The Importance of Light Duty in Construction
It’s no secret: construction workers face a high risk of injuries from a variety of hazards, ranging from threatening heights to heavy machinery. In fact, statistics show that roughly 20 percent of worker fatalities result from construction work–related incidents, and 10 percent of construction site workers suffer injuries each year. That means that construction workers account for around 150,000 injuries per year, often requiring time off work to recover.
Comprehensive light duty programs are key to easing employees back into the workforce while they recover.
Light duty work is modified or less physically demanding jobs that helps workers heal from an injury if they’re unable to perform their usual duties. Examples of light duty work include:
Supervising and reporting on jobs sites,
Taking inventory, or
Working a desk job.
These programs are important because employees who don't work at all while recovering from injuries typically have a harder time returning to work once recovered. They can also face additional risks like opioid addiction. In fact, injured workers who are out of work six months or longer are far less likely to return to work at all, leaving employers in a crunch to find a replacement. Employers who offer a solid, comprehensive, and well-informed light duty and return-to-work program can get their employees back to work quickly and safely.
The benefits of light duty programs don't stop there. For employees, a comprehensive light duty program offers financial security, job security, and skill retention. For employers, a light duty program helps retain experienced employees and reduce turnover, and decreases costs relating to disability benefits. Light duty programs also promote better morale across the organization, as employees know their employer has their back if they're injured on the job.
In a high-risk field like construction, employers should be prepared to offer injured workers options for returning to work in a limited or modified role. A formal light duty policy ensures that when accidents occur, everyone feels supported and prepared for what comes next.