Everything Old is New Again

5 10 2012

Well, the landscape keeps changing with each new issuance of case law. The recent Dahl decision is very interesting because it addresses the claim in Ogilvie 3 that a LeBouf style analysis is only appropriate in cases of total disability.

In Dahl, the court gainsays this statement. It says that such an analysis can also be done and found useful in cases of less than 100% disability. This is a critical piece as we continue to sort out the best way to determine disability.

By the way, the Dahl case also says that impairment in the ability to compete in the open labor market is essentially synonymous with diminished future earning capacity. In many cases, this simply cannot be true, but that is a topic for another blog entry on another day!


Post-Ogilvie, is there a need for VR experts?

6 10 2011

In light of the recent decisions, many attorneys are asking if there is still a role for VR experts now that Ogilvie is dead. To answer this, we need only take a look at the case that turned Ogilvie on its head.

The appellate court on July 29 reversed the decision of the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board in the case of Ogilvie vs. WCAB, sending the case back to the appeals board for further review of evidence.

In the decision, the court said that the Ogilvie method of determining the FEC modifier was inappropriate, and the court allowed three different methods of approaching cases. The most significant method for our discussion is simply that the court returned the status quo to pre-Ogilvie. Prior to Ogilvie, VR experts were retained to address a worker’s future earning capacity in order to demonstrate that the individual worker’s ability to earn was NOT accurately depicted by the existing rating system, therefore attempting to increase benefits. Ogilvie attempted to quantify and standardize a method for doing so. In the July 29 decision, the court returned us to the days before Ogilvie. This means there may still be a role for VR experts, particularly in cases where the AMA guidelines and the existing rating system do a poor job of representing the future earning capacity for an injured worker.

Frankly, this will likely mean that far fewer cases will proceed with VR experts. One reason is that determining with accuracy someone’s earning capacity is far more difficult than simply doing an Ogilvie calculation. Ogilvie analyses were often (but not always) performed strictly on the basis of wage info. Determining FEC, however, often involves a thorough evaluation of the worker, which may include interview, testing, and more. As such, expert’s fees will be higher than in Ogilvie cases, and referrals to experts will therefore be made in a less casual fashion than we saw in Ogilvie.

Time will tell, of course, what happens as this issue continues to shake out. Most people agree that the pre-Ogilvie method was less than satisfactory. A return to that method is therefore met with mixed feelings and opinions.

Is it one job or two?

8 03 2011

I often come across workers who perform several different jobs as part of their usual and customary work.   I call these compound occupations, and they can pose a challenge to a Job Analyst.

One time, I was asked to do a JA at a creamery.   When I showed up, I learned that the worker did four different jobs on rotation.  And the rotation occurred WEEKLY.  This is important.

You see, if a worker rotates between positions every couple hours, as in common in many production facilities, we would normally try to describe all the assignments in one document, one analysis.  This is simply because we can still extrapolate the average amount of lifting, walking, bending, stooping etc that is performed each day.  However, if the worker performs distinctly different positions, where there is very little in common between the positions, and s/he moves between them on a rotation every day or week, it may be more accurate to describe them separately.  In these cases, separate documents more accurately reflect each job, and we can them communicate to the recipient of the document how often the worker works at each assignment.

There are several advantages to this.  For one, this process makes each job much more understandable, wherein mashing many positions together can result in an incomprehensible mess.  In addition, have descriptions of each separate assignment allows them to addressed separately.  For instance, a doctor or an employer may determine a worker can do one or two of the assignments but not the third or fourth.  Having separate documents allows each position to addressed individually.

How do you eat an elephant?  One chunk at a time.

The same applies to these compound occupations!

Can an Employer do a JA on their own?

19 04 2010

In a word…yes!  But SHOULD an employer do this process on their own?  That is another question!

Job Analyses are touchy things, and they are easily “shaded” one way or another.  Unfortunately, should an employer take on this task on their own, they are likely to run into accusations that the analysis is not accurate or downplays the actual job requirements.  And this accusation may come whether the analysis is accurate or not!  In fact, the employer could do the world’s best analysis and it still fall prey to accusation.

It is therefore most common that an outside, NEUTRAL party facilitate the job analysis process.  This is often a professional job analyst or vocational expert who is called upon to develop an accurate report of the job requirements from a disinterested viewpoint.  Having a qualified, reputable analyst is critical because many decisions may hinge upon the job analysis, and the last thing you want is for those decisions to be questioned after the fact because the job analysis is questions.

So pick a VERY GOOD Job Analyst and help facilitate the process.  The extra expertise will pay for itself in spades.  And the fact that you used a neutral party can be very helpful if the related issues ever go to court.

What is a Video Job Analysis?

16 11 2009

A Video JA is simply a traditional Job Analysis with an old-fashioned paper report that is supplemented with video, often delivered by VHS, DVD, or online video.  When we do a Video JA, we sit down at length with the employer and employee to describe the position first on paper.  This process can take several hours as we discuss the work duties, physical requirements, shifts, environmental factors, and much more.  We then take some time to determine which functions of the job are best described by video.  We will often concentrate on unusual functions or those not easily conveyed in the written word.  For example, we wouldn’t devote much video to depict a clerical worker using a computer, but we might want to show on video how the worker “burns” CDs in bulk quantities or “jogs” stacks of papers in some collating task.

