Information For Important Work Decisions
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Adjust the Worker Profile

Adjustment of Worker Characteristics

NOTE: This section applies to PPS, PREPOST, and OASYS

All of the worker’s characteristics can be changed to reflect:

  • Residual functional capacity or anticipated at Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)
  • Abilities unused during work history (obtained from test results)
  • Worker preferences (Career Transition / Career Exploration)

The worker characteristics section (page 2) of the Case Preparation Guide should reflect the counselor/case manager's judgment when consolidating information obtained from the recommendation and findings of treating physicians, psychologists, physical and occupational therapists, vocational evaluators and assessment personnel, and other health care professionals.

Interpret all recommendations in the context of available DOT worker characteristic factors. Use the standard DOT worker characteristics and SkillTRAN’s common case situations as a general guideline to the selection of the many possible rating levels. The frequency counts given in the characteristics descriptions are crucial to understanding the vocational impact of reduced ability to perform at less than a constant level. Do not necessarily accept recommendations at face value from medical personnel (particularly regarding "sedentary work only") unless you are sure that the recommendation is based solidly on their proper understanding of the Revised Handbook for Analyzing Jobs (RHAJ) definitions of the various DOT worker characteristics.

When it is difficult to determine how to interpret a recommendation in DOT terms, consult the 1991 Revised Handbook for Analyzing Jobs (RHAJ), published by the U.S. Dept. Of Labor (DOL). The RHAJ has many sample statements which illustrate each of the levels of worker characteristics. It is "the Bible" for the job analysts who collected data for the DOT. It is the best source to learn what each of these factors truly represents.

In processing a case, constant ability to perform physical demands or to tolerate environmental conditions is assumed by the system unless changed by you. Use the statistical frequency counts associated with each worker characteristic to guide you in making profile adjustments. Be particularly wary of adjustments to reaching, handling, and near acuity, since these are heavily skewed towards being "frequently" required in occupations. Remember that DOL job analysts assigned these ratings based on their observation of jobs as they were being typically performed, not as might be possible through job accommodation or use of some special assistive technology.

Be careful translating test results into DOT levels of a worker characteristic, especially results reported in percentiles of a norm group. Study the test content and performance demonstrated in the full context of the definitions and examples detailed in the RHAJ. Consult the RHAJ to determine the exact meaning of each level of every DOT factor. Think like the DOL job analysts in order to assign functional levels appropriate for your client. This will greatly help you to make the most meaningful adjustments to characteristics and obtain good search results for your client’s situation.

With these issues in mind, here is a brief review of the worker characteristics available for adjustment.

Strength - Determined by evaluating a combination of factors such as lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, moving objects, standing, walking, sitting, and using arm or leg controls. Selection of Light work assumes that the worker can also perform Sedentary work. Click here to learn more about the impact of some of these choices. For detailed information about Strength, review Chapter 12 of the 1991 RHAJ.

Physical Capacities - The physical activities required to perform jobs. These factors are assigned on the basis of frequency of required performance during a normal work day. For detailed information about Physical Demands, review chapter 12 of the 1991 RHAJ.

Environmental Conditions - The surroundings in which a job is performed. An environmental condition is present when it is specific and job related. For detailed information about Environmental Conditions, review chapter 12 of the 1991 RHAJ.

General Educational Development (GED) - GED embraces those aspects of education which contribute to the worker’s (a) reasoning development and ability to follow instructions and (b) acquisition of "tool" knowledge such as language and mathematical skills. There are three categories: Reasoning, Math, and Language. For more information about General Education Development, review chapter 7 of the 1991 RHAJ.

Aptitudes - As defined by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), aptitudes are "the capacities or specific abilities which an individual must have in order to learn to perform a given work activity". For more information about Aptitudes, review chapter 9 of the 1991 RHAJ.

Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) - SVP is the amount of time needed to learn the techniques, acquire the information, and develop the facility for average performance in a specific job-worker situation. SVP comes from vocational education, civilian, military, and institutional work experience, apprenticeship, and from in-plant and on-the-job training.


The Department of Labor has no official definition of SVP ranges (i.e. Skilled vs. Semi-skilled vs Unskilled). SkillTRAN has selected ranges to best reflect its perspective on the various levels of preparation required to successfully perform an occupation. For detailed information about SVP, review chapter 8 of the 1991 RHAJ.

Temperament Restrictions - The adaptability requirements made on the worker by specific types of job situations. TEMPERAMENTS relate to worker personality traits and can impact long term job retention. For more information about Temperaments, review chapter 10 of the 1991 RHAJ.


Click here for the procedure to handle adjustments for pre-existing conditions or second injury situations.


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