Monday, September 18, 2017

Selected Characteristics -- Important Definitions of Environmental Demands

We have two or three years left of the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and its primary companion, the Selected Characteristics of Occupations.  While we still have the DOT and its companion(s) as the first listed source of administrative notice in the Social Security disability context, we need to focus on the information available.

Over the weekend, we looked at physical demands that may not be obvious or are either counter-intuitive or opaque.  We can't frame a vocationally relevant language or understand the dialogue of between the ALJ and the VE if we don't speak their language.  We continue with the SCO Appendix D - environmental demands.  Six of the first seven come up frequently in ALJ hypothetical questions.
1.  Exposure to Weather -- the person works outside.  
Claimants that have sunlight sensitivity would look to exposure to weather as suggesting exposure to sunlight.
2.  Extreme Cold -- not weather related.
3.  Extreme Heat -- not weather related. 
Heat and cold have nothing to do with work in Arizona or Alaska.  They involve ovens and freezers.
4.  Wet and/or Humid --water, liquids, or non-weather humidity.  
Work environments that involve steam come to mind.  Cooking involves water and boiling, which create humidity.
5.  Noise Intensity Level --  noise exposure.
          3.  Moderate -- business offices, grocery stores, light traffic, and fast food restaurants at off-hours.  
 Most work environments are at least moderately noisy.  Libraries are quiet and deep sea diving are quiet and very quiet.
7.  Atmospheric Conditions -- fumes, noxious odors, dusts, mists, gases, and poor ventilation.  
Not obvious but atmospheric conditions address pulmonary and eye irritants.

The next seven environmental conditions address dangerous work environments.  ALJ's bring these up in hypothetical questions frequently.  But they rarely provide any fruitful source of examination.  There just aren't a lot of unskilled jobs that involve danger.

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