For many potential job applicants, there is a physical component to aspects of their job duties. This can be the case for people who work in shipping, manufacturing and transportation, as well as cleaning and maintenance crews, landscapers, construction employees, and the cadres of people who work in the adult care and child care environment.

For many employers, conducting a physical screening after proffering a job offer makes a great deal of sense as it can prevent worker’s compensation payouts later, as well as prevent serious injuries to a valued employee.

Physical screenings are different from medical exams. During a physical screening, a potential hire is asked to perform specific tasks, which would mimic some of the tasks that would be part of the job. This makes unnecessary a medical exam and also can give the employer a truer idea of the physical capabilities of an employee. A caveat: every potential employee, irrespective of their outward physical appearance, must be examined without fail. It is lawful, by the way, to ask a potential employee if they are capable of doing the components of the job.

Physical screenings, if they are to be institutionalized, must be part of the new hire procedures and the potential employee must give consent to be screened. In order to ensure consistency and rule out bias, it is best practice if the same person administers the physical screenings. Again, the physical screening must be exactly the same for every candidate seeking that job. Different jobs can have different physical screening procedures.

It is also allowable to ask physicians to participate in screenings for the purpose of medical certification. In the best scenario, a document which indicates the types of duties which the applicant will be asked to perform will be submitted to the physician, who then, upon examining the job candidate, will either indicate that the candidate can perform the duties as assigned or they cannot. The document that the employer should retain is a sign-off by a physician of the candidate’s ability to perform tasks.

Physical screenings can be tailored to include performance of a variety of potential duties, including:

  • Repetitive motion(s)
  • Kneeling
  • Standing for long periods of time
  • Bending/stooping
  • Twisting
  • Climbing (ladders, stairs, etc.)
  • Lifting (determine a typical weight amount)
  • Driving
  • Working outside, especially if there will be exposure to the elements