Certain job industries require physical intensive work (i.e. construction, manufacturing, law enforcement, etc.) which can lead to employee accidents and loss of work. In order to determine if a new employee is eligible or meets the requirements for the position being sought, the hiring organization should conduct pre-employment physical examinations. Employment physical examinations may include health inquiries and physical examinations, including psychological tests, and physical or mental health assessments. Physical exams also enable employers to make reasonable accommodations for an employee, relocate the employee to a more suitable position (if available), or reconsider their offer of employment.

Once an employer decides to send an employee for a physical exam, an authorization worksheet will be generated and given to the physician that will be administering the physical. In addition, to the authorization form, the examining physician should be given a written statement as to the essential mental and physical functions of the job. The physician then will conduct an examination of the applicant to determine whether he or she can perform those functions. If the results from a physical exam reveal certain limitations imposed on the employee, then the employer is obligated to make reasonable accommodations to work within the employee’s limitations.

Examples that might constitute reasonable accommodations include:

  • job restructuring
  • part-time and/or modified work schedules
  • reassignment to a vacant position;
  • acquisition or modification of equipment, devices
  • appropriate adjustment or modification of examinations, training, materials or policies
  • the provision of qualified readers or interpreters

It should be noted that Under the American Disabilities Act (ADA), pre-employment physical examinations may not be conducted until after a conditional offer of employment has been extended to the applicant.

Consequently, only applicants who are otherwise qualified for employment may be subject to a pre-employment physical examination.

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