In their quest to gain collaboration among various otherwise siloed functions within an organization, safety, claims, human resources, legal, health and benefits, operations and risk management professionals may have a silver bullet in physical demands assessments (PDAs).
By their design, well-constructed PDAs can have positive and measurable impact on the continuum from hiring practices through the return-to-work process and between overlapping activities.
More importantly, PDAs can be used within an organization to support multiple objectives and activities, such as:
• Candidate hiring inquiries on essential functions
• Post-offer employment testing (POET)
• New employee and recurrent employee training
• Temporary transitional duty task identification
• Permanent restrictions and the Americans with Disability Act Amendment Act (ADAAA)interactive process
• Disability and wellness management initiatives
• Work hardening – physical and occupational therapy
• Post-incident injury analysis
• Risk-reduction strategies
• Job and task rotation
Ultimately, utilizing PDAs across the injury and safety management spectrum can improve outcomes and support initiatives that help reduce the total cost of risk (TCoR).
The implementation of an effective and sustainable PDA initiative can be structured around five key steps. The initiative begins with the creation of the PDA format and continues through a well-orchestrated process that includes evaluation using measurable goals and objectives.
Step 1: Creating a Validated PDA
By definition, and when properly implemented, PDAs provide a detailed description of job requirements including lifting, pushing, pulling, hand forces, posture data and repetitions, such as lifting 25 pounds approximately 40 times during a shift. Task frequencies may be rated according to general Department of Labor requirements, such as never, infrequent, occasional, etc.
Some employers also link task frequencies to corresponding limbs or body parts and describe skills needed to perform jobs safely. At the same time, the PDA should capture specific equipment in use when the tasks are being performed.
Together, all these elements are necessary to validate the job requirements, as well as to support ADAAA and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) compliance with actionable information in the workplace.
Step 2: Outlining Pre- and Post-Loss Initiatives
The information gathered from the PDA…