So here I am acting assistant chief. I have one person who was injured on duty over 3 months back. A back injury. He has been pressed into "Light" duty assignment back here at work. Of the likes at the moment we have no "light" duty. However, Management and Personnel have stated that dispatching is considered light duty.
I am in a what will soon to be bitter argument over this whole mess. The man, who is clearly uncomfortable has to sit in a 10x10 room all day (16 hrs) and work as dispatch. I have stated that this person is absolutely useless and needs to either be under someone else's direct management or be sent home. This comes to no avail and will not be acted upon.
So fast forward to today. We are on duty, He is talking about his injury and how uncomfortable he is and so on, I asked if the doctor prescribed any medicine to him. He said yes, Vicodin and muscle relaxers... I said fine. Have you taken any today? He stated he did. Although I feel it would have been in my rights to send him home, I did not. However I DID document the fact that he told me. I will ask him the same question on my next shift. I will make it a safe assumption that he will state once again his consumption of prescribed pain medication, This time in front of the fire chief. At which point I will reference the drug free workplace regulation, Which by the way does not make distinctions of illegal and unacceptable drugs OR prescribed medications which could alter the actions and result in compromising the overall mission.
Here is the deal. My position as acting or full time assistant chief is not predicated as being a yes man. It is predicated that we all return home to our families safe and live another day to work. If he is on medicines to where he may be too stoned to catch a mayday call or miss pertinent information on a dispatch that could result in one of us getting injured or killed in the field, then I dont want him. Send him home until he is 100%.
Someone is not getting the whole story here and I stand as a liable manager if this continues. If I do not get results from the fire chief to 1, create an SOP that specifically defines the task analysis of light duty and/or remove this person from duty based on his use (not abuse) of prescribed drugs while on duty, I with all due respect will have to follow this up the chain of command post haste.
I put this out here because I need feedback from people here who may be more experienced in the management field. I am sure I am doing the right thing. It is scary to do the right thing because I can foresee politics playing a role in this in the long run. But I owe a duty to this person to make sure he does not aggravate his injury on my watch, and to my people for their safety.
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Thread: Dealing with an IOD
06-22-2009, 01:35 AM #1
- Join Date
- Jun 2009
Dealing with an IOD
06-22-2009, 06:45 PM #2
- Join Date
- Dec 1999
I'm no expert
OWCP requires employers to find "reasonable" accomodations for employees injured on duty. I'm sure you would agree it is far better to have someone doing something productive instead of sitting at home. This is pretty cut and dry if you have a broken foot. No reason to not sit in dispatch. 16 hours seems extreme unless that's standard at your department.
Also, a Doctor has to verify exactly what "light" or "restricted" duties the employee can perform. When I messed up my shoulder several years ago, my note said "No lifting over 20 pounds, no reaching above my head." I did 8 hours in Dispatch then rode as safety officer for the rest of the shift. I'm pretty sure the 600mg Motrin tid didn't affect my abilities.
I'd suggest talking to your HRO. Someone there should have more information. I agree with your concern about someone performing an emergency function while on a narcotic. You may get overridden by someone higher up the chain. At least make your concerns well known and well documented.
Hope this helps a little.
06-22-2009, 07:14 PM #3
As a former Federal FF, with an existing back condition that "likes to remind me that it is there once in a while" and occasionally required to take some pretty heavy medication, I have to say that I would not be comfortable with being assigned to a dispatching position.
-Vicodin, for me at least, makes me very lethargic and drowsy. The only thing I should be doing when I take it is laying down and sleeping. If he is not affected in this way, is he lethargic? Is he mentally 100% when he takes it, or anything else he may be prescribed? Dispatching is something that he should not be doing, and if it were me, I would refuse (dispatching) if I had to take the medication. Additionally, if I were assigned to your department, and I knew of the situation, I would file an IMMEDIATE Union grievance with the Fire Chief, the Post Safety Office and whatever organization is responsible for the administration of the Fire Department.
-Yes accomodations must be met to allow him light duty. Perhaps he could work under the Fire Marshal or Fire Inspectors doing paperwork, filing, etc. Can he do inspections?
-Also, reasonable accomodations does not mean he has to work in the Fire Department."Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."
06-23-2009, 11:49 AM #4
- Join Date
- Jul 2006
- Outside Philadelphia
06-23-2009, 12:36 PM #5
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