April 2016 Newsletter:
Physical Testing for New Employees - Key Tips

Companies aim to ensure that the employees they hire are capable of completing the various elements of the job. However, simply reviewing someone's resume or job application may not demonstrate what a person is physically capable of doing. Instead, a resume demonstrates a person's interpersonal, problem solving, or management skills, leaving questions as to those physical capabilities. As a result, some companies have decided to implement a physical testing screen as part of the hiring process to help ensure that the individuals being hired are capable of performing all elements of the job, in a safe and healthy manner.

Key Components to a Successful Physical Screening Program

  1. Start with objectively documented job requirements
    Developing a testing process needs to be based on objective documentation of the physical requirements of a job. As a result, it is important to start with a highly-detailed physical demands analysis (PDA). This document will objectively describe the job's essential job duties. This includes documentation on all manual material handling tasks (including weights/forces and the frequencies with which they are performed). It also will describe the postural demands associated with the tasks, again using objectively documented frequencies of the movements and the approximate ranges of motion required.
  2. Remember, this is not a physical fitness test
    When designing a physical screening test, the aim should be to develop a test that simulates and mimics the bona fide essential duties of a job, as outlined per the PDA. A prescreening test, ideally, does not have the applicant doing a series of squats and lunges to assess their ability to lift repeatedly or climb stairs so many times per shift. If for instance the job duty asks the employee to lift a 10-pound box to 60-inch high shelf 15 times per day, how does repetitive squats accurately assess one's ability to do this? Instead, have the applicant actually lift a 10-pound box to a 60-inch shelf, 10-15 times, monitoring heart rate and mechanics for safety purposes. This would more accurately measure one's physical capabilities and assess whether the applicant can physically perform the job, without increasing risk of injury.
  3. Remain impartial
    As an employer, it is important to keep your distance from the physical screening processes. In order to protect our clients and ensure applicants' private and confidential information is kept intact, we recommend having a third party company conduct the actual testing. Realistically, the company is solely asking whether someone is actually capable of completing the essential duties of the job, not by how much or how little. Therefore, so long as they gain an understanding of whether the applicant can or cannot do the job is really all that is required and can be accomplished through a simple letter to the company from a third party.

Implementing a successful hiring program is important for both the employer and the potential employee. For the potential employee, it will assist in minimizing the likelihood of injuries from occurring on the job; while for the employer, it means protecting against workplace injury costs, reduces employee turnover, and can assist with improving workplace productivity.

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