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.
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.
It’s easy to understand that jobs requiring major bodily movement can lead to musculoskeletal disorders and injury. Pushing, pulling, lifting, and other active tasks put obvious strain on muscles.
Contractor Management Process
There are many risk management steps that should be completed by “host employers” prior to allowing any contractor to start any project on site. But where does “pre-task planning” fit in to the overall process? What are your responsibilities for assurance that they are being completed? Where does the “pre-task plan” fall in the overall contractor management process? These are all good questions that have been vetted out in both OSHA inspections and liability cases both past and presently under review.
Human performance improvement initiatives can systematically reduce human error rates inherent in any project. Considering both general industry and construction industry projects, some performance tools often include “pre-task planning”, post-task safety briefings, using peer and self-checking methods.
In deciding whether to cite an employer for safety violations, OSHA uses a two-step process:
- What is the status of the employer in the case—Creating, Exposing, Correcting, or Controlling?
- Given the different responsibilities of each employer type in a multi-employer project, did the employer meet those responsibilities?