Pre Employment Physical Testing: What Skills are You Looking For?

[fa icon="calendar'] Aug 4, 2015 8:00:00 AM / by Deborah Lechner

If you are an employer operating in a physically demanding industry, keeping a full, reliable workforce isn't easy. Jobs that demand a certain level of strength, agility, coordination, and endurance often have both high injury and high turnover rates. This is largely due to new employees that don't stay long, having underestimated the demands of the job or overestimated their capability for meeting them, causing them to quit in frustration or leave the workforce due to injury.

You may be searching for a better way to evaluate potential new hires for these demanding jobs rather than taking your best guess on their abilities based on work history. This is where pre employment testing can help. By building a physical ability test program around the specific physical abilities these jobs require, whether you need health care workers who can safely lift people, construction workers who can hoist hefty materials up a ladder, or assembly line workers who can hold up to the stress of repetitive tasks, you can greatly increase your odds of hiring people capable of becoming long-term assets to your company.

About Physical Ability Testing

This type of pre employment testing offers employers the opportunity to test the ability of potential new hires to perform the essential functions of the specific job they are offering safely and reliably. The process begins with a detailed, ADA-compliant job analysis, which objectively quantifies the physical demands placed on workers in fulfilling that role, measuring factors like the need to lift, push, pull, climb, bend, twist, and carry, along with the frequency and intensity of these activities during the average work day. Environmental factors are also generally included in the job analysis, evaluating the space the employee will be working in, including any exposure to the elements, extreme temperatures, or elevated surfaces, among other factors that may contribute to the level of daily physical strain an employee will encounter.

This information is then used to design a physical ability test for potential employees that is true to the actual demands that will be placed on them in the workplace. Not only does this specificity ensure that testing is compliant with ADA employment testing standards, so long as testing is done after a conditional offer of employment has been extended, but it also allows an accurate and objective evaluation of each potential new employee. This gives employers the opportunity to avoid hiring those who are wrong for the job in favor of people who have proven they possess the skills and abilities necessary for safe, effective, and productive performance in the workplace.

The Impact of Pre Employment Testing

So how much impact can a well-designed post offer physical ability test have on your workplace? In an article published by Princeton University, a case study was outlined to demonstrate the effectiveness of post offer physical ability screening on post hire injury rates. The study involved 220 employees. Half of these employees passed a physical ability test before job placement and half were not tested.

After 4 years of observation, injury rates were substantially lower in group that participated in pre employment testing, with one injured employee as opposed to 23 in the untested group, and injury costs in the screened group were reported at $6,500, as compared to $2,073,000 in costs for the unscreened group. These dramatically reduced injury rates and costs among employees who passed a pre employment physical ability test shows the worth of these tests in helping employers select employees who are well suited to the demands of the job – employees who are most likely to thrive in challenging work environments over the long-run.



When are Physical abilities test best performed

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.