Doctor walking patient through a pre-placement exam.

What You Need to Know About Pre-placement Exams

Morgan Grant

Pre-placement exams help ensure that your prospective employee can safely perform the job they’re applying for. Because of this, pre-placement exams are an important part of the onboarding process – especially for physically intensive jobs.

Although what’s included in the exams varies by job, there is a basic structure to the testing process. As an employer, you may be curious about what these exams entail, and for good reason. In your business, safety and compliance comes first. It’s crucial to ensure you do everything you can to keep your workplace safe.

The ADA and Pre-placement Exams

First, it’s important to note that the word “pre-placement” is used for a very specific reason. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) states that it is illegal for an employer to conduct any physical examinations before offering a candidate a job. The physical exam must take place after an offer has been made, but can be before performance of first-day duties. If the prospective employee fails the pre-placement exam after accepting their offer, the employer has the legal right to take the job off the table.

The Clinician’s Responsibility

When clinicians are assessing patients, they consider the job description, work environment, and medical history to assess health risks and hazards. They also assess Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations to monitor and screen patients for health hazards from products or environmental exposure of substances within the industry. Knowing this information helps confirm that essential components have been selected, while also meeting OSHA and industry standards.

The Pre-placement Examination Candidate Form

Before your employee enters the examination room, they’ll be asked to fill out a physical examination form. The form includes questions about:

  • Previous employment
  • Past illnesses and hospitalizations
  • Past exposure risks
  • Current medications or supplements
  • Impairments that would prevent them from completing certain job tasks

What’s in a Pre-placement Physical Examination?

Concentra pre-placement exams vary based on job type, and we can tailor an exam to the job description. Typically, we evaluate a job’s physical demands and put together exam elements that match the tasks the employee will be performing.

Most physical exams include but are not limited to the following:

Visual acuity and vital signs: We’ll check blood pressure, pulse, and respiration rate. We also record weight, height, and vision.

Examination of the head, eyes, ears, nose, and throat: We’ll look for any deformities or abnormalities that could interfere with the job duties outlined in the job description.

Abdomen: We check for hernias or other abnormal masses that present an immediate issue.

Musculoskeletal examination: We analyze muscle tone, strength, and stability. This includes an examination of the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, hips, thighs, knees, ankles, feet, and thoracic, lumbar, and cervical spine.

Neurological evaluation: We evaluate reflexes and coordination to check for proper balance.

Other Types of Tests

These procedures are not part of our standard pre-placement exam, but can be ordered if they are consistent with the physical demands as requested by the employer.
Isokinetic testing: A method of exercise that provides variable resistance to certain movements. Generally, we’ll test a person’s isokinetic strength and then compare it to a measured norm.

Dynamic lift testing: The dynamic lift test tests the capability/output of certain muscle groups against internal and external forces. This usually involves lifting actual parts of equipment from the job or performing a simulation using weights, lift boxes, or carts and sleds.

Aerobic testing: This test examines the maximum amount of aerobic physiological work that an individual can do by using treadmills, arm bikes, bicycles or step platforms to measure oxygen consumption.

Concentra physical therapists will work with you to ensure your prospective employees are receiving pre-placement exams that match the needs of the job you’re offering. You can rest assured that your new employees can safely perform the tasks to the best of their ability, enhancing the safety of the new employee, their co-workers, and the public they serve.