Q?Does OSHA have ergonomic (injury) guidelines?

As an employer you have an obligation under the General Duty Clause, 5(a)(1) to keep your workplace free from serious hazards, including ergonomic hazards. OSHA will cite for ergonomic hazards under the General Duty Clause or issue ergonomic hazard letters where appropriate as part of its overall enforcement program. OSHA encourages employers where necessary to implement effective programs or other measures to reduce ergonomic hazards and associated musculoskeletal disroders.

Q?How will using WORK CAPACITIES services reduce injuries?

Overexertion is a leading cause of injuries to workers performing physically demanding jobs. Overexertion is caused by a mismatch between the worker’s capability and the physical demands of the task. WORK CAPACITIES can help you meet your objectives by indentifying and quantifying the risks and implementing the appropriate plan to reduce those risks.  We may only need some basic ergonomic interventions or we may need to establish a complete program for finding a suitable hire that can safely perform those demanding tasks.  Bottom-line, the more ergonomic issues that are addressed the fewer ergonomic injuries will result.

Q?What is the purpose of a Job Analysis and what about a Job Description Validation?

The main purpose or product of a job analysis is a job description.  Without a thorough job analysis generally you will not have a complete or accurate job description.  Often times the general work duty description is reasonable.  However, the physical demands are not included, are not complete, or they are not accurate.  Without understanding the actual requirements of a task it is not possible to improve the conditions or hire a capable employee.  If you feel your job descriptions are reasonably accurate WORK CAPACITIES can perform a Job Description Validation study and make sure any questionable physical requirements are defined

Q?What is a “musculoskeletal or ergonomic injury”?

Ergonomic injuries are often described by the term “musculoskeletal disorders” or “MSDs.”  All of these terms refer to a group of injuries that affect the musculoskeletal system; there is no single diagnosis for MSDs.  In the work place it is typically the result of ergonomic hazards or the employees physical ability does not match the physical requirements of the jobs.

Q?How do you prevent or reduce “musculoskeletal /ergonomic injury”?

These types of injuries can be reduced or possibly prevented but the challenge can be complex. First we must identify the workplace issue such as an ergonomic hazard or employee without the physical ability for the task.   Then you must closely review the other physical aspects of the job.  To begin this process contact WORK CAPACITIES, we will utilize a job analysis, a job description validation or develop an ergonomic intervention appropriate for your desired results.  Together we can reduce or prevent ergonomic injuries and lower workers compensation costs.

Q?How do I hire physically capable employees?

It’s a process, which always starts with a complete understanding of the job tasks including the type and severity of job requirements.  WORK CAPACITIES can implement a pre-employment or post-hire physical test. The physical tests match human capabilities necessary to perform the job. Each test type has certain advantages and possibly certain disadvantages. Selection of the test type depends on the situation in which it will be used. Please contact WORK CAPACITIES to discuss the details of your ergonomic situation.

Q?What benefits can be expected from instituting Physical Abilities Testing?

Bottom line… you can expect fewer injuries.  However we don’t recommend just jumping into a pre-employment or post hire physical test.  Remember it’s a program that starts with understanding the ergonomic challenges of a job and looking for cost effective corrective measure.  Sometimes the best corrective measure is a simple low cost solution; other times the physical challenge of a job could result in physical abilities testing.   Please contact WORK CAPACITIES and together we will find the most cost effective approach to help your organization reduce or eliminate ergonomic injuries. 

Q?Does post hire physical testing require validation?

Yes, when you implement post hire physical testing a validation study or data result is required. The study or data must establish an observed relationship between the worker’s duties on the job and physical strength testing. The validation study will demonstrate that a passing result on the physical test is related to safe performance on the job.

Q?How much do these services cost?

Cost depends on many factors and generally WORK CAPACITIES will provide the initial consultation free of charge.  During the first visit we can identify the type of service and the scope of the project.  Depending on your objectives and the time frame involved, WORK CAPACITIES can develop a service program that will save you money.  When considering the cost of service don’t forget the National Safety Council cost injury formula:

An employee injury with a direct cost of $5000.00 is expected to carry indirect cost of approximately $20,000.00 bringing the total cost to $25000.00

Q?Who uses Pre-employment and Post Hire Physical Testing?

Many employers are instituting strength testing programs for new hires.  Testing is very common for police and fire services.  Testing can be found in the truck industry, oil industry, the grocery warehouse, beverage business, gas and other utilities use strength testing for physically demanding jobs.

Q?Which medical panels is Work Capacities listed as a preferred provider?

The following medical panels have Work Capacities listed as a preferred provider:

Oregon Health Systems (SAIF)

Abeton / Examworks

Medical Consultants Network

MES Solutions

Oregon Medical Evaluations

Orthopaedic Consultants

Star Medical

Sunrise Medical Consultants –

Washington Labor and Industries

Q?My insurance company is sending me for a physical capacity eval, they say my doctors have conflicting reports.

Medicine is not an exact science.  Three doctors may have three differing opinions regarding your medical status.  Most insurers are requesting specific opinions in order to move your case toward a successful closure.  By undergoing job specific testing, often times these questions can be addressed in a manner that the insurer, doctor, worker, attorney and/ or vocational consultant can understand.

Q?When do I refer a worker for a PCE test?

An PCE can be performed safely during any stage of the rehabilitation process. The PCE results can be used at the beginning of rehabilitation as a baseline measurement or at the end of rehabilitation to help establish disability status or readiness to return to work.

Q?How do I know a PCE is valid or invalid?

When you receive your copy of the PCE, it will indicate if the test is considered valid or invalid based on the worker’s level of effort.  The PCE includes a battery of standardized work-related functional activities using a one-day or two-day format. A one-day test is recommended for a worker that most likely will return to his regular job at injury.  The two day test is recommended for in the clinic standardized testing combined with on the work site testing.  This approach provides specific task analysis and videotaping of the worker performing tasks required for regular work.  Our approach combines the highest level of safety with objective findings.

Q?Who should be referred for a Physical Capacity Test?

The following  workers would be appropriate for a PCE test:

Those who-

  1. Have achieved maximum medical improvement but continue having issues related to return to work and/or re-injury
  2. Need quantification of their physical capacities for determination of disability status
  3. Need their function quantified prior to job search and/or job placement, return to work
  4. Require quantification of their work abilities for medical legal reasons
Q?Will I be sore after my Physical Capacity Test?

The activities may cause mild discomfort the following day or so, but this is to be expected and will be discussed with you by your therapist.  If you note moderate discomfort, you may be appropriate for work conditioning.  You are encouraged to discuss this with your physician.

Q?What will I be doing in the PCE test?

During the Physical Capacity Testing, you will be asked to perform certain tasks as they relate to work abilities.  These tasks include lifting, carrying and pushing/ pulling of various amounts of weight.  Range of motion and positional tasks are observed and documented.  Please wear comfortable clothing or if you prefer, the clothing and boots you would normally wear for work.  Please bring in any assistive devices such as braces, splints, supports, etc. that you have been or are currently using.

Q?How do I know if I can go back to work?

Every job varies, but the PCE will give you and your therapist a complete understanding of your current limitations.  Going from light duty (or no duty) to regular work can be a difficult transition.  If the job requires much heavier lift/ carry tasks, the worker may need a course of work conditioning.