Post Offer Employment Testing

In this episode of Fit for Duty, host Dr. Larry Earl, along with guest Dena Kirk, an occupational health expert, delve into the importance of post-offer employment testing (POET) for workplace safety and productivity. They discuss the difference between POET and pre-employment physicals, the relevance of essential job functions as defined by the ADA, and the variety of industries that benefit from POET.

The episode covers the benefits of these tests in identifying potential musculoskeletal issues before employment, ensuring ADA compliance, and reducing the risk of workplace injuries. It also touches on the legal aspects and steps involved in implementing an effective POET program within companies, including data analysis, job site assessments, and the role of technology in future assessments.

The discussion underlines the importance of engaging qualified professionals, such as physical and occupational therapists, in designing and conducting these evaluations to ensure workplace safety and compliance with legal standards.

Key Topics:

* Welcome to Fit for Duty: Unraveling Occupational Health

* Spotlight on Dena Kirk: A Career in Occupational Medicine

* Deep Dive into Post Offer Employment Testing (POET)

* The Benefits and Implementation of POET

* Navigating Legal Risks and ADA Compliance in POET

* The Future of POET: Technology and Trends

* Advice for Employers Considering POET Programs

* Conclusion and Final Thoughts

Thanks for tuning in to the Fit for Duty Podcast. Please help us by liking, rating, and subscribing to the channel. It really helps others find this show and benefit from its content. See you on the next one!

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[00:00:00] host: Greetings and welcome to Fit for Duty. I'm Dr. Larry Earl, your host and president of the National Association of Occupational Health Professionals. Today, we'll explore the world of occupational health, unraveling the complexities of [00:00:20] OSHA regulated exams, workers compensation cases, drug testing, and injury care strategies.

[00:00:26] host: We'll also examine prevention strategies. Total person health analytics and interventions discussing innovative approaches to preventing workplace injuries and illnesses. Using total person health analytics to [00:00:40] identify underlying factors contributing to workplace health issues and showcasing successful interventions.

[00:00:47] host: that have improved employee health and well being. Fit for Duty provides a holistic approach to occupational health, empowering organizations to create healthier, more productive workplaces. Join us as we push the [00:01:00] boundaries, break down silos, and bridge theory and practice.

[00:01:04] host: Dena Kirk has been serving business and industry for nearly 26 years as an occupational therapist with a background in treating workers comp patients, performing functional capacity evaluations, [00:01:20] ergonomic studies, and job demand analyses. Her passion led her to a long time career in occupational medicine.

[00:01:27] host: She's currently serving as the director for occupational medicine and outpatient rehab services for Southern Illinois Health. Her desire and drive to build relationships with people helped facilitate growth in [00:01:40] achieving additional certifications and education through obtaining her MBA, Executive Coaching certification, and certification as an Occupational Health Program Manager.

[00:01:51] host: She serves as a consultant for companies in Southern Illinois, addressing lost time days and developing on site services to reduce workers comp [00:02:00] costs. She currently serves on the National Association of Occupational Health Professionals, NAOHP, Advisory Board, and speaks at the annual NAOHP Conference.

[00:02:10] host: In this episode of Fit for Duty, Dena and I discuss post offer employment testing, including definitions, Benefits, implementation steps, [00:02:20] legal risks, and future trends, such as AI technology for assessments. We emphasize the importance of thorough assessments, relationship building, involving employees in test design, ADA compliance, and compliance.

[00:02:34] host: And the need for qualified providers in conducting physical abilities exams. Thanks for tuning into this [00:02:40] episode of Fit for Duty. I'm your host, Dr. Larry Earl.

[00:02:49] host: And welcome back to this episode of Fit for Duty post offer employment testing with our special guest, always a pleasure, Dena Kirk, uh, [00:03:00] welcome. Dena, of course, is NAOHP Advisory Board Member and the Director of Occupational Medicine at Southern Illinois Health, as well as Outpatient Rehab Director, if I'm not mistaken.

[00:03:16] host: So, uh, yeah, we're gonna, we're gonna [00:03:20] get all of the goodies about post offer employment testing on the table today. So let's get started with the questions. Could you, first of all, just give us a clear definition of post offer employment testing? Why is that different than just saying pre employment physical?

[00:03:38] guest: Yeah. So, you know, [00:03:40] the pre employment physical, the way I like to describe it is your regular medical physical, where you see the physician or a mid level and they're looking at the medical piece. the post offer employment test, it's, it's a next, it's the next step. And, not all companies, offer those.

