In the world of jobs which require physical labor, back injuries — or any injury caused by physical overexertion — can cost money. Time off the job affects the employee’s ability to earn a wage and being a man (or woman) down impacts the company’s bottom line as well. Work related musculoskeletal injuries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accounts for one in three on-the-job injuries in the United States. While nothing is fool proof when it comes to preventing on-the-job injuries, there are options available to help an employer identify whether their employees are physically up to the task at hand.
One way is the ERGO physical, or Lift Test. Lawn care, construction, warehousing, first responder (i.e. police and fire) are just a few examples of jobs that can require heavy lifting and carrying on a daily basis. In reality, any physically demanding job should require a physical. An ERGO physical is designed to determine the ability of your employees or prospective employees to safely handle the tasks at hand. Can they move lumber all day without struggle? Can they walk back and forth in a 10,000 square foot warehouse all day without physical complaint? It also gives a good reference point to the employee or prospect as to their overall physical health and joint function. In other words, it will give them a peek into whether or not they really can physically handle the job.
The ERGO physical starts with a questionnaire, the answers to which will help the test administrator understand before beginning, any known limitations or health conditions. Typical questions would be whether the employee has in the past five years had any injuries, joint issues, hernias or diseases like arthritis or rheumatism. Other questions might be whether they have held physically demanding jobs in the past, or whether they will require any special accommodations to perform the job for which they are applying. The tester will need to know about any spinal problems or history of chronic conditions. All of these are designed to give the tester a starting point for the assessment and helps them to conduct the test under the safest conditions.
The next step — the testing itself. The employee will be asked to lift and carry a specific amount of weight, also to lift and pile a specific amount of weight, known as a frequent lift. Some companies require 75 pounds, some only require 50. Many people think they would have no problem carrying 50 pounds, but can they carry 50 pounds over and over in a day? Another very important part of the exam is the mobility testing. Kneeling, climbing, bending, reaching and squatting. Each requires a certain number of repetitions in order to pass, most often from 10 to 20 for each movement. This will allow the tester to observe any limitations the employee may have, whether they struggle with a task or grimace as though in pain while executing any of the moves or lifts. All are indicators of whether the person is physically fit enough to do the job.
It is important to remember that any testing in preparation for a physical job is in the best interest of not only the employer, but the employee or employee prospect as well. Who wants to take a job only to find out after a few weeks that they couldn’t hack it? At I & O Medical Centers, ERGO Physicals are just one of the ways we help employers in Hampton Roads hire and maintain a healthy work force. Call any I & O Medical Centers location and ask for the Client Services Representative to find out how to set up testing for your employees today.