How Pre-Employment Physical Testing Can Prevent Common Workers' Comp Claims

[fa icon="calendar'] Jun 23, 2015 9:30:00 AM / by Deborah Lechner

Workplace injuries that result in workers' comp claims can mean big costs for businesses and big worries for the injured party. So if an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, stopping injuries before they happen should be near the top of every employer’s list. Today we'll look into the most common injuries that lead to workers' comp claims, as well as how pre employment testing – especially post offer physical abilities tests – can significantly reduce the risk of these injuries occurring in your workplace in the first place.

Common Workers' Comp Claims

According to Business Insurance magazine, five common injury types are at the root of nearly two-thirds of workers comp costs.


First, overexertion injuries are, by far, the leading cause of workers' compensation claims. These are injuries related to lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, hauling or throwing. Costs stemming from these types of injuries alone totaled $15.1 billion in 2012. The remaining four injury types in the top five list are: (1) falls that don't involve falling to a lower level, (2) being struck by an object or equipment, (3) falls to a lower level, and (4) miscellaneous exertions, including injuries caused by reaching, bending, climbing, sitting, standing, and slipping or tripping without falling.1

Pre Employment Testing And Injury Reduction

Pre employment physical abilities testing (PAT) is the first line of defense in reducing the toll these common injuries take on your company's workforce. PAT programs lower your risk of incurring a workers' compensation claim to begin with, and reduce the impact of indirect costs, including  mountains of paperwork  and the  hassle and expense of hiring and/or training replacements for employees injured on the job.

In fact Pre Employment Physical Abilities Testing can decrease 59% of the leading causes of disability!

2014 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index 


Why is post offer physical abilities testing so effective? Because an objective and scientifically valid PAT program helps employers hire only those candidates who are equipped to handle the actual physical tasks and stresses of the job for which they’ve applied. A sound PAT program begins with a detailed job analysis, a quantitative assessment of the physical demands of the work to be done. Next, applicants are given an evidence-based  physical ability test based on the  results of the job analysis. Workplaces staffed by employees who have proven they have the ability to handle the physical requirements of their jobs have much lower injury rates than those that have not. In fact, research shows that consistent use of physical abilities testing can cut worker’s compensation costs by up to 60%.

Other Effective Ways To Reduce Common Workers' Comp Claims

In addition to physical abilities testing, other effective ways to reduce common workers' comp injuries include injury prevention programs, ergonomic assessments of work areas, injury prevention training for employees and post-hire physical ability testing, including both return-to-work and incumbent screening.

Aging, health problems and the deconditioning that often occurs while recovering from an injury can take a significant toll on a person's level of fitness. For example, maximal oxygen intake declines by significantly each decade from 25 years to 65 years. Strength peaks at age 25 and then plateaus from 25-40, after which there is an accelerating decline. 2   Post-hire physical abilities testing provides a way to prevent injuries before employees vie for transfers or assume  new positions. Finally, post injury follow-up, testing and treatment can offer a faster, safer return to work for employees that have been injured on the job. It can also reduce the risk of re-injury and the additional  workers' comp costs that can along with it.

Workplace injury prevention programs aren’t just another expense – they’re an investment. Not only are they a cost effective way to reduce common workers compensation claims, they should be an integral part of every organization’s hiring process.

When are Physical abilities test best performed

(1) Business Insurance magazine


Topics: Pre Employment Screening

Deborah Lechner

Written by Deborah Lechner

Deborah Lechner, ErgoScience President, combines an extensive research background with 25-plus years of clinical experience. Under her leadership, ErgoScience continues to use the science of work to improve workplace safety, productivity and profitability.