A physical exam varies depending on the job and the time on the job. The purpose of a physical is to protect the worker from overexertion or strain, to protect the company from liability for unknown physical limitations for that worker, and to set baselines for health to be re-evaluated in the future.
Here, we’ll focus on new hire physicals and physicals for returning to work after an extended absence.
New hire physicals
For a new hire, especially one with a physically demanding job, a physical protects the employee and the company, and sets baselines for health to be re-evaluated in the future. These exams are invaluable in reducing injury, and thus, worker’s compensation claims. Researchers found that new hires that had passed physical abilities testing had a 47 percent lower worker compensation injury rate than those who failed that testing.
At Workplace Safety Screenings, we recommend the physical exam portion, which will test an employee’s ability to lift, carry, and hold weights at body height or higher, be performed using the BTE EvalTech.
Physicals for employees returning to work after an extended absence
In 2020 and 2021, more return-to-work physicals were performed than in the past due to COVID-19 closures and re-openings. Business also changed dramatically in many industries last year, thus demanding a shifting of the labor force. We recommend a drug and alcohol screen with every return-to-work physical, and we also recommend a criminal background check, depending on how much time has passed since employment.
For the physical portion, the employee’s medical history and existing documentation should be examined, and a basic medical exam should be performed. At this point, the medical examiner can then determine if the employee is able to take the physical abilities testing.
Use your TPA, if possible, for this exam. The worst-case scenario is when a biased employee performs the return-to-work physical and does not provide a full exam, which then leads to injury.