What you see at the end of the process is a highly detailed written job analysis document along with a video or DVD showing key

components of the job.  It is the video that clearly and rapidly conveys to the viewer exactly how a job is done.  With the video, the viewer does not have to picture the job in the “mind’s eye.”  It is right there on the screen.

Video add clarity that words can sometimes lack

Video add clarity that words can sometimes lack

At Career Concepts,  we go another step beyond simply copying the video shot at the job site.  We also edit and reorganize the video so it presents the information in the most logical sequence.  We also add chapters and subtitles to the video to make it even easier to view and understand what you are viewing.  Lastly, we burn the video to DVD and send it in a sleeve that is pre-punched for storage in a flat claims or legal file.  This DVD can be viewed in most computers, laptops, and in the typical DVD player.  As a courtesy, we also keep additional copies of the DVD in case someone misplaces theirs!

Until next time….


Is a Video JA worth the extra money?

16 11 2009

A Video Job Analysis usually costs anywhere from $200-$400 more than a traditional JA.  But it can pay for itself almost immediately.  Think about it.  Most JA’s are requested in order to educate “somebody” about a worker’s job duties.  That “somebody” could be a doctor, attorney, insurance carrier, or even a jury.  While an expert job analyst can do an excellent job of describing an occupation using the written word, there is sometimes no substitute for video.

Let me give you an example.  Not long ago, I was asked to video tape the job duties of a truck driver in the oil fields of Central California.  The worker had conveyed to the doctor that driving a truck through the oil fields required continuous turning of the neck in order to avoid debris, navigate around obstacles, etc.  ON PAPER, it made sense that the worker would turn and twist his neck quite often.  However, the video showed that the worker spent far more time looking forward than he ever did looking to the side. And 5 minutes of video tape showed the doctor the precise physical motions in a way that I would have had great difficulty describing in a written Job Analysis.

Pouring Molten Metal

A picture paints a thousand words...but what about video?

How does this pay for the additional cost of getting and editing video?  Easy.  A highly accurate depiction of a worker’s duties eliminates a lot of misunderstandings when it comes to work duties.  And it is hard for a worker or supervisor to watch video of a job being done and to then argue against it.  While video has its limitations,

the clarity it gives a viewer is extremely valuable, and such clarity helps reduce or eliminate delays.  I have seen several occasions where traditional Job Analyses were completed only to have one party or the other dispute the exact same document they helped prepare (and even sign!).  This causes delays while the parties fight, sometimes even requiring intervention by a judge to resolve.  Any delay costs money, both in disability payments being made and in administrative and legal costs.  A Video Job Analysis helps eliminate many delays and disputes.

The small additional cost to add video to a JA pays off in spades!  What does it cost to wait for 4 weeks while parties argue about job duties?  How much will you pay in legal fees, disability benefits, admin costs during this time?  In California, where the maximum weekly worker’s comp payment is over $900, just a two week delay to seek clarification of a job could cost nearly $2000. And how many times do delays take much longer than this?  A video JA helps avoid such delays.

The sooner a doctor, carrier, attorney, or jury accurately understands a worker’s duties, the sooner they can make a proper determination about benefit eligibility, return-to-work, compensation, and causation.  And early, accurate determinations save huge amounts of money.

Until next time….


How Long Should It Take to Get a Job Analysis Completed?

15 11 2009

Not long!  At least that’s our read!  There was a time when the average turnaround for a Job Analysis was 30-60 days.  And that seemed reasonable at the time.


A JA Shouldn't Take Forever!

It often took a couple weeks to get in touch with the parties and get the JA on calendar, and then that calendar date was often a week or more away.  Then, after the meeting occurred, the job analyst would have to get his notes transcribed or dictate a report what had to be transcribed.  The analyst would then ave to chase downs the parties to have them review and sign the JA report.  And more often than not, the analyst would also have to resolve discrepancies between the parties, often when one party or the other says something completely contradictory to the information that was gathered at the JA meeting.

That was then.  This is now.
30-60 days is no longer acceptable.  In fact, barring unusual circumstances, a Job Analysis assignment should be completed 2-3 weeks after the referral.  In our office, 3weeks is the absolute outside limit.  We are often done in a week! One reason for this has to do with technology.  We prepare our actual report with the parties on the day of the meeting, and we ask them to sign the report right there!  In this way, the information is fresh in their heads, and we are only asking them to sign that which they just told us is accurate.  In this way, the report is ready on the day of the meeting.

On several occasions, we have been able to complete the Job Analysis, prepare the report, add pictures (if any), and fax the report to the parties or the doctor all on the same day!

So demand a fast turnaround time from your Job Analyst.  Provided that the employer and worker are readily available for scheduling, the whole process should be completed quickly.  And this saves you money!