[00:03:56] guest: however, that next step, it's really what I [00:04:00] call post offer. The physical part of the test, the push, pull, carry, and it's really assessing, the physical demands of the job and making sure that the employee or potential employee, if you will, meets the physical demands of a particular, uh, position.

[00:04:19] host: Yeah, really [00:04:20] physical abilities testing. So the, the pre employment physical refers to. The medical provider doing a typical medical exam and looking perhaps for physical, medical ailments that may be an obstacle or require some accommodation on the job. And the post [00:04:40] offer, uh, post offer employment exam is really about physical abilities testing.

[00:04:47] host: Are they physically capable of performing whatever tasks are required of the job?

[00:04:53] guest: Yes. And you know, one thing I want to add with, the post offer employment test, there's, there's a [00:05:00] piece of that test that we call the essential functions of the job. Okay? And, you know, I just want to touch on that. The easiest way I can describe the essential functions is If the employee didn't show up for work today, could anybody just step [00:05:20] into that, that position, okay?

[00:05:22] guest: Or, what would be the essential pieces? That would be required for somebody else to step in and do that job, right? Whether it's a license, a certification, or, you know, what does that look like? And so when we do that, we also outline what [00:05:40] those essential functions are.

[00:05:41] host: Yeah. And that's really a term that comes from the ADA, right?

[00:05:45] host: The Americans with Disabilities Act is the essential elements of a job that may require an accommodation under ADA. It's the same kind of concept that allows us to do a POET [00:06:00] procedure.

[00:06:01] guest: Absolutely.

[00:06:02] host: So what kinds of industries, what kind of jobs are we talking about? Are these just strictly, you know, heavy duty, lifting, pushing, pulling jobs?

[00:06:10] guest: Well, one would think, oh, you're looking at manufacturing and construction industries. And obviously, yes, we do a lot with manufacturing, construction, the coal [00:06:20] industry. We also do a lot with our own, uh, with health care. Uh, we do a lot with health care, uh, nursing, patient handling. So, the best way to describe who needs a poet, it would be somebody that has a position that's physical, physically demanding, [00:06:40] anything where they're lifting, pushing, pulling, or, or doing physical work that I would consider even over 20 pounds.

[00:06:48] host: Okay, good. So what are the benefits of POETS? Can you elaborate a little bit on how these tests help reduce workplace injuries? That's why we're doing them, right?

[00:06:57] guest: Yeah, absolutely. So there's [00:07:00] multiple benefits and honestly, Dr. Earle, I could probably utilize the rest of our time today just to talk about all the different benefits.

[00:07:09] host: All right, I'll give you, I'll give you four minutes on this piece.

[00:07:11] guest: Yeah, So really the first, the first benefit by doing a post offer employment [00:07:20] test is to identify if there's anything else going on, okay? So we like to do a musculoskeletal assessment, you know, You know, raise your arms up over your head, put your arms out to the side.

[00:07:32] guest: Like, what does that look like? And if the, potential employee cannot raise their arms up over their head, [00:07:40] and they're only able to do this, we document. What's going on with that shoulder? and we can document, we can measure. It doesn't mean that they're not going to get the position, okay? But it allows us to take some really good notes, and then it also allows us to start questioning.

[00:07:57] guest: What's going on there? [00:08:00] Okay, we have found even by doing some post offer employment tests, there are some things that we have uncovered, whether maybe they've got significant, you know, carpal tunnel syndrome, maybe they've got, a previous rotator cuff injury, Right? You don't want to hire someone that has a rotator cuff injury.[00:08:20]

[00:08:21] guest: You're going to end up paying for it. So we identify, you know, lots of things, you know, by doing the musculoskeletal assessment, asking lots of questions, and then putting the employee through the test. Basically, we provide the company with, [00:08:40] they either meet the physical demands of the job, or they do not meet the physical demands of the job.

[00:08:46] host: So that's just

[00:08:47] guest: one benefit.

[00:08:48] host: Yeah, and even if they have a pre existing injury or limitation, you're still assessing whether they can do the job, right? Because the ADA says that they [00:09:00] could only be restricted from the job if there's an imminent chance of harm. Yeah. to themselves or, or their worker, their coworkers.

[00:09:08] host: Right? So even if they have a preexisting condition, you've identified that, but that just gives you sort of a, a higher attention level to whether or not, they're going to be able to perform that job [00:09:20] doesn't, doesn't automatically rule it out.

[00:09:23] guest: Absolutely. You know, and I think that's where the ADA comes in.

[00:09:26] guest: so if they cannot do a specific task because they can't, you know, raise their arm up over their head and the job requires that, then it's up to the company. Yeah. Is there an accommodation?

