The Frank Consequences of Outdated Job Descriptions

Mike Steinborn, MBA

The other day I was talking to my friend's Uncle who is a safety manager at a manufacturing company. His employees have many job duties that involve heavy lifting and he has smartly instituted a job rotation program to minimize musculoskeletal injuries. One of the jobs in the rotation is essentially that of a button pusher. This job is coveted by the employees, because it involves a large control panel and the employee sits simply pushing various buttons. However, most all the other jobs involved in the job rotation involve some sort of heavy lifting, pulling, or pushing.

Unfortunately, an employee (let's call him Frank) injured his back while performing one of the heavy job tasks. Frank was off work for many months with a workers' compensation injury. When it came time for Frank to go back to work, he submitted a note from his Doctor that said he would no longer be able to perform the heavy job tasks and could only perform the button pusher position.

The company refused, so Frank hired an attorney. The attorney asked to see a job description that laid out the essential functions of Frank's job. The company went to gather this information and realized that they had no formal job description that had been updated in over 15 years and nothing that explained the specific heavy job category tasks that were required for Frank's position. As a result, the company decided to settle out of court and paid dearly for neglecting to update their job descriptions with current essential job functions.

I wish stories like this were uncommon, but I have experienced similar stories numerous times at companies. I will ask the Safety Manager or Human Resources Manager "How long has it been since your company has updated your job descriptions?" Many times, I am greeted with blank stares or I hear "Gosh, I have been here 10 years and I can't remember the last time they were updated." I then ask, "But haven't the jobs changed in the past 10 years with technology and new equipment?" In most all cases the answer is a resounding "Yes, they certainly have." In other cases, I get handed job descriptions that have been updated recently, but they contain no/incomplete data related to specific job duties with weights, forces, repetitions, specific tasks, etc.

Woman reading Job Demands Analysis

At OccuCare, we have staff that are experts in job description development. The benefits of bringing OccuCare onsite to help include:

  • Peace of mind regarding protection from future legal action
  • A new set of eyes to bring fresh viewpoints into your workplace
  • An innovative software system with reports that you can quickly/easily read
  • Eliminate safety and ergonomic issues at employee workstations

Please contact us today at info@occucare.net or 1.833.858.9946 for a free job description review.