Workers' Compensation Safety Board of Nova Scotia

Work Capabilities Definition

Transitional Duties 

Temporary changes to the worker’s job tasks that align with their functional abilities – what the worker is able to do. If the worker is unable to immediately return to their original job, providing transitional duties will help them recover, contribute to valuable work and reduce or eliminate the claims cost associated with lost time from work. 

Suitable Work 

A different job with duties within the worker’s capabilities.

Work Classifications

The following are five work classifications used to describe the amount of physical effort required to perform a task or job. These classifications are referred to on various WCB forms, and are used by healthcare providers and the WCB to assist with planning treatments and return-to-work initiatives.

SEDENTARY Work

  • Exerting up to 4.5 kg (10 lbs) of force occasionally and/or a negligible amount of force frequently.

Example: An occupation where the Worker sits most of the time, and only walks or stands for brief periods.

LIGHT Work

  • Exerting up to 9.1 kg (20 lbs) of force occasionally and/or up to 4.5 kg (10 lbs) frequently and/or negligible amounts constantly. Example: Walking or standing to a significant degree, or sitting constantly but with arm and/or leg controls with exertion of force greater than sedentary.

MEDIUM Work

  • Exerting up to 22.7 kg (50 lbs) of force occasionally and/or up to 9.1 kg (20 lbs) of force frequently and/or up to 4.5 kg (10 lbs) forces constantly.

HEAVY Work

  • Exerting up to 45.4 kg (100 lbs) of force occasionally and/or up to 22.7 kg (50 lbs) of force frequently and/or in excess of 9.1 kg (20 lbs) of force constantly.

VERY HEAVY Work

  • Exerting in excess of 45.4 kg (100 lbs) of force occasionally and/or in excess of 22.7 kg (50 lbs) of force frequently and/or in excess of 9.1 kg (20 lbs) of force constantly.

Comparison of Ability Levels

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) set standards for evaluation of Physical Demand Capacity. These are used in both the Canadian National Occupational Classification system (NOC) and the American Directory of Occupational Titles (DOT). 

Frequent Weight

  • It is estimated that the worker can safely handle this weight for up to 66% of their workday.

Occasional Weight

  • A worker’s demonstrated tolerance for occasional weight (O) is recognized as the maximum weight they are able to lift, carry, or push/pull. It is estimated that the worker can safely handle this weight for up to 33% of their workday tolerance.