Whitt & Del Bueno, Attorneys at Law

Leaders in defending workers' compensation claims.

Articles

Gimme Shelter

By Mike Del Bueno

Employees injured in work accidents often times cannot return to the job they had at the time they were injured, usually because of doctor’s restrictions or physical limitations. In many instances, such employees receive vocational rehabilitation services. These services are designed to help an injured employee in a number of ways, such as obtaining employment for them that takes into account any physical restrictions they may have as a result of the work accident, or by providing training on a new set of skills for use at work.

Employees injured in work accidents often times cannot return to the job they had at the time they were injured, usually because of doctor’s restrictions or physical limitations. In many instances, such employees receive vocational rehabilitation services. These services are designed to help an injured employee in a number of ways, such as obtaining employment for them that takes into account any physical restrictions they may have as a result of the work accident, or by providing training on a new set of skills for use at work.

However, not all such services can be appropriate for the injured worker. The Commission and the Courts have frowned in the past upon some facilities called “sheltered workshops” for use in vocational rehabilitation. These sheltered workshops are usually subsidized by workers’ compensation insurance carriers, who pay the facility to either employ or re-train the injured worker. In order to be viewed as legitimate, it must be shown that the facility provides the injured worker with actual work skills for use in employment or restores him to a productive place in the labor market.

The purpose of this article is not to say that sheltered workshops should never be used. The point expressed is that when utilizing any sheltered workshop in vocational rehabilitation services, it is very important to look carefully at the facility in question to see what job skills or training it provides, and to determine those can legitimately be used in the workplace. The injured worker’s own skills, aptitude, educational history, and work background should also be factored into any decision for placement at a sheltered workshop. Failure to conduct such analyses can result in wasted time, effort, finances and other resources.

If you have concerns about whether or not to use a sheltered workshop as part of vocational rehabilitation services for an injured worker, give us a call to talk about it. We will be more than happy to help you through the thought processes that will help you determine how to proceed.