I was asked to assess an individual who I will refer to as Tony. He had sustained a back injury while on the job. During the evaluation, I became aware of a previous injury that had resulted in permanent damage to this employee’s spine. The previous injury had actually occurred a couple of years before Tony began employment at his current position but seriously limited his ability to perform heavy lifting. Ironically, Tony was hired for a position that required moderate to heavy lifting every day. So here he is, placed in a position with job requirements that he cannot sustain. The employer has invested significant time and resources to hire, train, and manage Tony who is significantly compromised. The long-term prognosis for success for both the employee and the employer is bleak. It is a no-win situation for both. The frustrating part of the story is that it was most likely preventable.
What is Post Offer Employment Testing?
For the majority of physical labor jobs, Post Offer Employment Testing (POET) is a very successful means of avoiding the situation described above. POETs are designed to test an individual’s physical capacity to perform the essential functions of a job.
POETs are functional assessments and can provide a means for assessing if the candidate can perform the job, and also that the candidate does not have a medical condition that may be aggravated or worsen with placement into the specific position.
In the case of Tony, a properly designed POET most likely would have identified his inability to perform moderate to heavy lifting as frequently as the position required. This would have allowed the employer to either make necessary accommodations if possible or place Tony in a different position within the company. If neither of these was reasonable the employer could rescind the offer of employment based on Tony’s inability to perform the essential functions of the job. For Tony, he probably could have avoided a second injury by being placed in a more appropriate position and avoided the issues surrounding an at-work injury.
Over the past 60 years, there have been several legal precedents to provide protection to employees and employers. Starting with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and continuing to the Americans with Disabilities Act, many regulations have been enacted to provide fair and equitable treatment of the citizens of our country. Many of these have positively impacted the safety and fairness of hiring and testing practices.
The summation of these practices has resulted in the development of quality POETs which provide a safety net for employees and employers.
Post-Offer Employment Testing (POET) Benefits
Obviously, the benefits of well-designed POETs for the employee include increased workplace health and safety and improved alignment of the employee’s physical abilities with the job requirements. The harmonious blend of these should provide an employee with longevity and success in the job.
For employers, the benefits are just as beneficial. A great deal of time and resources are spent in attracting, hiring and maintaining a healthy and productive workforce. In one study it was determined that for companies of 0-500 EE the average cost to hire is over $7500!
This doesn’t even begin to extrapolate the costs associated with on-the-job injuries such as medical bills, increased workers compensation premiums, potential OSHA fines and replacing a potential lost employee for another $7500.
The real benefits of deploying POETs in your company are tangible. POETs have been shown to significantly decrease the frequency of lost days and the incurred medical costs. Injury rates for groups that utilize POETs have been measured at 1% as compared to 23% for those that were not tested.
In another study injury rates for new hires that failed a POET was 98 per 200,000 work hours as compared to new hires who passed the POET that had an injury rate of 52 per 200,000 work hours.
The bottom line is this: POETs are extremely effective in proper placement and avoiding costly issues for both employees and employers. In the current climate, each and every dollar spent needs to be done so wisely, whether that is in an employee’s personal budget or that of your company.
Luckily for Tony, his acute back injury wasn’t too serious and healed rapidly due to timely onsite therapy intervention. He was also able to find a more appropriate job without too much hassle. For his employer, they avoided a serious recordable injury but, finding a replacement and the cost of hiring and training continues to add up. The employer has now decided to invest in implementing a POET program to try and avoid these situations in the future.
If you are interested in seeing how POETs and onsite therapy services can help you attain new heights for your employees and your company, contact us.