Physical Ability Testing
Containing the everyday costs of doing business is central to the profitability of any company, no matter what industry you're in. Well-run organizations project the potential return on investment for each cost reduction strategy that they are considering. For employers with physically demanding jobs, a budget line item that often gets attention is the one associated with workers' compensation expense. A variety of well-known approaches to reducing that expense exist, ranging from safety and training programs to claims management.
What is Pre- Employment Physical Ability Testing?
A lesser known approach to reducing workers' comp expenses is pre employment physical abilities testing, which, when properly designed and integrated into the hiring process, is highly cost-effective. Pre employment physical abilities testing provides employers with a tool to objectively evaluate the physical capabilities of potential new hires to ensure that they are well-matched to the physical demands of the job. The goal of matching workers' abilities to job requirements is to reduce the number of workplace injuries, as well as the costs associated with them – both direct (medical costs and indemnity payments) and indirect expenses (lost work time and productivity).
Is there research behind PAT?
A study conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago supports the claim that pre hire physical abilities testing creates a significant return on investment. This study was performed to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of a pre work, post offer physical ability testing program developed by the university's Occupational and Physical Therapy departments. After analyzing their jobs and developing and implementing a physical abilities testing program, researchers analyzed changes in workers' compensation costs over three years prior to and after the implementation of physical abilities testing. Differences in injury rates and mean cost per injury for these two periods of three years – before and after testing – were also compared.
The results of the comparison were as follows:
- A decline in the number of workplace injuries in tested employees as compared to untested employees
- Dramatic declines in the total costs and mean costs per injury case in the three-year period following implementation of physical abilities testing
- An overall cost savings of $18 for every $1 spent on the testing program – savings that were calculated by comparing the costs of the program to the resulting reduction in workers' compensation costs
This independently published study shows that pre hire physical abilities testing can produce an outstanding return for companies that implement it effectively. While your results may vary, responsible professionals in the field of physical abilities testing can help you project your potential return on investment prior to initiation of any project based on:
- Your previous workers' compensation costs
- Their own track record of results realized with previous clients
- The number of new hires you anticipate
- The number of jobs for which you plan to test
With these objective projections, you can proceed with confidence knowing the type of results to expect from your pre-hire physical abilities testing program.