A variety of factors, external and internal, influence a company's
decision to implement employee selection and placement programs for
physically demanding work tasks. These factors include but are not
- Federal and State Regulations
- Raising Productivity
- Injury Reduction
- Marketplace Competitiveness
- Reducing Workers' Compensation Costs
developing competitive strategies, many companies understand that
recruiting and keeping skilled and talented people are important to
their long-term success. Therefore, the development and implementation
of a valid selection system are important elements of any recruitment
strategy. This is particularly important for companies where the jobs
are in manufacturing or involve manual handling and where any risk of
musculoskeletal injury is present.
to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job-related injuries in 1997
companies over $45 billion. Strain/ sprain injuries and musculoskeletal
disorders account for a significant percentage of the reported workers'
compensation costs. Some companies credit the ability to match a worker
to an appropriate job, to sharp reductions of on-the-job injuries.
or post-offer, pre-placement testing has been subject to the erroneous
assumption that federal regulations prohibit such tests. While medical
tests are illegal if given
solely to make pre-employment hiring decisions, conducting valid
physical ability tests is legal. A valid physical ability test can
determine if an applicant or worker can perform the essential elements
of a particular job. Such a test meets the legal standard of being a
business necessity, and employers have a legal right to conduct such
jobs require workers to lift objects (e.g. boxes and bags) in many
different ways. Loads are lifted to different heights at different
rates. Additionally, workers use a variety of postures when lifting.
Medical research shows that materials lifting task that are too heavy
for the lifter cause about 50% of all industrial low back injuries. The
ergonomic approach to reducing back injuries caused by lifting is to
match the worker to the job. This is done in two ways:
- Change the job to fit the
This involves engineering the risk out of the task.
- When job redesign is not an option,
who have the physical capacity to meet the demands of the job.
job redesign is an effective ergonomic strategy, it is not always
possible. Many products and containers are already designed at their
optimal weight and size. When the demands of a materials lifting task
cannot be engineered out of the task, the second option is to select
workers who are able to meet the demands of the job. Research has
demonstrated that isometric strength tests are an effective measure of
worker's ability to perform manual materials handling tasks. Isometric
strength is the maximum force that a muscle group can exert without
movement. Tests of isometric strength are easy to perform since they
require only a single maximal contraction.
tests are much safer than other kinds of tests such as those that ask
workers to lift increasingly heavy weights to establish a worker's
maximal level of strength. This is because isometric tests do not ask
workers to lift weights, only exert force. If a worker can only exert
25 lbs. of force, that worker's score is 25lbs. On the other hand, if a
worker is very physically capable, he or she may exert 125 lbs. or more
of force on the same test. In neither case is the worker endangered by
the test since the test measures the maximal capacity to lift by forces
generated by the worker.
& Injury Reduction
has also demonstrated that strong workers are up to 8-12 times more
productive than weak workers in jobs that consist primarily of
strength-dependent activities. Not only can strength testing increase
productivity, it can reduce injuries. Studies have also shown that as
workers required to lift weights that approach their maximal capacity,
their back injury rates increase by as much as 300%. Strength testing
permits the selection of the most productive workers while avoiding
those persons likely to injure themselves and other workers.
MED-TOX offers testing
services for employers in the Southern California region. Testing can
be conducted in our offices or on site. Services
Contact MED-TOX Health Services for further information.
- Cost-effective Physical Ability
- Job-Related Test Validation Studies
- Specialized Job Analysis Services
- Ergonomic Consultation