The Return To Work Blog

Return To Work Success : A Concrete Construction Foreman

Posted by Lara Cole on May 18, 2016 7:48:00 AM

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Sometimes it's difficult to Return-To-Work-Concrete-Foreman.jpegfathom how in a physically demanding work environment like a construction site, that there are options for Return To Work.  Add to the fact that you may be dealing with a small employer who does not have a surplus of other positions an injured worker could fill, and people quickly write off the possibility to return someone to work until they are 100% recovered.  In this Return To Work Spotlight, we have a three-man crew consisting of the owner, working foreman and another employee. They were licensed for both commercial and residential jobs.  The concrete construction foreman was out of work with a work release, with a left upper extremity injury.  The work release stated that two-handed duty was required, he could not lift anything over 50 lbs. with his left upper extremity, no pushing/pulling over 50 lbs. with his left upper extremity and no working or driving while on narcotics.
The concrete construction foreman was responsible for the following activities:
  • Operate demolition tools to break up existing concrete or masonry using pneumatic chisels, pneumatic air hammer, or electric concrete breakers.
  • Provide job-site clean-up preparing for work using a skid-steer loader, shovel, pick, wheelbarrow and other tools to clear rocks, trees, shrubs, old concrete, exposing raw earth.
  • Operate commercial truck with dump trailer, and skid-steer (loading and unloading hydraulic dump trailer).
  • Layout, set up, and build forms for footings, walkways, walls, slabs and other structures introducing rebar, wire mesh, expansion joints and other reinforcements.
  • Cut, bend, tie and place rebar in forms.
  • Shovel, mix, pour, spread, compact and level fill dirt, base materials, and/or concrete.
  • Pour, pump or wheelbarrow dump concrete into forms.

Hindering Factors

Despite all of the physically demanding tasks listed above, there were only two things keeping this concrete construction foreman from returning to work:

  1. He had to lift very heavy ramps that weighed 170 lbs. the were used to load/unload the skid-steer from the dump trailer.
  2. He had to push a wheelbarrow loaded with concrete or aggregate material that weighed up to 300 lbs.

Return To Work Plan

We determined that the following recommendations would allow this injured concrete construction foreman to return to work, working within the restrictions outlined by his treating physician.

  • Outfit the dump trailer with lightweight hook-in skid-steer ramps ($350/pair) similar to these which weigh only 30 lbs.
  • Reduce the loads pushed in the wheelbarrow by making multiple trips.
  • Provide the concrete construction foreman with anti-vibration gloves ($33.00) similar to these to reduce vibration when using powered demolition tools.
  • Use team lifting to divide the load between two or more employees (e.g., loading the plate powered compactor in/out of truck).
  • Limit the duration of extended heavy hand tool use through job rotation.
  • Increase rest and recovery periods through micro-breaks and task rotation.
  • Implement a graduated return to work program to allow the employee to transition back to work, progressing to an 8-hour workday as tolerated.

The solution to this problem was found in the work environment.  We treated the specific issues that were preventing his return, and found a low cost accommodation that was agreed to by all parties.   The Employer was in full support of the Return To Work plan, as was the injured worker. Following our recommendations allowed for a successful Return To Work, to his original job.

Click Here To Download A Recent Case Study:  Getting A Foundry Pitman Back To Work


Topics: Return To Work, Spotlight of the Month

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Click here to download a recent Case Study: Getting a Pitman at a Foundry Back to Work