Latest data shows employers’ cost for workman’s compensation has risen to over $83 billion per year (nearly a 7% increase) (1). In response to increasing cost, many companies have attempted to contain cost by reducing injury rates and screening potential employees for those who are at a greater than average risk for being injured on the job. Drug screening, for example, is one such measure that companies employ. Another increasingly common screening tool used by companies is post-offer physical ability testing. There are several different forms of physical ability testing that are used depending on what the company desires to achieve by testing. For example, some large companies use post-offer testing to help place an employee into a department which best matches the employee’s physical ability. Other companies without as diverse and flexible placement options use post-offer testing as a pass/fail screen to ensure their new employees have the physical capabilities to perform the essential functions of the job they are being hired for. Lastly, companies with jobs requiring highly repetitive work use post-offer testing to establish a baseline for each employee so that if an employee does become injured a percent disability can be calculated more accurately. In addition to these three types of testing, most companies also include a screen for pre-existing injuries.
One of the most frequent question that I get when talking with employers interested in post-offer testing is whether or not post-offer testing really reduces injury rate and if so, does it decrease the rate enough to make it financially advantageous. The answer? It depends. Studies show that functional tests that are paired with the demands of the job are effective at reducing both the frequency and severity of work-related injury. Research further reveal that employees that fail a post-offer test are 30-40% more likely to be injured on the job than those that pass the test. (2, 4, 6, 7) In addition, the severity of the injuries that do occur are significantly less resulting in decreased lost time from work. (7) In one study, the incidents of lower back injuries were reduced from 33% to just 3% among those who passed the test. (4) Lastly, post offer testing has also been shown to increase the retention rate of employees by 20%, resulting in decreased time and money spent on recruiting and training new employees. (2,6) So, what do these results mean to your bottom line? Decreases in injury rates and severities saves companies money as a result of decreased medical cost, lost productivity, and decreased training and recruitment costs. Studies show that for every dollar spent on screening companies save $6-18. (2, 3, 9)
However, studies also show that the test must be functional and closely matched to the actual job that is performed to obtain these results. Post offer testing that include only strength testing for example are not effective at predicting injury or severity of injury in potential employees. (4) Because of this there are types of jobs that lend themselves to post offer testing better than others. For example, studies show that post offer testing is not very effective at predicting repetitive trauma disorders such as carpal tunnel in a graphics designer or lateral epicondylitis in a grocery checker. The reason for this is that it is very difficult to reproduce a test in 45 minutes that represents the stress of using a mouse or checking groceries for an 8-10 hours/day. Injuries resulting from not being strong enough to lift a 50# bag of dog food as a grocery stocker are much easier to test for. So, if you have tried post offer testing unsuccessfully, it is likely that the test did not accurately represent the essential functions of the job.
Another frequent question that employers often have when I talk to them about post offer testing is why they should use Great Northern Physical Therapy? First, if your test is going to be effective it must be well designed. We have over 13 years of experience performing post-offer testing. Whenever possible we get out on the jobsite to see in person what it is that your employees do. This helps us design a test that will more accurately reflect the demands of the job so the screening process will identify those at a high risk of injury and not screen out those that are capable candidates. We also provide flexible hours and strive to get the screening complete within 1-2 business days. Finally, we offer very competitive pricing and are often considerable cheaper than other providers.
In conclusion, if you are frustrated with the rising cost of workman’s compensation and want to decrease worksite injuries while saving your company money, you owe it to your company to consider post offer testing. Post offer testing has the potential to decrease injury rate and severity and increase retention rate, thus saving your company money. Don’t settle for ineffective screening that is not tailored to your employee’s specific job requirements. Great Northern Physical Therapy provides accurate and effective post offer screening at a competitive price to help meet your companies unique screening needs.
1. Workman’s Compensation: Benefits, Coverage, and Costs, 2012, National Academy of Social Insurance, https://www.nasi.org/sites/default/files/research/NASI_Work_Comp_Year_2014.pdf, 2014
2. Gassoway J, Flory V. Prework screen: Is it helpful in reducing injuries and cost? Work 15 (2000), 101-106.
3. Harbin G, et al., Shoulder injury reduction with post-offer testing , Work, 2011, 39(2):113-123
4. Harbin G, Olson J, Post-Offer, Pre-Placement Testing in Industry , American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 2005, 47(4):303
5. Lefkowitz S, McKinnon S, Hornick E. Examining Cost and Trends of Workers Compensation Claims in New York Sate. http://www.oliverwyman.de/content/dam/oliverwyman/global/en/files/archive/2012/NYC-ADM90101-004_Examing_cost_final.pdf , 2013
6. Anderson C, Briggs J. A study the effectiveness of ergonomically based functional screening tests and their relationship to reducing worker compensation injuries. Work. 2008;31(1):27-37.
7. Nassau D. The effects of pre-work functional screening on lowering an employer’s injury rate, medical costs, and lost days. Spine. 1999;24(3):269-274.
8. Murdo P, Summary of Multi-State Comparisons for Workers’ Compensation Law, Economic Affairs Interim Committee, https://leg.mt.gov/content/Committees/Interim/2017-2018/Economic-Affairs/Committee-Topics/SJR27/multi-state-comparison-summary.pdf, 2018.
9. Littelton M. Cost effectiveness of a pre-work screening program for the University of Chicago physical plant. Work. 2003; 21 (3): 243-250