Career Counseling - A systematic approach to analyzing a worker’s skills, abilities and work habits, using information obtained on their education, work experience and general interests. This information is then organized into general categories of people, data and things, and further analyzed to fit into the occupational requirements of other jobs.
Ergonomic Evaluations - An analysis of a worksite with the goal of redesign or reconfiguration to bring the demand of the job within the worker’s physical capacities, thus reducing the risk of injury. A consultant with ergonomics expertise may recommend reconstruction or alteration of structures, installation of equipment, machinery, tools or furnishing. Changes may also include job rotation, work reorganization, supervisory strategies, etc.
Functional Capacity Evaluations (or Physical Capacity Assessment) - A medical evaluation performed by a Physical (RPT) or Occupational Therapist (OTR/L) which documents a worker’s actual and specific physical abilities and functional limitations. The areas measured usually include lifting, pulling, pushing, sitting and standing tolerances, carrying, squatting and balance, but the evaluation can be specific to a particular physical function, such as use of the hands. A job analysis is usually required first, to compare the worker’s ability to return to that job.
Job Analysis - A documented and detailed description of a job, developed by interviewing the worker, supervisor, observations of the job site and the job being performed. It should be specific and measurable, such as counting the number of times a certain task is done, the exact amount of physical movement and weight lifted, and the personal interactions required.
Job Seeking Skills Training - Group or individual counseling used to assist workers ready to reenter the job market. Vocational counselors assist workers in perfecting their “marketing” skills by practicing interviews, teaching job hunting techniques and perfecting their presentation. Videotaping is often utilized to observe and analyze a worker’s performance.
Labor Market Survey - Analysis of job availability and labor market trends in a particular geographical area. Data is obtained from the U.S. Labor Department, and is supplemented by random telephone interviews of local employers. This information is obtained to determine if a job market will support a particular job or skill.
Rehabilitation Engineering - The application of knowledge, skills, techniques or technology with the objective of assuring that a disabled person is able to fully participate in their job, the community and their activities of daily living. It can take the form of something as complex as a voice-activated computer or something as simple as block of wood strategically placed under a desk to make it more accessible to a person in a wheelchair, or can involve restructuring the duties of a job. These recommendations are made by formally trained engineers, vocational rehabilitation counselors or occupational therapists.
Transferable Skills Analysis - A detailed analysis of very specific skills and abilities that an individual is able to perform in spite of any disabling conditions. It should include an analysis of all prior employment and education, as well as hobbies, interests and household activities. The goal is the development of a list of specific skills, physical abilities and personal characteristics which can then be “pieced together” and “transferred” to other types of employment.
Vocational Evaluation - An assessment of the entire person, either formally using standardized testing and direct observation of work samples, or informally using an in-depth interview. The goal is to provide specific information about a person’s abilities, physical tolerances, and motivation to return to employment. Formal evaluations are usually performed at a rehabilitation center, where a variety of specific tests are used, and these results are combined with direct observation of the worker’s performance on job tasks and their abilities to relate to superiors and coworkers. Informal evaluations are usually performed by individual private vocational counselors, who employ limited testing and interviewing techniques.
Work Adjustment - A technique used to assist a worker to improve their work skills and attitudes so that they will function at a competitive level on the job. This can take the form of intensive one-on-one counseling, or a trial period of closely supervised work in a rehabilitation center. It is often used when employees have been out of the work force for a lengthy period of time and with individuals who have learning or psychiatric impairments.
Work Hardening - A highly structured, work-oriented therapy that is designed to bridge the gap between a worker’s completion of a program of physical therapy and their actual return to the job site. It is designed to gradually improve the worker’s physical abilities and occupational performance through the use of physical therapy and simulated or actual work tasks. It is usually a two- or four-week program, the worker must be motivated, ready to return to work and must have a job available to them upon completion. The latter is necessary so the worker does not lose the physical benefits gained due to a period of physical inactivity while waiting for a job to open.