Why Pre-hire Physical Abilities Testing
Is Critical For the Food Processing Industry

Food processing is big business, whether it be animal slaughtering and processing, fishing, grain milling, sugar manufacturing, or fruit and vegetable preserving. All of these areas have something in common: lots of injuries! 

Man and woman in food processing plant standing in front of machines

Prevealence of Injuries
in Food Processing

According to BLS statistics, food industry workers had 60 percent higher rate of occupational illness and injury than workers in non-food industries and a lost-time injury rate more than twice as high. A study done by National Employment Law Project found that the poultry industry as a whole has the 12th highest number of severe injuries of all industries reporting ranking above, auto, steel and other high-hazard industries 

Factory worker cutting up raw chicken

Nature of the Work

When we think of high-risk jobs, or those likely to cause injury, often we think of jobs with heavy lifting, pushing or pulling. But just because a particular task isn’t heavy, doesn’t make it low-risk. In a plant we observed recently, one job in particular had the employee performing the same activity over 40,000 repetitions per day. You read that correctly: 40,000 times per day!
Combine that with often awkward movements to get product into or out of processing equipment, and you have a recipe for disaster! And because many food processing facilities are production line oriented, a bottleneck at one position can negatively impact production for the whole facility.


Want to see how PAT gives ROI?

Effect on KPIs

The average strain/sprain or slip/trip/fall costs $40K, in direct costs alone, per lost time work comp case.  And beyond the direct medical and indemnity costs, how do these injuries affect your organization’s KPIs? Decreased yield and throughput, increased cycle time, and increased downtime all drag down overall production and ultimately decrease revenue.

ErgoScience has the proof

As an expert with testing in the food production industry, ErgoScience has data that proves what we do works.  Take a look the following example.  

In research published by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, employees of a large food production plant who passed a pre-hire PAT had a 3 percent incidence of low back injuries as opposed to 33 percent in untested workers – a 90% improvement as compared to those not tested.

Bar graph showing injury rates in food production with and without PAT

ErgoScience has a track record of success in the food processing industry.  ErgoScience tested 2,774 job applicants in two locations of a large meat processing company over a 2-yr period. 

Before testing, work comp costs for hand, wrist and finger repetitive trauma, was nearly $700K/year.  In the two years following testing, the cost for these same injuries had reduced to $65K/year – a 90% decrease in costs! 

Additionally, the number of lost time injuries decreased 63%! 

The company’s ROI (after program costs were deducted) was 6:1 – for every dollar spent, $6 was saved!

Common Questions

How does pre-hire Physical Abilities Testing help?

Pre-hire PAT helps you select individuals who are capable of safely performing the physical requirements of the jobs and avoid hiring injuries waiting to happen.  You wouldn’t hire an accountant who didn’t have the proper training and credentials, would you?  So why would you hire someone to do physically demanding work, who doesn’t have the strength, stamina, flexibility or balance to do it?  It’s only a matter of time before these individuals experience a strain, sprain, repetitive injury or a fall. 

When you have a physically capable workforce, work related injuries and their associated costs decrease.  You have fewer lost and restricted duty days. Productivity and efficiency measures increase. Turnover decreases. And millions of dollars in injury costs are avoided.

How is testing developed and implemented?

Testing has to be job-specific in order to comply with ADA and EEOC.  So, it’s important to have an outside consultant analyze the physical requirements of the job. From that analysis, those same consultants can develop job-specific tests. You have a choice – your tests can be administered at your workplace or in a nearby clinic.  You make a conditional offer of employment.  The test is performed.  If the candidate passes the test, you proceed to hire.  If the candidate fails, the offer can be rescinded.  Alternatively, the test can be used to place candidates into a variety of jobs.  

What will the test look like?

For trucking and transportation jobs, the test will include elements that mimic the job. This likely consists of:

  • Materials handling: lifting and pushing and pulling are often the most difficult parts of the driver’s job.  It’s often important to test a variety of types of lifts as different muscles are used for different types of lifting.  
  • Mobility: the ability to squat, bend, twist, crawl are all requisite for many driver positions.
  • Balance: climbing in and out of the cab, as well as on and off the trailer, especially when this may be performed in slippery conditions, is mandatory for all driver positions.

How do you know if the testing is working?

One of the most common problems we see with testing programs is that once the program is established, no one monitors the outcomes.  Does the testing program lower injuries, costs, lost and restricted duty days?  Your company will never know unless you collaborate with your testing provider to do a before and after analysis.  Your testing provider should be able to walk you through a simple analysis to determine this.  

We Can't Wait to Get to Know You!

Contact Us Today!

Let's Get Started Today

So Why Delay?

Each day you wait, precious money is being flushed away, and it’s so easy to start saving. Contact ErgoScience today to see how we can partner with you to protect your drivers and protect your bottom line.

Our goal is to help people in the best way possible. this is a basic principle in every case and cause for success. contact us today for a free consultation.