If your company has a solid, science-based, EEOC compliant pre-employment physical abilities testing (PAT) program in place, chances are you've realized some important benefits since implementing that program – such as fewer on-the-job injuries, lower workers' comp costs, and better employee retention, among others. However, if you're only using PAT for pre-hire testing, you're missing out on some other benefits that testing could offer if it were used throughout the life cycle of your workers.
Physical Abilities Testing: Benefits Beyond Pre-Hire Screening
So when during the employee life cycle can physical abilities testing benefit your company, its employees, and its bottom line? There are several points during the worker life cycle where testing can pay off, including:
- Before job transfers – Employees who show strong, efficient performance in one job may struggle to produce such results in different, more challenging positions. Physical abilities testing before job transfers can determine whether or not employees’ capabilities are well-matched to the actual physical demands of new positions for which they are being considered, protecting against the risks of poor placement decisions, including workplace injuries, diminished productivity, and loss of solid, dependable workers.
- Periodic reviews of employee fitness – Time, lifestyle choices, and health issues can take a toll on fitness levels over time, so there is no guarantee that employees that have been with you for several years are still as fit and capable as they were when they passed that pre-employment PAT. Periodic physical abilities testing for all employees can help ensure that you catch any serious changes in fitness levels before they impact workplace safety.
- When fitness for duty is in question – Have you or your supervisors noticed that a long-time employee seems to be struggling to keep up with job demands lately? Perhaps you have employees who are calling in sick more often than they used to, who have been putting on quite a bit of weight, or who have had serious health issues cause them to struggle with job demands that previously weren’t a challenge. Testing these employees can give you an accurate and objective analysis of their fitness for duty.
- Post injury physical abilities testing – Testing can be very helpful in the aftermath of workplace injuries as well, helping employers and injured workers take the guesswork out of return to work decisions. Knowing just where a returning worker stands in terms of physical ability can help in planning for returns as well, making it much easier to determine whether transitional duty or work accommodation will be necessary and, if so, aid in planning duties or accommodations that will best suit the needs of the injured employee and the workplace.
As you can see from the examples above, taking your physical abilities testing beyond just a pre-employment PAT can help expand on the benefits that program yields. Not only can your PAT program help ensure that your new hires are well-matched to the physical demands of your workplace, but it can also aid in maintaining a workforce of safe, efficient, and productive employees over the long term – benefits that pay off in lower injury rates, reduced workers' comp costs, decreased employee turnover, and faster, more successful returns to work when injuries do occur.