Functional Return-to-Work Testing


Functional Return to Work Screen

Businesses are realizing that healthier employees are more productive and less costly. The key challenge in implementing cost-effective worker screening and health promotion programs is how to structure services in a manner that ensures safe job placement and motivate the employees that would benefit most from healthier lifestyles.

A Functional Return to Work Screen is an objective screen of musculoskeletal health, physical fitness, and job-specific measurabilities. This is initially administered after a contingent job-offer is made. It establishes a baseline of physical fitness and determines an applicant’s suitability for physical job demands to prevent fraudulent claims, unnecessary healthcare, and needless work disability. The Functional Return to Work Screen includes a baseline health history and measurement of:

  • Vitals (seated heart rate, pulse oximetry, respiratory rate, and blood pressure);
  • Anthropometric measures of body mass index (weight, height and abdominal girth);
  • Quick screen of functional range-of-motion/flexibility;
  • Near and far vision screen;
  • Finger dexterity/wrist-finger speed;
  • Total-body manual dexterity;
  • Grip/pinch/pull strength;
  • Agility/dynamic balance;
  • Aerobic capacity (when appropriate);
  • Job-specific lift/carry tests.

Note: Functional Job Analysis is required to validate any hiring cut-scores. Applicants that are NOT cleared for FULL DUTY may be reviewed for job accommodation feasibility if they qualify for additional employment consideration based on disability or other protected status.

The Functional Return to Work Screen can be repeated when necessary to update the employee’s physical fitness profile and measurabilities in response to specific issues such as:

  • Worker reports physical symptoms or difficulty in response to assigned work duties
  • Worker is released to FULL DUTY after a 30-day or longer absence due to lay-off, work-related injury, non-occupational injury/illness, or FMLA leave
  • Workers that have been on LIMITED DUTY for 30 or more days.

Re-administration of the Functional Return to Work Screen in response to any of the above issues provides an update to the employee’s physical fitness status and helps to ensure safe, ongoing job placement. The employee is provided with a report card that compares current status with past performance on prior Functional Return to Work Screens to motivate worker participation in appropriate wellness, medical or therapy services in order to reduce needless disability or healthcare costs. A Functional ERGO Accommodation Assessment may be needed to assess feasibility of worker accommodation.

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