Your Questions Answered: Adjusting work arrangements for an injured worker

By Andrew Hobbs on November 7th, 2017

Q
A worker who has been with us for seven months has just brought to our attention that she has ongoing back issues due to four car accidents that she was involved in prior to commencing employment with us. She has been receiving ongoing treatment from various medical practitioners. Her current doctor recommends she change her workstation by getting a new chair and possibly a stand-up desk. The doctor has told me that we would need to pay for any changes to her workstation.

What are our obligations, particularly as we had no prior knowledge of the worker’s condition? Is it our responsibility to implement and pay for the changes recommended by the doctor, and are the doctor’s recommendations binding?

 

A
You have an obligation to ensure this worker’s health and safety. As you are now aware of her injury, you will need medical evidence that she is fit to attend work. Further, you should take reasonable steps to ensure that she does not exacerbate her injury, i.e. by not requiring her to perform tasks that could do so.

Although the doctor’s recommendations are not binding, you are required to make reasonable accommodations so that the worker can perform the job. This includes implementing and paying for reasonable changes to the workstation set-up. You should require the worker to provide you with a medical certificate stating that she is fit to perform her job (albeit with a change to the workstation). You should also check with her regularly to see how well she is recovering and, if there is any indication that she may not be fit for work, require her to provide a new medical certificate. Finally, you should not require her to perform any tasks that could affect her recovery.

 





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