The workforce is a complex organism that presents multiple challenges for environment, health and safety (EH&S) professionals. The need to determine whether an applicant or employee is physically and mentally fit for work is a common confounder. While this responsibility often falls outside their comfort zone, it is possible for EH&S professionals who lack medical training to confidently engage the fitness-for-work assessment process. This paper provides guidance based on best clinical practices and more than three decades of experience in injury prevention and management. It is divided into four sections:
Quantifying the value of fitness-for-work assessments.
Implementing the assessment process.
Complying with applicable rules and regulations.
Adopting a comprehensive policy.
A growing number of employers consider fitness-for-work (FFW) assessments an essential contributor to their organization's comprehensive environment, health and safety (EH&S), sustainability and risk management efforts. The inherent value of an objective assessment becomes even more apparent when one considers workforce characteristics that increase injury risk and are largely out of the control of managers. Such factors include aging, comorbid conditions, poor sleep habits and fatigue, smoking, depression and substance abuse.
A FFW assessment is a medical examination designed to assess whether an employee or job applicant has the physical, mental and emotional capacity to perform assigned tasks in a competent manner – and in a way that does not unreasonably threaten safety, health or property.