Small Business Tips Blog
In 2002, a Work Safe Alberta initiative set out to reduce the provincial lost-time claim rate in workplaces by 40% in two years. This ongoing goal is naturally part of the vision of all companies who rely on skilled labour and trades. Putting safety and wellness first to prevent employee injury and death, and avoiding ongoing impediment on revenue growth by reducing the costs that are incurred with lost-time claims, the province and the private sector put their heads together and accomplished that 40% goal by adding drug and alcohol testing to the work force.
In the same vein, Fit-for-Duty testing is improving employers’ chances of reducing work site safety incidents. If you are considering adding Fit-for-Duty testing to your hiring practice, look for a company who offers the following:
- A medical and Physical Demands Analysis (PDA)
- A practitioner who is a physiotherapist, exercise specialist, or kinesiologist
- Standardized testing.
In a Fit-for-Duty medical, an applicant’s height, weight, and blood pressure are recorded. Some testing centres also provide an oxygen saturation reading using pulse oximetry. (A non-invasive way to measure oxygenation of hemoglobin). O2 saturation is the percentage of oxygen carried in the blood, measured when a person is at rest, and will give you an idea of how physically fit the person you are hiring is. Ideally, at rest, O2 saturation should be 100%, but is more commonly around 96%. A reading below 94% can be a sign of high blood pressure. In most cases, an applicant will be given a chance to return to be tested after they have been advised by their primary physician on how to monitor their medical conditions.
Signs of previous injuries are usually discovered in the physical examination. In the case that a physiotherapist is doing the physical exam, a full musculoskeletal assessment is performed, in which the practitioner looks for previous surgeries, dislocations, fractures, sprains, etc., and limitations in range of motion.
Most companies who do occupational testing will perform a PDA in which a candidate performs 30-45 minutes of job specific lifting, floor to waist, waist to waist, overhead lifts, sustained trunk flexion, etc. with a focus on the techniques and endurance they will need to do their job.
Facility is also key to finding a good practitioner. Having the right space where weights and necessary testing equipment can be set up, and parallel worksite conditions as closely as possible, is important for attaining accurate results.
If you are a company hiring people from across the country to work on a site in your province, it is valuable to find a Fit-for-Duty company who performs tests using the same equipment and criteria and protocol from St. John’s to Nanaimo.