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Can you fight a ‘light-duty’ assignment after a work injury?

NewsPersonal Injury   February 13, 2018

Employers naturally want to get injured workers back on the job as quickly as possible – but going back to work on a light-duty assignment isn’t always the best thing for your body if you happen to be that injured worker.

The best thing you can do to fight a light-duty position that’s going to disrupt your healing process is to work closely with your treating physician to come up with a fair assessment of what you can and cannot do.

For example, if you have a low back injury, you want to discuss with your physician exactly how much you can lift or carry and for how long. You also need to address how often you should be doing it. The same goes for other work activities like sitting, kneeling, bending, reaching, twisting and walking. The more specific you get, the easier it will be to determine whether or not a light-duty position really exists that you should be doing right now.

You also need to discuss pain modification and how that affects your ability to function on the job. Side effects from pain medication and muscle relaxants can include things like dizziness, drowsiness and even confusion.

There might very well be a piece of machinery that you can easily operate, given your physical condition. However, if you require opiates to control your pain right now and they make you sleepy and unfocused, your physician may think twice about letting you operate anything that could further injure you or anyone else.

Finally, make sure that the description of the job you are supposed to be doing matches the job in real life. The job description on paper may sound a lot “lighter” than it is in practice. Before your physician signs off on a light-duty job, describe for him or her exactly what the job entails.

Ultimately, if you feel that you are being backed into a corner after a work-related accident, you may be wise to seek some advice and explore your legal options.

Source:, “Return to work,” accessed Feb. 2, 2018