The demands and requirements for our jobs are not only recommendations made by our superiors, but the basis for our day-to-day functionality.  Physically demanding jobs are definitive in this area as it is very clear whether an employee is capable of handling the tasks that are required of them.  The benefits of testing future employee’s physical performance after offering them a position at your company will not only help them know what to expect while on the job, but define which employees having the physical capabilities to perform their job.

Post-Offer Employment Testing

          When implementing post-offer employment testing, an examination should create a small-scale version of the average workday for an employee.  The test should include the essential tasks they would have to perform, the amount of times they would repeat those tasks in a given shift, the approved and safe ways to perform those tasks, and the amount of time it takes to perform each task.   They should also be exposed to the environments in which they would work to properly grasp the exertion level as performing physical labor indoors varies greatly from performing physical labor outdoors.  Additionally, tests should be created and administered by those who are most familiar with all the essential functions of the job.  Tests should be tailored to specific job categories.  Making this type of testing available to future employees not only helps to ensure that employers are hiring applicable workers, but helps employees know what to expect and whether or not they feel they are suited for the job. 

Decrease in Injuries

          By allowing future employees to see and perform their day-to-day job functionality, you can also expose them to the proper forms and techniques they will be expected to use.  Doing so has proven to decrease work-related injuries and workers’ compensation claims.  A 2011 study published in the journal Work found that requiring post-offer employment testing resulted in an overall decrease in shoulder injures and a 37% decrease in shoulder-related medical costs.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median days away from work to recover from workplace-related musculoskeletal injuries is 12 days and the World Health Organization says these types of injuries account for the greatest proportion of lost productivity in the workplace. Implementing this type of testing reduces the amount of workers’ compensation injury claims as well as the reducing the amount of time employees stay off the job.  It can even help to catch previous injuries employees might have acquired on another job.

Staying Compliant

Conducting these tests consistently and fairly is the only way to ensure there are no compliance issues.  Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the ADA), an employer is allowed to ask disability-related questions and require examinations of this type of an applicant after they have been extended a conditional job offer.  However, they must be the same types of tests for all the same types of applicants.  All tests must be functionally based and test essential job duties.  If there is an applicant who is unable to perform a task, but can perform that task with accommodations, this must be considered.  Sometimes there are reasonable accommodations, sometimes there are not, but all options must be considered in these circumstances to remain in compliance.  If possible, tests should also involve the actual equipment a worker will be using to strengthen the validity of all testing.  Consider using outside resources and independent companies to assist with testing and legal standards.

Remedial and Return to Work Programs

          Providing they are done on an equivalent basis; these tests can be used as a baseline annually to help employees find areas they may need help in or to assess if injured employees are prepared to return to work.  If an employee fails any portion of the test, there can be a separate program to help them improve their strength to be able to proficiently perform that task again.  Additionally, if an employee has been injured on the job and cleared by a medical professional to come back to work, you can use these tests to identify if an employee still has the strength to perform certain jobs, or if they need some strength training before becoming fully functional again.  This can also help employees to prevent a repetitive injury if they are regaining strength over time as opposed to performing at top levels right away.  Employees should continuously assess their own strength as well in order to prevent injury and remain efficient in their duties.

Sources:

Business Insurance Journal

Work

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

World Health Organization

Americans with Disabilities Act

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission