Pre-hire physical abilities testing (PAT) is becoming increasingly common as employers seek to ensure that their employees have the physical capabilities to safely and effectively perform the essential functions of the job. Physical therapists play an integral role in pre-hire PAT as they have the functional movement training and assessment skills to properly assess the tasks performed during testing. Most physical therapy clinics are already set up to be able to perform the various tasks included in most PATs.
The specific tests that are administered will vary depending on the specific job duties that are typically identified during a Job Demands Analysis (JDA) performed at the job site. They may include:
Lifting and carrying: Workers are often required to lift and carry heavy materials, so it is important to assess their strength and endurance in these areas. Tests may involve lifting and carrying weights of various sizes and distances.
Pushing and pulling: Employees may also need to push and pull equipment or apply forces in pushing and pulling motions. Tests may involve pushing and pulling weights or objects of various sizes and resistances on a sled or with a pulley system in the clinic.
Balance: Even though it’s not the first thing you might think of, most jobs require at least adequate balance. They need to be able to maintain their balance when working on uneven terrain or while performing climbing tasks. Tests may involve standing on one leg, balancing on a balance beam, or walking on a narrow beam.
Climbing: Many physically demanding jobs require climbing, either in the form of ladders and stairs, or into and out of vehicles, heavy equipment, or forklifts. This is typically performed with a ladder in the clinic, going up and down a specific number of rungs that matches the activity on the job site.
The purpose of pre-hire physical abilities testing is to protect the safety of both the employee and the company they work for. By ensuring that potential hires have the necessary physical capabilities, employers can help to prevent injuries and ensure that workers return home in the same shape they arrived in.]
When physical abilities testing is designed and performed properly, they are legally defensible and can be a nice source of income for your clinic. If you’re interested in performing physical ability testing in your clinic, but don’t have the time to perform detailed JDAs or set up job-specific testing protocols, ErgoScience would love to partner with you! We can send our job analyst to perform each JDA (often there are multiple), then our team designs a test for each specific job that is ADA and EEOC-compliant. The tests are housed in our WebPortal, and results are stored there indefinitely, so you never have to worry about keeping track of paperwork or losing test results.
Contact ErgoScience today for more information!