[00:09:37] host: Is there, is there some sort of a [00:09:40] lifting? Device that can do that piece, right? Yeah. So, and if, if that's a reasonable for the company, then that's for them to decide if they can provide that.

[00:09:49] guest: Another piece, as far as the benefits. So once that test has been set up, you can also use the same test. So now we've used it for pre employment. [00:10:00] You can also use it on the end. they call it a fit for duty. So if somebody's off for a work comp injury. Or maybe they're just off for a regular, you know, medical, issue where maybe somebody's had, you know, a surgical procedure and they're coming back to work after being on FMLA.

[00:10:16] guest: We can put them back through that same exact [00:10:20] test to make sure they're safe to go back to work.

[00:10:22] host: Yeah. So then in that case, it's, it's a fitness for duty, but still using the same concepts and procedures. Yeah. Very good. So we talked a little bit about about injury reduction in terms of benefits of POETS.

[00:10:36] host: Does it offer any other advantages to the [00:10:40] to the Achmed client? Lower insurance costs, improved worker retention, do those things come into play?

[00:10:46] guest: Um, I have seen it. Yes, I have seen it come into play, especially when we're in the the test development phase. I think the current employees, I think We get a lot of buy [00:11:00] in from them.

[00:11:00] guest: They like the fact that their company isn't going to hire somebody. They can't pull their that's another piece. Yes. they like the fact that they're, they're taking them through the test and they, Know that if they're not able to lift, push, pull, and carry, or even get down on their [00:11:20] knees to crawl, like, you know, you may have to do in a certain positions or a coal industry.

[00:11:25] guest: Yeah, in the mining operations, certainly, right?

[00:11:29] host: Yeah, you do a lot. Do you have any, I know you have lots of mining stories. Do you have, do you have a story about, uh, the mining, uh, [00:11:40] mining groups using poets?

[00:11:44] guest: Yes, I have several stories. I know you do. You'll, you'll find, you know, quite comical. So, one of the, the tests that we utilize, we have the, the coal miner to actually carry their cinder [00:12:00] blocks.

[00:12:01] guest: And they carry the cinder blocks in each hand. They'll carry them, you know, up a set of stairs, they'll carry them down, then they have to set them down. So they're doing a lot of carrying, lifting, and one of the coal miners said, oh, we need to add this to the test. And I said, what are you [00:12:20] talking about?

[00:12:20] guest: And he said, well, if you ever see two cinder blocks, next to each other, you know, in the coal mines, don't go near it. If they're just standing up next to it, don't go near it. And I said, well, why? And he said, well, he said in the, in the coal mine, They utilize those cinder blocks to sit on if they have to use the [00:12:40] restroom.

[00:12:40] guest: Oh, okay. So, all right, that was interesting to me.

[00:12:46] host: All right, let's do a clear of those cinder blocks.

[00:12:50] guest: That's right.

[00:12:51] host: Let's talk about implementation and costs. Uh, what are the key steps a company needs to take in order to implement an effective POET [00:13:00] program?

[00:13:01] guest: You know, I think we get a lot of companies that call And they want us to test something.

[00:13:07] guest: Hey, we need a test. We need you to test our employee, make sure they're, you know, fit for the job. And, you know, people don't know what they don't know. so we first ask, well, do you have a current test that maybe somebody else has done that [00:13:20] we can take a look at? No, no, we just want to make sure that they're, they're fit for the job.

[00:13:25] guest: And so, every, Organizational, uh, OCMED clinics, they may do things differently. Uh, but I can tell you in our, OCMED experience and even with my rehab background, we want to make sure that we've dotted our [00:13:40] I's and crossed our T's. So, to give you an example, the first step that we would want to, to look at, first, do they really need a POET?

[00:13:50] guest: So we want to look at the data. If the data, does not show that it's a physically demanding position, then [00:14:00] you may not need to invest in a poet. even in our healthcare organization, we don't test every single job code. We only test the job codes of the nurses, the transporters, the therapists, People that are doing physical work.

[00:14:15] guest: And so first we want to look at the datathe second thing we want to do is looking [00:14:20] at that data make sure that we're identifying the physical demands. Like what jobs, you know, do you have a hard time filling or the most physically demanding in your organization? so we want to look at that. And then the second thing we want to do is we really want to go on site and we got, we want to [00:14:40] see what that job looks like.

[00:14:41] guest: And, you know, we take lots of tools with us. we take, tape measures. I mean, we have a bag. That has all of our tools and so we can see like what what is the force required if I have to push this onto a conveyor belt or what is the force required or the [00:15:00] weight if I have to pick this box up from the floor and so we do a pretty thorough assessment of what that looks like and then we take all of that information back to the clinic and we design a test.

