will hiring stronger workers
Overexertion is a leading cause of back injuries to workers performing
physically demanding jobs.
Overexertion is caused by a mismatch between the worker's capability
and the physical demands of the task. Stronger workers can
perform demanding tasks without overexertion and are less susceptible
to injuries. As more and more stronger workers are hired, fewer
What about the Americans with
Isn't it illegal to discriminate against persons with
The ADA defines a individual with a disability as a person
who has a medical condition so severe as to limit the person's ability
in "caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing,
hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working" (ADA -
1630.1.) The disability must be so severe, that it has a
substantial impact on the ability of the disabled person to perform the
necessary activities of daily living (bushing teeth, combing hair,
etc.) Mere weakness is not a disability. If a job can be shown to
require a specific level of
strength, the employer has a right to test persons for that level of
strength and hire the most qualified individual for the job. The
poorly qualified, the unprepared, and persons with low levels of
ability, have no basis to challenge the employer's employment decision.
If an employer tested ten persons for a job and selected the
highest scorer, the ADA does not require the employer hire the worst
performer on the test because that person also had a significant
medical or mental condition that limited a major life activity.
true that the ADA specifically permits employers to set production
Yes. Employers are permitted to set qualitative and
quantitative production standards for their workers. The language
of the ADA gives considerable leeway to employers in this regard and
is not the intent of this part to second guess an employer's business
judgment with regard to production standards. Consequently,
production standards will generally not be subject to a challenge under
this provision (ADA - 16.30.10).
This is significant for physical testing since an employer
can determine that it is an essential function of the job for workers
to be able to move, say, 50 lb. boxes at a rate of 20 boxes per
minute. The disabled applicant, capable of moving two boxes per
minute, has no grounds to challenge the employer's carefully
constructed performance standard or the test used to determine the
individual's ability to move 50 lb. boxes at the established
do physical ability tests look like?
There are two basic types of physical ability tests.
The work sample and the ability test. Work samples mimic a
portion of the job. Ability tests measure human capabilities
necessary to perform the job. Each test type has certain
advantages and both have certain disadvantages. Selection of the
test type depends on the situation in which it will be used. For
an example of a simulation test, click
here. To see an example of a
isometric strength test, click here.
about Functional Capacity Evaluations?
Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCEs) are often confused
with valid and reliable employment selection tests. These expensive
tests are used to assess the progress of injured workers during
rehabilitation. According to independent analysis, the vast majority of
these tests have never been validated or subjected to reliability
studies. Click here for a 1998 review of
28 commercial FCE systems. Click here
and here for two
articles describing the lack of validity and reliability of commerical
Functional Capacity Evaluations. Unless the FCE has been tailored to
the individual job according to the requirements of the Uniform
Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures, the use of these tests
in the selection process places employers in legal jeopardy. For a more
detailed discussion of these issues, click here.
I know if your test is valid?
A validation study will be performed. The study will
establish an empirical relationship between the lifts workers perform
on the job and isometric strength tests. The validation study
will demonstrate that high performance on the test is related to safe
performance on the job.
can validate the strength test?
There are many professions with members capable of
validating a strength test. Industrial psychologists, human
factors experts, personnel testing specialists, and educational
psychologists are among the those groups most closely associated with
test validation. The most important qualifications are education,
training and experience with test validation, an understanding of the Uniform
Guidelines on Employee Testing Procedures and the standards
promulgated by the Society for Industrial and Organizational
much does this cost?
This depends on factors such as the number of facilities,
number of workers, types of jobs included in the study, the scope of
the study, travel, etc. A typical strength test validation study
can cost between $15,000 and $100,000 depending on the aforementioned
factors. Given that an average back injury can cost $18,000, the
cost of test validation is negligible.
much does the testing equipment cost?
Many occupational medicine facilities have this equipment
already or existing equipment can be utilized. If a given
location does not have easy access to equipment it is relatively
inexpensive isometric tests can be obtained for less than $4,500.
Clinics usually charge between $75 and $100 to administer the
examination using the equipment. Some larger employers have
purchased their own equipment and use it to test their own job
applicants as part of the testing program. To see a nine minute video
(Windows Media Player) produced by one employer about its own testing
program, click here.
there a way to measure the success of a strength testing program?
If strength testing were implemented in one facility, the
injury rate of the screened group could be compared to that of an
unscreened group over time. An appropriate study design could be
developed based on the unique factors associated with your
isn't anyone else doing this?
Many employers are instituting strength testing programs
for new hires. At the present time the oil industry, the grocery
warehouse industry, and many major utilities use strength testing for
physically demanding entry level jobs. Thousands of other
employers perform strength testing on new hires as part of the
pre-placement medical examination.
ongoing service charges are there?
None. Once MED-TOX has conducted a validation study
and trained your personnel or the organization you choose to provide
ongoing testing, there are no ongoing charges.
benefits can be expected from instituting strength testing?
Stronger workers are less likely to suffer overexertion
injuries than weak workers. Stronger and more fit employees
experience fewer serious injuries than less strong and less fit
workers. Stronger workers are more productive than weaker
workers. One study showed stronger workers out producing weak
workers by a factor of 8 on physically demanding tasks. That is
-- the strongest worker performed the same amount of work as 8 weak
workers. Stronger and more fit workers are less likely to leave
the organization with disabling back injuries, thus, reducing
turnover. As workers stay on the job longer, recruitment and
training costs decrease and the level of expertise of the work force
interview a vendor to provide testing and test validation services,
what questions should I ask?
A pdf file of some questions that could be asked can be
competitor uses strength testing, who will hire the persons he fails?
The physically unqualified will be hired by those employers
with lowest entry-level qualifications and by those who do not
effectively test new hires for physically demanding jobs.