With the evolution of automation and robotics, the majority of manual labor positions have been eliminated. There are certain positions within industries, however, that still require a physically able employee to perform (i.e. construction, manufacturing, and janitorial).
In order for an employer to determine if a job applicant can perform the duties of the job, pre-employment physicals should be conducted. Standard pre-employment physicals are administered by a licensed medical doctor and tailored around the duties and responsibilities of the job.
There is a misconception out there that employers can conduct a workers compensation search as part of the background checks which will reveal all claims filed by the applicant; however, there are three limitations with performing workers compensation searches:
Employers would be better served to conduct pre-employment physicals to determine if the job applicant meets the requirements of the position.
Certain agencies like the Department of Transportation (DoT) requires all licensed employers to conduct regulated DoT physicals conducted by a licensed “medical examiner” listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) National Registry. A DoT physical exam is valid for up to 24 months.
The medical examiner may also issue a medical examiner’s certificate for less than 24 months when it is desirable to monitor a condition, such as high blood pressure. The purpose of these tests is to identify mental, physical, and emotional problems that may affect a driver’s ability to safely operate a truck for a long period of time on the road.
“Kill two birds with one stone” by having the physical include drug and/or alcohol testing administered by the clinic conducting the physical. The turnaround time in completing the tests will be improved since the applicant will have to go to one location as opposed to the drug testing location and then the doctor’s office for the physical.
For this to be done successfully, it is pertinent to ensure that the doctor’s office is an approved drug collection site. Positive results from the drug screening must be reviewed by a Medical Review Officer (MRO) before final results are reported.
Employers are advised to currently review all positions (especially safety sensitive roles) that they hire for to identify duties and responsibilities that would require a pre-placement physical. Next, they should consult with their background screening organization to see if they have the capabilities of facilitating this service.
Most of the rules pertaining to pre-employment physicals are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA applies to private companies with 15 or more employees, as well as state and local government employers, employment agencies, and labor organizations.
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