[00:15:16] guest: Okay, based on what we saw, during that eight hour [00:15:20] workday, and we create a test. Well, just because we create a test, doesn't mean that the people that are currently in that job can pass it. So, after we've created the test, we have to create validity and reliability. [00:15:40] And so we bring, current employees who are doing the job and we bring them in and we're like, we need your help.

[00:15:46] guest: We need your help. We try to get a nice range. I mean, we can't just bring all the 20 year olds in. And so we look at, a range between, you know, You know, maybe it's the 20 year olds, the 30s, the 40s, and the 50 [00:16:00] year olds. And we want to make sure that they, one, we're getting some buy in to the test, but two, we want to make sure that they can pass the test.

[00:16:10] guest: And so based on that test, we ask them, is this too hard, too easy? Just about right. Yeah.

[00:16:18] host: Yeah. How representative [00:16:20] is it that it reflects your actual job that you do all day long?

[00:16:24] guest: Right. And you would be surprised. There have been many times, some of the employees are like, this is, this, this is too hard.

[00:16:32] guest: Like they don't need to do this. They don't need to be this hard. Yeah. Yes. So give us some feedback. And so then they help create that. And [00:16:40] then we provide all of that documentation. We've got the, uh, the employee's name. We've got their, their birth date, how long they've worked at the company. We have all of this data, and so now we have create, uh, we create a report for the company, and we have a test that shows there is some reliability and [00:17:00] validity behind it, and now it is set up for all new hires.

[00:17:04] host: Yeah, interesting. So when you talking about looking at the data, are you looking at OSHA recordable injuries? Are you looking at their existing job descriptions? You described creating a functional job [00:17:20] description by going on site and doing all these things, right? You're creating that, uh, sort of, ADA, sit, stand, carry, push, pull, you know, uh, crawl, uh, all of those different attributes of the job, right?

[00:17:36] host: That's the functional job description. So what about the other data? What are you [00:17:40] looking at specifically?

[00:17:42] guest: Well, when it comes to data, they, you, you can never provide us with too much data. So we want anything that they're willing to share and to give us. So. What are your work concurrent rates? What are your mod rates?

[00:17:57] guest: What are your dart rates? What are, what are your OSHA [00:18:00] recordables? and really kind of look at a history and be able to, to go through and say, wow. so we did just create. a glorified job description or a poet for line A, but you know, we might want to look at line B as well. Um, [00:18:20] it looks like based on this data, you've had a lot of injuries over the last three years on this particular line.

[00:18:26] guest: I wonder what's going on. And it can kind of be overwhelming, especially to a company when costs are we have to be able to, to look and say, okay, let's start here.let's do this first. This would be [00:18:40] phase one. And then once we finish this, we'll move on to phase two. And then hopefully,within the year, you know, we have several, Different poets that we have created for your company and that you can utilize moving forward.

[00:18:53] host: So what, what would be a typical cost for doing something like that? If you had to go out on site and [00:19:00] evaluate, let's just say one job, right? You're evaluating, uh, as you've described, you're taking dynametric measurements of what the forces involved are and looking at all the different activities that someone has to do.

[00:19:13] host: And in their eight hour shift, uh, in creating that How do you put that together in terms of what is, what does it [00:19:20] cost them? And then how are you going to project like a savings and an ROI for them to go through those costs?

[00:19:26] guest: Yes. Yes. And, for us, you know, some people, you know, it may be different for, for different companies.

[00:19:34] guest: So I can give you an example. Uh, when you're looking at your return on investment, one, you got to look [00:19:40] the cost of the employee that you're sending to do, um, And then also the number of poets that you're going to develop for the company. So we typically give our companies a discount. If they do, uh, implement more than four tests, then [00:20:00] we'll typically give them a 20 percent savings.

[00:20:03] guest: Okay, so the more the more that they utilize us the better discount that they'll get but on average I would say It ranges anywhere from 100 to 150 dollars an hour It kind of gives you a starting point. [00:20:20] Okay. Again, it's a range. but you also have to look at, you know, the benefits of what you're also utilizing for that employee.

[00:20:29] guest: So to give you an example, let's just say I have a physical therapist and I'm paying that physical therapist 10, 000. 50 an hour. We'll just use that. [00:20:40] Well, your benefits, meaning your health insurance and your benefits, you gotta tack that on too, right? And so we usually add an additional 30% Okay, just to make sure that you're, you're at least cutting yourself clearing even.

