Are we obligated to comply? Employee’s doctor ordered an ergonomic study

Q. One of our employees tripped and fell at work. Days later, he came in with a doctor’s note ordering light-duty restrictions. The doctor’s note also ordered an “ergonomic workstation study” to be done by the employer. Is this something we are obligated to do?

A. You did not describe the nature of your employee’s injury, but if the doctor has ordered an ergonomic study, you would be wise to do it.

An ergonomic workstation study will typically assess the layout of an employee’s work space to identify po­tential sources of injury from highly repetitive motions typically performed by employees who spend much of their workday at the computer keyboard.

A study can provide a helpful springboard to interactive dialogue with the employee about needed accommodations that may prevent aggravation of an on-the-job injury. While there may be some cost associated with conducting the study, the needed adjustments to the employee’s work space may be as simple as adjusting the height of his or her chair or purchasing a new keyboard.

The price you pay for the study will likely be far less than what you would otherwise pay if the employee suffers an aggravating injury.