Getting a medical note from an employee regarding an ergonomic evaluation or piece of equipment may create a lot of questions for you as an employer. How do you protect your company’s budget, the employee’s safety and health, and respond in a consistent manner to all employees?
How do you do this while staying compliant with ADA, OSHA, worker’s compensation and even your own policies and procedures?
Whether you are a small, mid-size or large employer, you need a plan for handling this. It’s a delicate matter, and one that many businesses are not prepared for, so we’re here to help.
Why Employees Bring a Doctor’s Note
The first step is to identify what prompted the employee to submit a note to you. The most common reason is that the employee has some kind of problem that they have not been able to fix. For example, they may feel aches or pains when they work and do not know what to do about it.
Sometimes, employees bring you a note because the medical provider is recommending it. It could be very injury specific and the doctor considers it part of the treatment plan or it could be a generalized recommendation made for “health” or prevention.
Some employees bring you a note because they want something but don’t necessarily need it. If they saw another employee bring you a doctor’s note for a standing workstation, and they want one, they will go get themselves a note – whether or not they really need to stand.
Concerns You Might Have About an Ergonomic Doctor’s Note
Naturally, when this happens, you may have a wide range of questions.
Does the employee really need what is on the note? Do I have to provide this?
What happens if all the employees start bringing notes?
Is the doctor treating the employee or just writing a prescription?
What kind of furniture should you provide if the doctor recommends “an ergonomic chair” or a “standing workstation”?
Could this be a worker’s compensation claim or a reasonable accommodations request?
Doctor’s Note Action Roadmap
The first thing you should do when you receive a note is to determine if the request is possibly a workers’ compensation claim or a request covered under ADA (or any other regulations that apply to your organization). If so, you will want to refer the employee to the proper reporting or request process.
Then, consider whether or not you have policies and procedures that you need to follow. Do you offer ergonomic training that will help the employee understand what they should be doing at the workstation? Are they required to complete training before having an individual evaluation? What equipment is standard and when is non-standard equipment allowed?
Finally, you can use a professional ergonomic evaluation to give you an objective evaluation of the employee and their workstation. The evaluation will help you answer questions about what is really needed and will help you ensure that the employee fully understands proper ergonomics and their role in working safely. The evaluator will also be able to make furniture and equipment recommendations if needed and can also give you a range of suggested ways to solve problems.
Want to Know More? Healthworks Ergonomics Can Help.
One of the most daunting tasks in ergonomics is deciding how to respond to medical notes. If you would like a step-by-step plan that guides you through the decision-making process, we have good news! We have created a guide for employers called How to Handle Medical Notes. It can help you and your team handle these requests with proper care and attention.
The first section helps you understand how ergonomics can help you comply with worker’s compensation, ADA, OSHA and your own policies and procedures.
The second section is a decision-making roadmap that shows you exactly how to navigate through these regulatory issues and find objective ways to handle requests.
In the third section, we will show you how you can use ergonomic training and evaluations to systematically address problems in a way that suits your company’s needs.
And finally, this guide will help you develop policies and procedures to easily handle requests in the future.
Our How to Handle Medical Notes guide was written by industry-leading experts at Healthworks Ergonomics, so you can trust it has the best, most up-to-date information to help you. Take the stress and guesswork out of managing medical notes once and for all. Download the guide here or contact Healthworks Ergonomics today if you would like more information or need assistance.