Physical Demand Validations – The Legal Foundation for Fit-for-Duty Testing
Fit-for-duty (FFD) exams conducted on a post-offer, preplacement basis can be essential to managing injuries, loss time, and increasing productivity. Failure to demonstrate abilities to perform the essential functions of the job can either result in the withdrawal of a job offer and/or trigger an accommodation review. Obviously, the design of a FFD examination must ensure that the functional tests performed are valid representations of essential functions of the job.
In essence, all FFD functional testing pass/fail criteria must be based on the essential physical demands of the job. This is essential to avoiding disparate discrimination in the hiring process. Determining what is essential and non-essential is key to an accurate and legal functional testing program.
The PDV process involves employee interviews, work shadowing and direct measurements of material handling, gripping and dexterity, postural, flexibility, balance and coordination, sensory and cardiovascular demands by ergonomic specialists. Since the key to performing PDVs properly is to identify the minimum physical demands required to perform the essential functions of a job safely, any physical demand of a job that can be reduced or eliminated by reasonable no-cost or low cost ergonomic interventions should not be considered essential functions of the job, particularly for the purpose of pass/fail criteria in a FFD examination. Therefore, a PDV process can be beneficial to employers by not only measuring job demands but also by identifying ergonomic interventions that will reduce injury risk.
Information derived from the PDV of each job can be used to write a functional job description (FJD). A properly written FJD is instrumental for content-valid FFD tests which helps ensure compliance with ADA and EEOC regulations. FJDs can also be invaluable for determining reasonable accommodations.
FJDs should be re-examined and updated whenever there are significant changes in job processes or after a length of time (e.g. every 5 years). Having well written FJDs based on skillfully performed PDVs is essential to the legal foundation of a FFD program and accommodation review process.
WorkSaver Systems has been conducting PDVs and creating content valid FJDs since 1993. Contact us for an additional information on this process.