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Trends in Post Offer Employment Testing

Post offer employment testing is an ever changing preventative service line. The first instance of post offer strength testing came out of the Supreme Court case Dothard v. Rawlinson where the Supreme Court said “if strength really was a needed criteria for a job than it would not be difficult to develop a test that measured strength directly and was validated.

Isometric & Isokinetic Strength Testing

The first type of strength testing proposed by NIOSH was based on isometric strength. Isometric lifting testing has been shown to cause more injuries as compared to dynamic lifting testing and a healthy person is able to generate more force isometrically as compared to performing dynamically or in an isotonic fashion like they do on a job. This means someone could generate more force isometrically, pass the post offer employment test, but when they get to the actual job requiring dynamic isotonic strength they may get injured or not be able to perform the essential function.

Isokinetic strength to determine if a person is able to safely perform their job is another type of post offer testing which skews even further away from the actual dynamic/functional way someone performs their job. Companies selling Isokinetic post offer testing have proprietary research to support their testing parameter but do not share the research with the general public. Thus it is not peer reviewed and this author has always wondered how it stands up to the Daubert Standard.

Post Offer Test / Functional Capacity Evaluation

Then there is post offer testing that is a functional capacity evaluation. Employers call OccuCare weekly asking if we can set up a functional capacity evaluation for their company. Remember there is a difference between a functional capacity evaluation and a post offer employment test/fit-for-duty test. A FCE is designed to see if a person is employable in any job. A fit-for-duty test is designed to see if the person is able to perform a specific job. Some basic FCE testing principles can be used but the principles have to make sense.

For instance you should never use the Progressive Isointertial Lifting Evaluation in the exact manner it was designed in a post offer employment test. The PILE test is an FCE test to see if someone can generally lift frequently. Remember frequent is 34% to 66% of the time. Well what is the time? Is it an 8 hour a day job and is the frequent lifting 35% of the time or 64% of the time. You can take your knowledge of the PILE test and use this knowledge to design a post offer test that matches the exact frequency and duration of the actual job as compared to relying on a test that determines frequent by lifting 4 lifts in 20 seconds.

Isotonic Testing

The third type of test you see, which is what 80% of the industry is doing in regards to post offer testing, includes dynamic functionally based isotonic testing that greatly considers the “close approximation standard” coined by the Supreme Court in Hardy v. Stump 1978. This is where job replication occurs and the professional designing the test takes into account the weight, using the actual item lifted on the job, the frequency and duration of the lift. It also includes performing the lift or carry to the exact heights and distances of a job.

I always cringe when I see a post offer test that is a floor to knuckle or floor to waist lift like in an FCE. Everyone’s waist and knuckle are different heights so the test is not a legally defensible test.

In the most recent economic downturn many companies trimmed their programs and the first thing to go was preventative services like post offer testing. There has been a significant increase in companies calling OccuCare wanting post offer testing implemented in their company. Remember there are three types of testing a company may be interested in: baseline testing, placement testing, or pass fail/met not met testing.

I. Baseline Post Offer Testing

Baseline post offer testing is generally done to match that states Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment so a company can minimize their Permeant Partial Disability payout when their injured employee reaches Maximum Medical Improvement. If you test a person upon hire based on impairment rating guides and that person enters employment with a 4% impairment, then sustains a work related injury at the same joint, the PPD exposure can be minimized. If at MMI the employee has 10% impairment, the 4% impairment they had at new hire can be used to minimize the new impairment exposure and the insurance would only have to pay for the 6% of the impairment your company caused.

II. Placement Post Offer Testing

Placement post offer testing is not as popular but still quite common. This is where a post offer test may be performed like a Functional Capacity Evaluation, all employees are hired but the results of the test help place the person in an open position that best fits their abilities.

III. Pass/Fail Post Offer Testing

Pass/Fail or Met/Not Met post offer testing still tends to be the primary reason a company may call to implement post offer testing. This testing is done to determine if the contingently offered employee demonstrates the physical abilities to successfully perform the essential functions of a job. That person’s employment offer could be rescinded if they are unable to safely perform the essential functions of the job due to the wellbeing/safety/injury exposure of the person rising to a level of a direct threat.

Post Offer Employment Test Training

OccuCare has trained thousands of professionals worldwide in regards to implementing legally defensible post offer employment test. OccuCare's Post Offer Employment Testing Certification Course is now offered On Demand, Live In Person, and via Live Webcast and includes taking attendees to a local employer to gather the physical demands and determine the essential functions.