Making sure you are healthy before heading to work has taken on new meaning since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. People are now far more aware of the potential dangers of spreading diseases if they show up to work feeling ill.
Possibly passing on a respiratory infection is not the only health concern in the workplace, though. There are some jobs where lives could literally be on the line based on whether or not you are physically fit to do your job. When this is the case, pre-employment physicals can be used to help determine whether you are capable of doing your job.
What is a Pre-Employment Physical?
If you are hiring for an open position, wanting to find the most qualified candidate is crucial. This is particularly true where the physical demands of a job are high, or where work related stress could affect the overall health and wellness of some candidates. In these cases, asking potential new hires to undergo physical tests or mental ability tests can be a crucial part of the hiring process. This is particularly true for police and fire departments where job stresses and demands can be intense.
One of the most common pre-employment physicals is the DOT physical. These regular physicals are used to ensure people maintaining a commercial driver’s license are in proper physical, mental, and emotional condition to perform their job in a way that will keep themselves and others safe.
An alternative to putting potential employees through a full physical examination is something called the HPE, or Human Performance Evaluation. This test is not typically performed by a medical doctor, though it does cover many aspects of a candidate’s physical and mental fitness.
Pre-employment physicals are not the only form of medical testing allowed by employers to determine the physical condition of their employees. Some tests like DOT physicals need to be performed regularly during the course of employment. Random drug testing of employees is also allowed to ensure a safe, drug-free work environment.
Administering physical exams to determine a job candidate’s fitness is a very specific kind of medical exam, and a familiarity with the requirements and limitations of the workplace are essential. Since these exams differ slightly from your annual physical, many employers seek out medical providers who routinely perform these kinds of tests.
Is Pre-Employment Screening Discrimination?
Preventing discrimination in the hiring process is important work, and rules governing it are laid out in the Americans with Disabilities Act. This legislation prevents employers from discriminating in employment for several reasons. While the ADA prevents discrimination based on factors like gender or ethnicity, health concerns can be more of a grey area.
Employers are not allowed to look at a potential employee’s medical history, physical ability, and many other parameters when evaluating potential hires. There are some jobs, though, where the physical requirements of the job are rigorous and a physical limitation could make a candidate unfit for a specific job. Where the role of HPEs or physical exams come into play is identifying areas where a person’s physical abilities, mental state, or possible addictive behaviors regarding alcohol or drugs might put themselves or others at risk or be unable to perform the tasks necessary for the specific job in question.
What is Included in a Pre-Employment Physical Exam?
What all you will be tested on during a pre-employment physical depends on what kind of job you are applying for. Typically, a battery of tests will be performed in addition to a basic medical exam. These tests will cover many different aspects of your physical and mental health, as well as drug tests in some cases. Some of the tests likely to be performed include:
- basic vital signs like heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature
- abdominal checkup covering digestive, liver, and other organ health
- lung and heart exam
- skin examination to spot potential issues or symptoms of underlying disease
- drug and alcohol screenings
- vision testing
- hearing conservation or audiometry testing
- TB testing
- blood tests and other lab tests
Can You Fail a Pre-Employment Physical?
The ADA stipulates that employers make reasonable accommodations for employees who have physical limitations. There are limitations, though, to these accommodations. Leaving potential discrimination aside, pre-employment physicals exist to ensure a potential new hire is fit for the job they are applying for. As a result, it is possible that someone who does not meet the job requirements may indeed fail a pre-employment physical.
Failing a pre-employment physical or HPE can happen for a number of reasons, though often failing a drug or alcohol test can be the reason a candidate does not pass. This is particularly common for jobs involving driving or operating heavy machinery where sobriety is of paramount importance.
To help ensure an exam goes smoothly, there are a few things prospective employees can bring to the test. This includes any aids or assistive devices such as hearing aids, glasses, or similar. Additionally, having records of past medical conditions, surgeries, allergies, or current medications can be helpful. It is also a good idea to have any paperwork detailing specific tests that need to be performed related to the potential new job.
Healthcare and the Workplace
When it comes to partnering with businesses to empower employers and protect employees, TrustCare provides more than just pre-employment physicals. Our employer services can help create a culture of well being in the workplace. Helping businesses ensure employees receive the care they need relative to their work environment and required job tasks can keep employees healthier while lowering overall healthcare costs.
TrustCare is more than just an urgent care facility. In addition to full-time clinics that provide COVID-19 testing, we also have staff who specialize in occupational medicine. Both pre-employment physicals and on-site evaluations of our workplace are carried out by trained professionals who are dedicated to giving both employers and employees the best medical help possible. Find out more about our Employer Services and other services such as our Direct Primary Care for Business.