Pre-Employment/Post-Offer Agility Test Protocol Development
GSC On-Site offers custom Pre-Employment/Post-Offer Agility employment and agility test protocol development services. These protocols accurately simulate the critical physical demands associated with essential job tasks identified by the GSC Job Analysis. This process is necessary to insure ADA compliance and defensibility.
The steps required to develop the customized employment
or Fitness for Duty test include:
Develop test protocol based on maximum physical tolerances and frequencies for each job.
Create all test forms and protocols, equipment list and design testing layout
Coordinate with HR for development of policies for pre-employment and post injury fitness forduty.
Conduct beta testing with employees and supervisors that are currently performing each job.
Conduct beta testing with employees and supervisors that are currently performing each job.
Revise the testing protocols based on the beta testing results.
Provide administrator with post offer test protocols.
History of Employment Testing
“Pre‐placement testing was implemented during World War II. Its current use has been reshaped by economic factors, litigation, legislation, and advances in medicine. In response to a request from a local industry intent upon lowering their work‐related injuries, a post‐offer screening program was developed and implemented. The aim of this study was to develop a testing protocol for determining physical capacity that could be adapted for a post‐offer, pre‐placement program.”
With the introduction of the American’s With Disability Act of 1990 (ADA) employers were challenged to find ways to remain in compliance with existing EEOC hiring practices and then to add compliance with ADA Title 1 for employment. As a result, companies looked for ways to “objectively assess” an incumbent’s ability to perform job demands. The best resources for testing were therapy equipment manufacturers such as Cybex and Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) equipment companies such as BTE and FCE protocol companies such as Worksteps and Ergo Science.
These options used NIOSH standards and strength rating data to determine if an applicant for a job could meet or exceed the physical capacities required by the job. There were inherent issues with these approaches:
- Many of the jobs did not have specific physical tolerances and essential functions identified but instead relied on a Job Description as the basis for determining testing requirements
- Many of the testing systems did not have a standardized way to offer employers testing services so they resorted to developing networks of therapy providers who would use whatever equipment or systems that they had in place to complete testing without consistency of testing our outcomes
- Cost and test relevance prohibited many companies from Post Offer testing
EEOC Requirements – Title 1 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
“This law makes it illegal to discriminate against a qualified person with a disability in the private sector and in state and local governments. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant or employee, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business.”
The Basis for a Compliant Testing Program
The first criteria for EEO and ADA compliance are the clear and objective determination of essential, marginally essential and non-essential job functions. Once determined, the next step is to identify the physical demands of the job elements and tasks. This process is referred to as “job analysis.” The Gold Standard for this process is the Department of Labor Handbook for Analyzing Jobs, first published in 1991, when the Department of Labor determined that a classification system for jobs would be helpful for employers, vocational rehabilitation programs, high school and higher education programs, etc.
The next step in creating a compliant document is to record the job information in a standardized format using recognized terminology (such as Handbook for Analyzing Jobs). Once completed and reviewed by HR, employees performing the job and EHS or other management professionals, this document becomes the basis for testing.
Test Development and Implementation
A test should be developed for jobs that fit the following criteria:
- High turnover
- High injury rates
- Medium, Heavy or Very Heavy PDSR
In addition, testing can be a successful tool when using a temp to hire a recruitment strategy to ensure that the contract employee can perform all the physical requirements of the job at the time that they are considered for employment as a contractor.
The test should be limited to 1 hour in length but maximize the incumbent’s ability to perform the essential job functions. No medical information can be obtained other than providing the incumbent with a look at the Job Analysis or Job Description that has all physical demands clearly outlined. HR can ask the incumbent if they can “perform the requirements of the job and participate in the post-offer test?”
The test should include the maximum forces and frequencies for lift, carry, push, pull and all remaining job elements such as kneel, reach, etc. In addition, specialized physical demands such as tool use, dexterity or computer use can be included with standardized tests that measure these capacities. The best tests include a simulation of the physical demands and circuits that represent typical frequencies or cycle times can be helpful in determining fatigue.
The proposed test should be validated by a supervisor and at least 2-3 employees that typically perform the job. Their feedback can ensure that the test is an accurate reflection of the physical demands and the “trial run” can assist in determining test length and to document that the test instructions are clear and can be duplicated to ensure standardized administration of the test.
