The Technical Assistance Manual on the Employment Provisions (Title 1) of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which became law in 1990, provides clear guidelines to employers regarding the use of medical examinations and non-discriminatory hiring practices of new employees. But what do the EEOC and ADA say about the use of medical examinations with current, existing employees?
Ensuring each candidate for a job is physically up
to the task is on the mind of hiring managers everywhere. Physical Ability Testing (PAT) is the single best way to make sure this happens. Without it, you’re gambling with your schedule, your commitments, and your money.
Under EEOC rules about physical testing, when physical ability tests are to be used by employers, a job analysis must be performed to make sure that the physical demands of a given job are clearly and precisely understood. The test must then be designed to correspond to those demands. When the test is based on a valid physical demands analysis of the essential functions of the job, they are much less likely to be challenged by the agency as discriminatory against women, or any other group protected under the Civil Rights Act.
Post-offer employment testing, also known as physical abilities testing, gives employers the ability to ensure candidates are physically capable of performing the essential functions of a job. This is not a new concept, but some organizations avoid this type of testing due to the fear of being sued for discrimination. Case in point, just last month an organization paid $3.2 million as part of a lawsuit settlement as a result of a discrimination lawsuit filed against them by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This can easily be avoided, though.
When physical ability testing is challenged by the EEOC, it’s often on the grounds of the tests’ “disparate impact” on women.
Making sure that all of your employees—male and female—are physically able to handle the jobs they’re responsible for is vital in avoiding injury and getting the jobs done. Physical Ability Testing (PAT) is the single best way to make sure this happens. Without it, you’re gambling with your schedule, your commitments, and your money.
One of the simplest definitions of ergonomics is “fitting the job to the worker”. But how do you achieve good ergonomics if neither the job nor the worker is understood? Attention to physical risk factors, psychosocial risk factors, and work organization risk factors is required if a successful ergonomics program is to be achieved.
Repetitive tasks are often associated with manufacturing environments. However, it is important that repetition, as an ergonomic risk factor, is not overlooked in the non-manufacturing environment. Repetitive tasks can be seen in all walks of work (i.e., warehousing, retail, public utilities, construction, etc.)
As the new millennium approached, employees of Blue Cross Blue Shield Rhode Island (BCBSRI)
tasked with providing health insurance for others were undergoing the physical stresses of their own office work—mainly carpal tunnel and other repetitive strain injuries.