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Should the Employee Return to Normal Duties?

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 3 Feb 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Employee Accident Riddor Workplace

Q.Recently one of our employees fell over and struck his head while working as a machinist and was unconscious for a few minutes.

An ambulance was called and he was taken to hospital. It was reported under RIDDOR 95 and the appropriate accident report form filled out and signed.

The employee has returned to work having been away from work for three consecutive days. We are concerned as his employer if there is underlying health problems connected with this occurence that he may suffer the same occurence while working on the machines.

What is the procedure with regards to him returning to his normal duties given that he may have some underlying health problems?

(Mr John Colligan, 26 September 2008)

A.

First of all, it is to be applauded that you are concerned about your employee’s welfare and that you are keen to ensure that he is fit enough to return to work so soon after his accident. You have also followed the correct procedure in the way you have gone about reporting the accident.

Unfortunately, accidents do occur in the workplace from time to time as you will be aware and a fall resulting in an employee falling unconscious is quite a serious one. However, it was simply that, an accident, so unless the fall was caused by some kind of negligence in terms of the company not taking correct safety precautions when it comes to slips, trips and falls and you have given no indication of that, then the chances are that it was simply a ‘one off’ accident that could not be helped.

In terms of your concerns however, there is no specific evidence mentioned in your question which would lead to the belief that the member of staff is not fit enough to return to work. He obviously feels fit enough to return or he wouldn’t have done so until he felt fit and able to do so and no doubt you have spoken to him since he came back and discussed his well-being with him.

However, in order to put your mind at rest with regards to not only your employee’s welfare but also about any possibility of any company liability issue arising down the track should he encounter any further health problems as a result of this incident, you may wish to have him examined if you employ an external Health Assessor. Alternatively, ask the employee to go and visit his GP. Here, he should explain the nature of the accident and what took place and he should tell the GP what his job entails. Then, it should be left to the GP to determine whether or not your employee is fit enough to return to work. From a liability perspective, you might also consider asking for a written letter from the GP to verify that he/she has given your employee a clean bill of health to return to work although there is likely to be a small charge for this which obviously, you should foot the bill for, given that you have requested the visit.

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Dina- Your Question:
When I started working I got a contract of 16 hours a week on days bit for the last 5 minth I have been covering for another colleague working 40 hour a week on nights. Now that they have returned back to there night shift which I have been covering my manager is now telling me I have to return to my contracted hours. Are they allowed to do this??

Our Response:
Yes, if your contract is for 16 hours, that's what you can be asked to work.You agreed to work the extra hours to cover knowing that it would be temporary as the colleague would return to it.
SafeWorkers - 6-Feb-17 @ 12:17 PM
When I started working I got a contract of 16 hours a week on days bit for the last 5 minth I have been covering for another colleague working 40 hour a week onnights. Now that they have returned back to there night shift which I have been covering my manager is now telling me I have to return to my contracted hours. Are they allowed to do this??
Dina - 3-Feb-17 @ 7:56 PM
i have been diagnosed have having trigger thumb which means my thumb locks up at random times due to repetitive use and exposure to cold conditions. I currently work nights in a major supermarket filling chiller aisles , unloading deliveries and sorting deliveries. I went to the doctors who gave me a note stating i was to go on light duties & restricting the use of my right hand. my manager refused to acknowledge this note & put me on normal duties.i then went back to my doctors as i was in a lot of pain , which subsequently led to me having two weeks of without pay. i am due to see the consultant in a few weeks for them to decide my next step of treatment, I am back at work and have explained that i need un- repetitive light duties which do not involve spending prolonged periods of time in chiller cabinets. my managers have not done this and disregarded the doctors advice again. can i claim against the company/manager for my two weeks off as it was their fault i was off .do the company have a duty of care to provide me with light duties away from chillers as they have done for other employees in the past. i feel discriminated against and treated unfairly . your thoughts would be appreciated.
keefie - 21-Jan-17 @ 3:45 PM
Sammy - Your Question:
HiMy workplace has set up a IT Training Room with straight desks, flat screens, keyboards, mouse's and docking stations (users bring their own laptops). The chairs that have been supplied are standard chairs with legs not operator chairs. The room is only used for training purposes i.e. when needed to train staff members on new pieces of software etc. Are the chairs supplied suitable for this purpose as the workstations aren't going to be used habitually or do the chairs still need to be proper operator chairs?

Our Response:
If they're only to be used for short periods of time this should not be an issue. Height adjustability would be the main issue if you had an especially tall or short operator.
SafeWorkers - 8-Sep-16 @ 12:40 PM
Hi My workplace has set up a IT Training Room with straight desks, flat screens, keyboards, mouse's and docking stations (users bring their own laptops). The chairs that have been supplied are standard chairs with legs not operator chairs. The room is only used for training purposes i.e. when needed to train staff members on new pieces of software etc. Are the chairs supplied suitable for this purpose as the workstations aren't going to be used habitually or do the chairs still need to be proper operator chairs?
Sammy - 7-Sep-16 @ 2:27 PM
Stephen Gibson - Your Question:
I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, arthritis of the spine and I also have a sliped disk. I have been finding it progressively more difficult to work. I have been off work for arround a month, also off for weeks at a time on and off preceding this. I have begged my doctor to give me a fit note stating I am fit for work but light duties. I have to work as I am in a lot of debt due to only receiving SSP and as I am employed I am not entitled to claim anything. I am still in extreme pain but will be homeless if I don't pay my rent. The only pain killers that take the edge off the pain render my unable to drive thus unable to work. What are my options if my employer cannot or will not take adequate measures to make it possible for me to carry on working as taking time off is just not an option sa I have a family to support. Can I insist on reduced hours and refuse to do call out, as being a heating engineer I can end up doing 16 hour days when on call. I start at 8 am and I struggle to work till 3:30 as I am in agony and barely able to drive. Basicaly I would like to know what my employers responsability is in this situation ( my hands are in agony just typing this) I feel I am in a catch 22 situation, being unable to work and at the same time having to work as I cannot let my family be homeless. L

