Hire Smarter: How To Create A Pre Employment Physical Program

Hire Smarter: How To Create A Pre Employment Physical Program

Implementing pre-employment physicals, sometimes referred to as, post-offer employment testing, causes many HR Managers and CFOs real anxiety. There is a logical reason for this.

Over the past 60 years, a wealth of legal issues has risen from attempts to limit worker-related injuries. From the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination Act of 1967, to the Americans with Disability Act of 1992, and numerous Case Law instances, it leaves one a little leery of opening themselves up to a costly lawsuit. For this very reason, many employers never venture into the world of pre-employment physicals.

Poorly designed and improperly implemented testing can indeed lead to very serious legal trouble.

When testing is performed correctly the benefits to a company are quite significant and the legal risk is negligible. 

In my last post, I outlined the reasons why a pre-employment physical is a smart move. In this post, I want to layout how you can simply implement them into your company and see real results. 

Here are the most important things to consider when implementing this type of testing in your company.

Select a partner that understands the law and works within the parameters that the law provides. 

The legal guidelines are meant to prevent undue hardship on any group of individuals being tested. In other words, making sure the testing does not discriminate based on gender, race, age, etc. The correct partner should know and understand the law as it applies to post-offer employment testing.


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The right partner should design testing to assure the test replicates the job.

Tests should be as close as possible to the real job. Simply testing to see if someone can lift 50 pounds does not adequately test to see if an individual can perform a lift safely using the same environment or tools that they would have on the job site. 

The right test uses real objects or equipment that they would encounter on the job. Not only should tests utilize the same equipment, but they should also replicate the frequency and physical demands very closely. This is imperative to avoid litigation and provides defensible tests. 

For this reason, a reputable partner would insist on performing a detailed Job Demands Analysis. A proper JDA entails recording and documenting actual job performance. This would include actual weights of items lifted, heights that objects are lifted to and from as well as distances items are carried. The actual time spent lifting, carrying, walking, and climbing is documented and used to create the test. I cannot stress enough the importance of this step. 

Tests should never be created simply from reading a job description. Any post-offer employment testing created in this manner is fraught with danger. 

The best partner should provide validity studies.

These studies assure that once a test has been developed that the test does not create an adverse impact on any group. Even though a test is properly designed there could still be an impact not readily seen until validity studies are performed.  Insist that these studies are done before full implementation. 

A real partner continues to work with you.

Even after all of the development, studies and implementation are correctly done, continued assessment and reporting of results should be reviewed on an annual basis. This ensures that you are achieving the results you are seeking. It also ensures that as your company adapts and improves job demands that your testing adapts with you to ensure proper and defensible testing is being performed. 

This post may not have lessened the anxiety around employment testing, but I hope it increases understanding of the essential aspects of a successful physical ability testing program as well as the essential qualities to look for in a partner who will create and implement this beneficial program. 

Do your homework to find a certified partner that specializes in performing this type of testing. Partners with a depth of experience are quite cost-effective when considering the return on investment from post-offer employment testing and the ability to avoid costly litigation.