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Why Fit For Duty Evaluations Are An Important Part of Employee Hiring

Picture this – your company has hired the right fit for the job. The candidate is physically active and has the experience you’re looking for. But three weeks into it, they throw their back out at work. Turns out they injured their spine while roofing three months ago. Now your company is paying for their disability leave and hiring and training a replacement. Sound familiar? It doesn’t have to. This situation is preventable. A fit for duty evaluation helps your company determine if your candidate suffers from a pre-existing injury, medical condition, or acute condition that could affect their job performance. The evaluation also helps determine if your candidate meets the essential physical requirements of the job.

How does a fit for duty evaluation ensure I’m hiring the right candidate?

The fit for duty evaluation can be made up of three parts: an occupational medical examination, physical abilities testing, and drug and alcohol testing.

1. Occupational Medical Examinations

These identify medical issues before they become costly. Being aware of pre-existing conditions and/or risk factors will prevent confusion around responsibility in the event of an incident or illness, and will help lower your workers’ compensation and general disability claims. For instance, if the company above had its candidate undergo an exam as a condition of hire, the back assessment portion of that exam may have detected the problem with his spine. The exam can also identify other issues or limitations you should be aware of.

2. Physical Abilities Testing

If the job you are hiring for requires physically demanding work, you will also want to have your candidate complete a physical abilities test. First, the bona fide demands of the job (Physical Demands Analysis) need to be reviewed to make sure it reflects only the most demanding physical tasks that will be performed. Then, a Physical Abilities Test (PAT) protocol is designed to reflect the PDA. Afterwards, the candidate goes through the actual test to determine if they are physically able to do the job. (Occupational medical examinations and physical abilities testing can also be done to determine medical fitness after an illness or injury, or as a condition of a job transfer.)

3. Drug and Alcohol Testing

This testing helps determine if your candidate poses a safety risk and if there are issues around drug and/or alcohol use, misuse, or abuse. A fit for duty evaluation will give you more confidence that you are hiring the right candidate and it will identify their potential limitations. If you want to know more about what your fit for duty evaluation should include, get in touch with us. We offer customized occupational medical examinations, physical demands analyses creation and review, development of testing protocols, and physical abilities testing. We can help minimize the risk of injuries and illnesses at your workplace, and prevent you from paying unnecessarily for disability or sick leave. Facts:

  • In 2010, one in every 68 employed workers was injured or harmed on the job and received workers compensation as a result.
  • In 2008, men experienced a higher rate of work-related injury (18.8 cases per 1,000 men) than did women (11.2 cases per 1,000 women).
  • In 2008, those working in construction had the highest rate of injury at 24.5 cases per 1,000 employees.

Source: HRSDC calculations based on data from Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada. Available from: Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (cited July 2012); and Statistics Canada. Labour force survey estimates (LFS), by sex and detailed age group, annual (CANSIM Table 282-0002). Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2011.