Our Response:
If your employer can realistically provide light duties, then they can do so. But are not obliged to pay you the same salary if you are doing a different job. If your employer does not have alternative work then they can dismiss you as you are unable to do your job.
SafeWorkers - 16-Nov-15 @ 10:54 AM
I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, arthritis of the spine and I also have a sliped disk. I have been finding it progressively more difficult to work. I have been off work for arround a month, also off for weeks at a time on and off preceding this. I have begged my doctor to give me a fit note stating I am fit for work but light duties. I have to work as I am in a lot of debt due to only receiving SSP and as I am employed I am not entitled to claim anything. I am still in extreme pain but will be homeless if I don't pay my rent. The only pain killers that take the edge off the pain render my unable to drive thus unable to work. What are my options if my employer cannot or will not take adequate measures to make it possible for me to carry on working as taking time off is just not an option sa I have a family to support. Can I insist on reduced hours and refuse to do call out, as being a heating engineer I can end up doing 16 hour days when on call. I start at 8 am and I struggle to work till 3:30 as I am in agony and barely able to drive. Basicaly I would like to know what my employers responsability is in this situation ( my hands are in agony just typing this) I feel I am in a catch 22 situation, being unable to work and at the same time having to work as I cannot let my family be homeless. L
Stephen Gibson - 13-Nov-15 @ 1:37 PM
my employer has told the staff we have to attend a meeting, after hours, that will take up to 3 hours. We have also been told when we finish work we are to go home and shower and then put on our uniform before going to the venue where the meeting is going to be held. Can they insist we attend? I work a 10/11 hour day and do not want to waste the few hours I have each evening attending a meeting no one wants to go to anyway.They have also told us we must now be clean shaven, wear a uniform that we have to purchase full price and must shower every day for work. I personally find this offensive and wonder if they are over stepping the mark by saying this.They have never had a uniform before, there is nothing in my contract re uniform and if we leave they are going to take the whole cost out of final pay even though it has the company logo on it and would be of no use if no longer working for this company.Can someone let me know their thoughts on where I go from here with this.
MFBOW - 15-Jul-15 @ 2:15 PM
@scally. No, from what you've told us there wouldn't be a problem. There is nothing to force you to stay with an employer even if you have an injury claim in place.
SafeWorkers - 22-Jun-15 @ 2:25 PM
HI i wonder can you help ? I boke my leg at workand have a claim going on. I have just been given the all clear to return to work by my consultant .After eight months off. The question i want to ask isi have a offer of another job elsewhere and want to take it is there anything to stop me from giving my notice. thanks for any advice
scally - 17-Jun-15 @ 3:19 PM
I for a public school 10 years and applied for a new position I was moving from a grounds specialist to a lead custodian.Increase in pay and new classification.This means I'm on probation for 10 months.I was asked to move 10 tables from there current spot about 200 feet mind you the tables weight is over 200 lbs.I had the secretary at the school I work at to put a work order in to our maintenance department requesting help to move the tables.We have to have a work order for everything. The response I received said no they wouldn't provide me help and that I needed tpo coordinate the move with my night custodian.Now I'm 5'2" 100 lbs and my nigth custodian is 5" 150 lbs.There were 2 grounds men on our campus and they offered to help but our supervisor said no they couldn't help us because it was my site and I had to handle it.So we did using a dolly and strapping the table to the dolly.Now mind you if the table was to fall we would both get hurt could even result in a major injury.It took us 1 1/2 hrs to move the tables.The next day when the tables needed to be moved back my supervisor sent to of his maintance guys over with furniture dollies to move the tables theymade the move in about 30 mins.People watching my self and night custodian moving the tables were in shock.Since I'm on probation I've been told there is nothing I can do.Is this true.
sam - 6-May-15 @ 7:09 AM
I have worked for a large college for 10 years and have spent the last year in a new department due to a programme of change management (redundancies) I have been doing a number of teaching roles that are new to me and a whole new clientele. This has caused me to become stressed and have recently been off with work related stress for a number of months. Can anyone advise on the following? I am attending a well-being meeting with my line manager and a representative from HR department. I do not want to get back into a similar situation. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Please.
BML - 7-Jan-15 @ 9:10 AM
@jason. Yes if you are not fit to do the job and they cannot provide you with an alternative this is possibly the only option open to them.
SafeWorkers - 18-Nov-14 @ 10:27 AM
Had accident in work and after 11wks off the doctor gave me note to say return on light duties. After a wk back I was making myself worse and employers said withdraw light duties job as was going to slowly even though it wasn't light duties job they had me doing. They said want me back on sick and been signed off 2 more wks. Can they do that?
Jason - 18-Nov-14 @ 4:28 AM
@nor. Your employer should make allowances for your to attend appointments if you have/ or have had cancer and should not discriminate against you because of your illness. See our article Cancer: your rights as an employee for more information.
SafeWorkers - 6-Nov-14 @ 12:50 PM
I have just returned to work after having breast cancer my shift is 6.00am till 12.00pm 6 hours a day 5 days a week since my return I have been off work sick twice and just had my addentdance review and told if I have any more time off they may give me a worning they also would like me to change my shifts still only doing 6 hours a day can they do thisThankyou
nor - 5-Nov-14 @ 1:49 PM
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