6. Upon proper medical authorization, a modified light duty position can be assigned. The supervisor must understand the limitations of the light duty position, and enforce them in order to maintain a safe work environment for all.