Do DOL Strength Level Classifications Increase Injury Risks?

Does the oversimplification of job demands increase the risk of worker injuries?

As a business owner, you are responsible for preventing employee injuries whenever possible.  This is why business owners prioritize safety inspections, workplace training, and workers compensation insurance. Unfortunately, you can’t always prevent injury risks.  For instance, one of the surprising risks that business owners are not prepared for is how the Department of Labor’s (DOL) strength levels oversimplify and underestimate the physical demands of certain positions.  Here’s why the DOL’s strength definitions can pose injury risks.

  • What are DOL Strength Definitions?

The DOL classifies jobs into five different categories depending on the frequency of lifting/pushing/pulling/carrying various weights.  These strength definitions are commonly used to determine the physical demands of a job and whether a worker is able to fill the position.

  • The Issue with DOL Strength Levels

The main problem with DOL strength levels is that they only provide a very general look at the physical demands of a position.  As mentioned, the DOL’s classification is based on the amount of weight an employee has to lift or transport and the frequency with which they do so.  However, this metric fails to take other factors into account.  For instance, the DOL does not account for the height of a lift, the duration of a lift, the amount of twisting required during a lift, and the amount of reach required during a lift.

Because the DOL’s strength classification does not take all these factors into account, it does not accurately reflect the risks that a worker faces.  When the DOL underestimates the physical demands of a position, workers and employers alike may underestimate the risks of a certain job.  This can lead to the hiring of an unqualified candidate, unsatisfactory training, unrealistic expectations, and so on.  When employees are ill-equipped to handle the physical demands of a job, they are more at risk for serious injuries.

Ultimately, the main takeaway here is that relying on DOL strength classifications to determine the physical demands of a job places both workers and businesses at risk.  Employers need to objectively and thoroughly assess job responsibilities and ensure that candidates can actually meet these demands.  Additionally, having the right workers compensation insurance is an important part of taking care of employees and protecting your business’s liability.  Do you need help securing workers comp coverage?  If so, then contact the experts at PMC Insurance Group.  Our dedicated team is eager to assist you with all your commercial coverage needs today.

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