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Frequently Asked Questions

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How do I decide which MSD program to implement?

 The best way to determine which MSD prevention program is best is to look at your injury data. Find out which type of injuries are most prevalent and which jobs are causing them.   Also, determine whether they are occurring in new hires, tenured workers, or both. 

How do I know if the program(s) I implement are successful?

Examine your injury rates and costs before and after implementing the program(s).  It’s usually best to give the program 6-9 months before trying to examine outcomes. 


Is pre-hire/post-offer Physical Abilities Testing legal?

It depends…on how you develop and implement testing. Testing must be job-specific, supported by published research, and administered consistently for a given job.   

How does ErgoScience ensure consistency of testing across multiple testing location?

Our testing is conducted using an online testing application where all testing parameters, scoring, and verbal instructions are maintained. The clinician doing the test uses that online app to conduct the test, so there’s no confusion about how it should be administered and scored. Each test administrator is trained and certified in ErgoScience’s testing protocols and scoring before they are allowed to conduct testing. 

When in the hiring process is it best to do a pre-hire Physical Abilities test?

The test is best conducted after an offer of conditional employment (contingent upon passing the pre-hire PAT) is made. 

What's the typical turn-around time for an ErgoScience pre-hire test?

From the time the test is requested to the time test results are ready is typically 2-3 days total.  Thanks to our online testing application, the test results are ready as soon as the applicant completes the testing.   

How long does it take for a job applicant to go through a pre-hire test?

Most tests take from 30-45 minutes.  Longer tests are available upon request. 

What happens when a job applicant fails a pre-hire test?

The employer can rescind the offer, place the applicant in a less physically demanding job, or provide a new-hire “Ramp-In” program (see below). 

Where is testing conducted?

Testing can be conducted onsite or at a nearby clinic, depending on the hiring volume?  

Who can conduct the test?

The test is best conducted by a physical or occupational therapist, a PTA or COTA, an athletic trainer, or someone with an exercise science degree. On some occasions, RNs or Physicians have been trained.   

Do I have to make accommodations for every one that fails?

No. Employers only have to make accommodations for those who are claiming a disability and then fail the test.  And any accommodations have to be “reasonable” and not present an “undue hardship” to an employer.  

What if women fail the test at a higher rate than men?

If women fail the test at a significantly higher rate than men, it is considered to create an adverse impact on women. But such testing is still legal as long as the test is job-related and of business necessity. 

Why does ErgoScience include balance testing on some of its PATs?

If maintaining balance while walking on uneven surfaces, stepping over objects, or climbing stairs, ladders, or on/off equipment is required for the job, ErgoScience recommends testing balance. We have found that doing so greatly reduces the number of slips, trips, and falls.  

Job Analysis

Is it really necessary to do job analysis before developing pre-hire Physical Abilities Testing?

Job Analysis is the foundation of legally defensible PATs. If challenged, employers must be able to show that the test matches job requirements. ErgoScience highly recommends performing job analysis on every job for which testing is developed. 

How long does job analysis take?

It depends on the variability and repetitiveness of the job’s tasks.  Highly repetitive jobs take less time to analyze – roughly 30 – 45 minutes. While jobs that are not repetitive, like maintenance mechanics, may take up to 4-6 hours to analyze because each individual job task takes a long time to complete.  

What should I expect to see in an ErgoScience job analysis report?

The typical key areas include; a list of the job tasks, environmental conditions, PPE, tools, and equipment used, the percent of the day spent in various physical demands, weights handled, forces exerted, and the heights and distances over which these weights and forces are handled. The report should also indicate the balance, coordination, and dexterity requirements of the job. 

Besides being used for developing PATs, what other ways can I use a job analysis?

Job analysis reports can be provided to treating physicians so that they know the job requirements of the patient they are treating. They can be incorporated into job descriptions. 

Ramp-in Programs

What is a Ramp-In Program?

A Ramp-In Program typically includes training employees to perform their jobs using ergonomic best work practices. Employees can also acclimate to the physical requirements of their jobs during a Ramp-In program, increasing their strength and endurance.  

Who is a Ramp-In program for?

Ramp-In Programs can be used with newly hired employees or employees who are returning to work after an illness or injury.  

What does it entail?

Ramp-In Programs vary according to what the employer wants to include.  Most include training in ergonomic best work practices.  Depending on company resources, they can also include strengthening, stretching, and cardiovascular endurance training. 

How long does the typical Ramp-In Program last?

It depends on what is included in the program. Ergonomic training programs typically last 1-2 days. While programs that include strengthening and cardiovascular endurance training can last 2-3 weeks.   

Ergonomic Assessments

What’s the difference between ergonomic assessment and job analysis?

Job analysis identifies the physical requirements of the job. Ergonomic assessments identify the hazardous aspects of the job and offer recommendations regarding countermeasures that reduce or eliminate the hazard. 

Can the two assessments be done at the same time?

Yes, but they require two different types of assessment tools.  

Once we know a job task is hazardous, what do we do?

Solutions range from using PPE and doing training to making engineering changes. ErgoScience ergonomic assessments include a variety of options so that employers have choices about what types of changes they want to make.  

MSD Early Intervention Programs

Does an Early Intervention Program for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) increase OSHA recordable injuries?

Not if they are done following OSHA’s definition of “First Aid.” 

What are the OSHA-sanctioned “First Aid” interventions?

Heat and cold, massage, non-rigid supports. 

Who typically participates in an Early Intervention Program for MSDs?

Typically it’s employees who are experiencing any early symptoms of discomfort.   

Can participants in early Intervention Programs be taught exercises for their area of discomfort?

No. OSHA considers exercise to be a medical intervention. So teaching exercises for the area of discomfort will turn it into an OSHA recordable.  


When can I conduct a Fitness-for-Duty Test on a current employee?

Fitness-for-Duty Tests can be conducted if a supervisor notices that an employee is struggling with the physical requirements of the job. It can also be used if the employee is complaining that the physical requirements of the job are too difficult. Many employers use Fitness-for-Duty testing when an employee has had an extended absence from work due to an injury, illness, or surgery.   

How is it different from a pre-hire test?

It’s often the exact same test as the pre-hire test, depending on the extent of the injury.   

Employee Training

What kind of employee training does ErgoScience conduct?

Typically we are training employees in the best ergonomic work practices in order to minimize the stress on their bodies. We teach body mechanics and positioning, and lifting techniques.   

How is training delivered?

Training can be delivered onsite or online.  Our preference is to deliver onsite training that includes field feedback for employees.  We also do train-the-trainer programs. 

Return-to-Work Services

What types of Return-to-Work Services does ErgoScience offer?

Depending on what the employer wants, we offer Return-to-Work/Fitness-for-Duty Testing, work conditioning programs, temporary light duty programs, and employee education in ergonomic best work practices. 

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