At the 2015 National Workers’ Compensation & Disability Conference, a panel presented a session titled “Physical Function Pre-Work Screens and Fitness-For-Duty Evaluations.
The panel included:
- Darin Hampton, Regional Coordinator, International Paper
- Gia Schneider, Esq. Shareholder, Haworth, Bradshaw, Stallknecht & Barber
- Tony Silva, Director, Atlas Injury Prevention Solutions
It’s important to remember to match the work and the worker.
A functional job analysis is a systematic procedure to quantify and evaluate the physical, cognitive, and environmental demands of the essential tasks of the job.
- Identify the physical requirements to perform the job.
- Observe and interact with workers who perform the selected jobs.
- Measure the physical requirements for each job.
Some uses of the analysis include better job descriptions, post offer pre-work screens, safety and ergonomic teams, job rotation, education and training, job matching/return to work and job modification/ADA.
Essential functions are the fundamental, crucial duties performed in a position. They do not include marginal functions, which are extra or incidental duties. A function may be essential because the position exists to perform the function, there are a limited of employees available who can perform that function, and the function is highly specialized and the incumbent is hired for a special expertise or ability to perform. Important to remember the employer has the right to determine the essential functions, determine the educational training requirements, and determine the performance standards of the job. As long as the standards and requirements are consistently applied and are not established specifically to discriminate against people with disabilities.
Example: raising a hood on a car. Physical demands include stepping, pulling and balance. Important to have a documentation trail. This is based on thorough job analysis, employee and management review and validation is an ongoing process. The pre-employment screens needs to be based on the actual essential functions of the job. Testing protocol is actual testing of what the essential functions of the job would be. Items that would change include how many reps of each function. This testing has actually decreased slips, trips and falls on the job.
Employment practices may be considered discriminatory and illegal if they have a disproportionate “adverse impact” on members of a minority group. The requirements need to be equal across the entire board for everyone. Employers should make sure the testing protocol is fully compliant with the EEOC and ADA regulations.
Return-to-Work Six-Step Process
1. Initial medical treatment & evaluation
-make sure medical treatment is appropriate and timely
-provide the MD with all pertinent information, detailed description of temporary transitional work available, and job demands analysis
2. Clarify diagnosis & medical restrictions
-use a fitness-for-duty forms, insist on a clear diagnosis from the doctor, both parties must have enough information to make a valid return-to-work decision
3. Determine temporary transitional duties that are available that meet the restrictions and capabilities
-recommend a use of RTW team, make sure to include supervisor and human resources
4. Offer the temporary transitional assignment
-must be within medical restrictions, be in accordance with collective bargaining agreements, create a review at 90 days
5. Meet with the supervisor
-confirm details of temporary transitional work, review restrictions and expected progress, review the employee responsibilities, and discuss monitoring progres
6. Monitor progress & changes in medical restrictions
-re-evaluate after every doctor visit, review at least every 30 days, ensure progress and improvement, maintain frequent contact with supervisor and employee, communicate with TPA or carrier throughout
If your company doesn’t currently have a return-to-work program, make one!! Employees should have a return-to-work evaluation with an injured worker when they are attempting to return to modified work. All managers are responsible for employees returning to work should know your company’s process.