Pre Employment Screening for Workplace Safety: Staying on the Safe Side of the Law

[fa icon="calendar'] Jun 26, 2015 8:00:00 AM / by Deborah Lechner

Given the human and financial costs of work-related injuries, preventing injuries and workplace safety is a big deal for any employer. However, for employers in industries that place particularly heavy physical demands on workers, those concerns are vital. Workers in more physically stressful jobs – heathcare, warehousing, utilities, oil and gas production, law enforcement or construction, for instance – are, by nature of their jobs, at higher risk for injuries than the average employee. This, of course, places their employers at greater risk of facing the financial and legal consequences for those injuries. 

Pre employment Physical Abilities Testing can help reduce these risks for workers and the companies that employ them.  However, if not performed in a manner that is in compliance with the ADA, EEOC and OFCCP, these tests can create legal consequences.

About Pre Employment Screening for Workplace Safety

When jobs have tough physical challenges, requiring a certain level of fitness, strength, and agility to perform, using pre employment Physical Abilities Testing to evaluate potential new hires is wise. This form of testing offers employers the ability to objectively evaluate candidates' physical performance as they manage tasks or functions that will be expected of them in these jobs. This testing enables sound hiring decisions by ensuring that prospective new hires are well-matched to their positions in terms of physical capabilities, able to perform safely and efficiently in the workplace.

Since employees who have proven their physical capability to handle their jobs before setting foot in the workplace are at lower risk of injury, Physical Abilities Testing increases workplace safety. This testing, in turn, reduces workers' compensation costs, since a safer workplace means fewer injury claims, and fewer claims means lower workers' compensation expenses.

Physical Abilities Testing and Staying on the Safe Side of the Law

If your company is considering physical abilities testing as part of your pre employment screening process, there are a few things you need to know about compliance issues as well. First, physical ability tests cannot be used as a general screening mechanism for  all applicants. Rather, they should only be administered as a post offer screening tool for serious job candidates. According to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines, an employer may only request examinations that are medical in nature after a conditional offer of employment has been extended to an employee.  The sequence of the test is important, because most thorough, effective physical abilities tests do have aspects that are considered to be medical testing under federal employment regulations.

Additionally, physical abilities testing must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To be in compliance, testing cannot be comprised of general strength, agility or endurance testing. Rather, testing must directly correlate with the specific physical demands of the position for which a candidate has applied. Testing must also be consistently applied. In other words, employers who employ post offer Physical Abilities Testing for a specific job cannot pick and choose which candidates to test; they must test all candidates to whom they have made a conditional offer of employment.

These regulations are meant to ensure that applicants with disabilities and applicants who belong to a protected class of individuals, for example, are not screened out without an opportunity to prove themselves capable of meeting the requirements of the job in question. Should properly conducted EEOC and ADA compliant physical abilities testing show that a prospective employee is unable to meet the physical demands of the job, the conditional offer of employment can be rescinded.

The Bottom Line?

Employers can use post offer pre employment screening to increase overall workplace safety. They just need to be sure that their testing programs are in line with federal regulations. This is most easily done by choosing a reputable, experienced pre employment testing provider who offers programs customized to the specific needs, demands and conditions present in each workplace.

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.