Do you understand the role of the vocational counselor in your L&I claim? Did your vocational counselor perform a stand alone job analysis? Hopefully the information below can help shed some light on the topic.
A vocational counselor may be assigned to your L&I claim at almost any point during the claim administration process. Not surprisingly, many injured worker feel some anxiety when they learn that a vocational counselor has been assigned to their workers’ compensation claim. It can help to ease some of the anxiety, if injured workers understand the nature and goals of the vocational assignment. The various types of vocational assignments include: stand alone job analysis, early intervention, ability to work assessment, plan development, plan implementation, and a forensic evaluation.
Stand Alone Job Analysis: According to the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), a stand alone job analysis referral is made when L&I needs job analysis information to adjudicate a workers’ comp claim. However, according to WAC 296-19A-137, the Department can request a stand alone job analysis to analyze the requirements and characteristics of jobs, an injured worker’s ability to perform job functions and duties, and whether the injured worker requires further vocational rehabilitation services in order to become employable at gainful employment. Stand alone job analysis services are distinct services from any other referral type and may not be performed in conjunction with another referral for vocational rehabilitation services. A referral for a stand alone job analysis may be made at any time while the L&I claim is open or in provisional status. The provider shall conduct an on-site job analysis whenever possible. Stand alone job analysis services must be completed and submitted to the department within fifteen calendar days of the referral assignment. The provider shall prepare a report addressing all elements set forth in WAC 296-19A-170.
WAC 296-19A-170 requires the vocational rehabilitation provider to (1) include identifying information (worker name, claim number, and job title and DOT code); (2) the name of the provider completing the analysis, the location and date the analysis is performed, and employer name and contact if applicable; (3) the essential functions (basic, necessary, and integral parts of job) and all other tasks required to perform the job; (4) tool and equipment requirements; (5) skills requirements; (6) physical demands and their frequency; (7) environmental hazards; (8) potential job modifications, if applicable; (9) a section for medical, approval, signature and comments; and (10) the signature and date of the provider submitting the job analysis to the Department. On it’s website L&I has provided forms for physical demands job analysis and a job analysis summary.
Because a stand alone job analysis can be used to determine a worker’s ability to perform the job analyzed, I always encourage injured workers to review the analysis carefully so that any concerns, discrepancies, or inaccuracies can be raised with the vocational counselor or the claims manager for correction or attention. Additionally, if the document is being presented to the attending provider for review and comment, I always encourage injured workers to discuss it with the provider before a response is submitted, especially if there are any concerns about the injured worker’s ability to perform the job that has been analyzed.