Once the final validation process is complete the following considerations for testing MUST be in place:
- HR hiring policies including testing – must include test failure and re-take policies as well as position specific testing requirements
- Standardized test lay out, instructions and equipment
- Testing consent forms and policy for identification of incumbent such as driver’s license or photo
- Training of test administrator (can be 3rd party such as medical clinic, outside vendor or can be completed internally by HR, EHS or another designated evaluator)
- Communication of Pass or Fail test results (no test specifics can be included in personnel file)
- Consistency of test administration – instructions read in the same manner for each test and test set up the same for each test
- Consistency of testing for job position – any incumbent must be tested for a position that testing has been developed for
Expected Testing Outcomes
OK, now testing can begin – FINALLY! The prior steps will ensure that the job information and test is EEOC and ADA complaint, safe for incumbent employees to participate in and will provide the optimal benefits for all the work to this point. NIOSH determined in a study that accurate pre-employment/post offer testing should result in a failure rate of about 10% indicating that 10% of the population applying for a Medium, heavy or Very Heavy job does not have the physical capacity to perform the physical job requirements.
Testing that has higher failure rates can result in reduced ability to recruit appropriate candidates or fill open positions. Testing that has lower failure rates can result in the same issues for a company as not testing at all such as turn over or injuries.
One study called Post‐offer, pre‐placement testing in industry completed by Salina Sports Medicine Clinic, University of Kansas School of Medicine, Kansas City, Kansas states in its Results Section states
“Strength testing alone was of no predictive value for work injury incidence. There was a strong correlation of physical capacity to physical job requirements. If an employee had the physical capability to perform the essential functions of the job, there was a lower injury rate as compared to the employee not demonstrating the physical strength or ability to perform the essential functions of the job. The incidence of low back injuries in those workers with the physical capabilities to perform the required functions of their job was 3%. However, among those workers who did not demonstrate the strength or physical abilities to perform their job, there was a 33% incidence of low back injuries.”
Another study result concludes “A meta-analysis of the three predictive validation studies indicated that new-hires who passed the battery had a 47% lower worker compensation injury rate and 21% higher retention. A meta-analysis of the 175 pre/post-implementation studies indicated a 41% reduction in worker compensation injuries associated with implementation of ergonomically based physical ability tests.”
It’s evident that ADA discrimination cases continue to be brought by disgruntled employees. To avoid potential risks in litigation, make sure your job descriptions are specific and in writing;
An unknown benefit that can assist in lowering recruitment and training costs for employers is that when an incumbent participates in the post offer test, they gain a better understanding of the job and in some cases will not proceed with the hiring process thus reducing costly training, physicals, drug screening or time that result from this potential employee completing the above to show up for work for a short time and then quitting because it is not the job that he or she wanted.
When creating a culture of “worker-job matching™” employers over time see a reduction in hiring costs, training costs, better employee retention and reduced injury rates. The appropriate use of and cost related to test development can end up creating a significant return on investment and a happier, healthier workforce.
Pre-Employment/Post Offer Agility Testing when implemented by employers using ADA and EEOC compliant methodology has proven to improve hiring processes, improve employee retention and to lower the frequency and severity of work-related injuries. Adherence to Job Analysis with specific identification of essential, non-essential and marginally essential functions and documentation of all physical requirements becomes the basis for a successful testing program.
Development of a job specific test and validation of the test will ensure that the test meets all fair employment laws. Once testing begins, consistency of test instructions and result reporting as well as on-going measurement of test pass/fail metrics will help companies know if the test is meeting HR and EHS goals.
Kris Smith - Bio
Kris Smith is the Managing Member for GSC On-Site Services, an Arizona based, national injury prevention company. Kris is an Occupational Therapist by background but has spent more than 35 years working in industry with companies across all business sectors. She and her husband and business partner, Gil Smith started GSC On-Site Services to provide companies with options to prevent injuries such as Job Analysis, ergonomic risk assessments, body mechanics risk assessment and coaching, first aid only early symptom intervention and an innovative pre-shift warm up flexibility program. Kris is an expert at developing meaningful outcome metrics for the programs and services that GSC On-Site offers.
Kris has published many of her outcomes, presented at national, regional and local safety, risk management, occupational health and occupational therapy conferences. She teaches industrial rehabilitation at 3 AZ Universities. Her years of experience lend themselves to creating innovative solutions for customers.
GSC On-Site Services is a member of the VPPPA and an associate member of the Society for Human Resource Management.
Post-Offer Agility Test Protocol Development
The Americans with Disability Act implemented in 1991 created a new challenge for employer recruitment and hiring. Post-offer agility testing is an option for employers to assess a potential employee’s ability to meet the physical demands of the job. This is especially helpful for physically demanding or repetitive jobs.
Post-offer agility testing must have a job analysis completed that identifies specific essential functions, job demands, and isolates physical requirements. Once completed, the agility test should be custom designed to reflect these job demands.
Post-offer agility testing can be used in conjunction with a pre-employment physical or drug testing protocol or can be used as a stand-alone service. A pass or fail rating is issued to the employer. Studies have shown better “worker – job matching”, fewer work injuries, better employee retention and lower recruiting costs for employers that have a post offer agility testing program in place.