How will implementing pre-employment functional assessments help my business?

Author: Wade Brennan, Occupational Health Physiotherapist

It is clear the benefits of implementing pre-employment functional (physical) assessments to us as experts in the field of work in injury prevention and injury management. However, we understand that it may not be as clear to businesses we work with.

This blog aims to outline some of the key (business) benefits of implementing pre-employment functional (physical) assessments into your business.

The benefits

Benefit 1 – Helps you hire the right candidate for the role

A worker may have the skills, knowledge and experience for the role you are hiring them for. But if they do not have the current physical capacity to complete the tasks required of them in the role safely they may be more likely to get injured. Their lack of physical capacity may be due to past injury or medical conditions, or a lack of tolerance to certain postures, or they cannot lift and carry what is required in their role. This does not mean you do not hire them but may alter their job tasks with this knowledge gained from the pre-employment testing process.

Benefit 2 – Helps you meet your duty of care of providing a safe workplace 

If you do not know an individual’s physical capacity how do you ensure you keep job tasks within their capacity? This is a really tricky one for employers. However pre-employment functional assessments provide you with objective information to assist you in ensuring you keep all team members safe while they are at work. It also allows you to modify individual tasks and alter the workplace based on all individual’s needs (as a business owner must).

Benefit 3 – Reduces your chance of injuring an employee / save $$$$$

Put simply if an individual’s safe lifting capacity from the floor to a bench is 20kg and they are asked to lift 25kg at work they are more likely to injure themselves. Without going into the costs of workplace injuries the costs can be in the many 1000s of $. This money would be better kept and reinvested into your business. The flow on effects of workplace injuries can be substantial, not just to the injured worker and their family, but the business and all its other team members.

Benefit 4 – Helps you know what current injuries you may need to manage AND What is a worker’s baseline to mitigate future claims

As mentioned above knowing that an individual has a current or past injury does not mean you will not hire them. And that would actually be a dangerous path for an employer with anti-discrimination law. The pre-employment assessment provides you objective information on any potential hires who may not meet the physical demands of the role. For this reason (and not because of the injury) you would not be keeping an employee safe if you placed them in that role. You may hire a team member and work with them on treating and managing their injury until they can do the tasks safely that they currently can’t. There is valuable information that the pre-employment assessment data gives you.

With regards to ‘what is a worker’s baseline to mitigate future claims‘ this means that you will have recorded data on employees injuries, physical capacity and function before you hired them to prevent a worker claiming that their employment with you caused a, b or c (which they already had pre-hire). Just another thing to think about.

So hoping that provides some insider information into the benefits of implementing pre-employment functional (physical) assessments into your business.

What’s involved if you’d like to implement these assessments?

  1. Discuss your company needs related to what information you are seeking about employees and what you wish to do with this information (this ensures the correct type of assessment)
  2. Design your pre-employment testing process including which tests are included for which job role
  3. Book workers in for testing

If you would like to find out more about what is included in the testing process, please click the link below: 

This blog post was written by Occupational Health Physiotherapist and Director of Corporate Work Health Australia Wade Brennan.