A Complete Guide to Fitness-For-Duty

fit for duty exam

Many people wonder what a fit-for-duty evaluation is and if it applies to them. AllOne Health’s guide to what a fit for duty exam is and how it can benefit your organization can help you learn more about this critical policy.

Are Your Employees Safe and Fit for Their Jobs?

At your workplace, you may have to deal with four types of employees: new hires, existing workers given new tasks, workers exhibiting behavioral or psychosocial changes, and existing workers returning to work after being injured.At your workplace, you may have to deal with four types of employees: new hires, existing workers given new tasks, workers exhibiting behavioral or psychosocial changes, and existing employees who have been harmed are returning to work.

It’s easier to get injured if you’re a new employee. Over 40% of all work-related injuries are caused by workers with less than a year of experience, according to a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

New employees are the most at-risk for accidents. As per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 40 percent of all work-related injuries occur among workers who have been working for less than a year.

 Many new employees get hurt early on because young workers are inexperienced, and have not received training to recognize the hazards in their work environment. According to a recent study by NIOSH, workers under 24 are twice as likely to be injured on the job compared to workers over 25.

Then you have your employees. Even if they have experience, does it carry any value once they begin to assume new responsibilities? 

When workers return to work after an injury or illness, it is important to make sure they are fit and ready for their old jobs. If you want to decrease your workers’ compensation or injury/illness caseload, you might hurry the process.

A supervisor reporting concerns about a certain employee whose behavior, work habits, or appearance has changed suddenly and dramatically may need an investigation to determine if they are fit for duty.

The cost factor

You want to keep your employees safe and you want to keep your costs down. Workplace injuries cost a lot! In 2011, the National Safety Council estimated that the most disabling injuries cost U.S. businesses over $55.4 billion in direct costs — over a billion dollars each week. It was determined that the most disabling injuries cost companies more than $55.4 billion in direct costs in 2011 according to the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index.

Exams and testing have value

OSHA mandates them for certain jobs and exposures, and you should use a service that provides specific instructions based on your needs. 

New employees aside, medical surveillance (exams and testing) also examines employees who’ve transferred to new, potentially dangerous work or work requiring different physical capabilities; examines impaired or disabled employees returning to the job; and examines employees

Challenges & solutions

Tests for employees in safety-sensitive positions can be complicated and challenging. OSHA’s mandatory tests must be considered. So too the Department of Transportation (DOT) exams, and testing. Americans with Disabilities Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, state workers’ compensation laws, drug and alcohol testing.

When assessing a prospective employee’s fitness for duty, you must undertake a number of logistical tasks. For example, who will conduct and administer the exams and testing? Where will they do this? How will they track those tested or evaluated? Will you keep documentation on those tested and evaluated? What costs are involved with these tests? How can you select objective, trustworthy, credible providers with whom to contract?

In-house resources are available to address these issues? If not, can your organization afford to hire someone with a wide range of skills and experience? The knowledgeable staff, the technology and administrative functions, ready access to screening services providers — can you afford to hire them on an ongoing basis? Leadership in your organization may not want to invest in these capabilities and competencies that aren’t core to the company’s operations.

When you outsource your pre-employment screening to different providers, you can cause complexity. You want consistency and efficiency in your pre-employment screening. You don’t need redundancies and an increase in cost. Take control of the situation, and make pre-employment screening easier by bringing it in house.

When it comes to human resources, outsourcing is the best solution for keeping your people fit and safe for their jobs; containing costs; staying in compliance with state and federal regulations; and avoiding legal liabilities. PCP works here to help.