[00:20:56] guest: and then if there's any buffer [00:21:00] there, obviously you want to make sure that you're getting at a minimum, minimum of 20 to 25 percent profit.but you know, when you're working with companies, I think those are, those are things you have to sit down and discuss with and just be open, honest, and transparent.

[00:21:18] guest: About what that looks [00:21:20] like, as far as when, when you're talking about the costs and what all that entails. Because the last thing you want to do is shock a company with several thousand dollars, you know, for you to come in and develop a test.

[00:21:32] host: But you're talking about for, for one, for one position to have a therapist go out and spend, what, a couple hours, two or [00:21:40] three hours?

[00:21:42] host: So you're talking a few hundred dollars to do a functional job description, not thousands of dollars, right? I'm talking maybe two or three hundred dollars to do a functional job description, that potentially is gonna design. A poet that will save them tens of thousands of [00:22:00] dollars a year.

[00:22:00] guest: Yes.

[00:22:01] host: Right.

[00:22:01] host: Yes. So it should be, it should be well worth it.

[00:22:05] guest: Yes. Yes. We always tell people one work comp claim more than covers the cost.

[00:22:11] host: Well, one work comp claim, uh, most companies have to set aside, or at least their adjusters have to set aside [00:22:20] 40, 000.

[00:22:22] guest: Yes

[00:22:22] host: for a typical comp claim Uh, so yeah, it could be well worth it to save one work comp injury Uh good.

[00:22:30] host: So not we talked about not every job requires Or warrants a poet and a little bit about how we work with the company to figure out what [00:22:40] positions? And we talked about already kind of the process of analyzing those physical demands to translate that into the poet. So once you've, so once you've figured out the physical demands, you've designed a test, You've, uh, uh, validated it by having employees who are already working in [00:23:00] that job go through the test.

[00:23:02] host: and how many, like, how many employees do you try to get to do that? You said you want to have a range, right? You have a 20 year old, you have a 50 year old who's been doing it for 30 years. uh, how many folks, uh, do you need to have that validation?

[00:23:16] guest: We like to have anywhere between three to [00:23:20] five.

[00:23:20] guest: Five's great, because it gives us a little, a better range, but at very minimum, a minimum of three.

[00:23:27] host: So you'll ask those folks to actually come into the clinic. Yes. So there is a cost to the company for that as well, right? They have to pay those people to come into the clinic and do the test. So whatever their hourly rate is, [00:23:40] plus, um, So, so it could, could be a thousand or a couple thousand dollars by the time they just do this assessment, right?

[00:23:47] host: By the time they're paying people and, and doing all that. Yeah. but again, we're talking about saving tens of thousands for maybe a thousand or two thousand dollar investment, right?

[00:23:57] guest: Correct.

[00:23:57] host: Yeah. What about the risks? Are there [00:24:00] legal risks for companies that, that they should be aware of regarding performing the POETS?

[00:24:05] host: We talked about ADA compliance. Are there pitfalls there?

[00:24:11] guest: I think by not doing all the steps, I think there's more risk, for a company that [00:24:20] may just give you something in hand, that says, we, we want to do this, we want to implement this particular test.and we've done that for companies, but we make sure that we, that they sign off knowing that our recommendation would be this, but if this is the test that they [00:24:40] want us to do or to perform with employees, we're happy to do that.

[00:24:45] guest: However, I think there's a lot more risks if you don't follow the proper steps to make sure that the test is a reliable estimate of what that job entails.

[00:24:58] host: And what about [00:25:00] ADA compliance?

[00:25:02] guest: Yes. So when we talk about the ADA compliance, you know, and those are things that I always kind of push back on, on some companies.

[00:25:10] guest: when we, you know, look through the, the information that, that they want, you know, sometimes they'll find some tests off the, off the internet. And they're like, Oh, we want to, we want to implement [00:25:20] this. so we, that's one thing I always push back. on, you know, the ADA piece and by doing that, you know, when we provide the company with information, they get a pass or a fail, okay, or a meets and doesn't meet the physical needs, meets

[00:25:36] host: physical demands of the job.

[00:25:37] host: Yeah,

[00:25:38] guest: yes, yes, but [00:25:40] in regards to the ADA, and I'm glad that you brought that up. You know, we would basically say they meet the physical demands of the job with the exception of this Okay So that's all they get They meet the physical demands of the job, however, there's this other little thing, [00:26:00] and that requires a conversation.

[00:26:02] guest: And so, to give you an example, I might have a guy to, to crawl, and he gets down, he struggles with getting down on the floor and back up. And I notice, tell me about that, what's going on with that knee? And he says, oh, I have a prosthetic leg. [00:26:20] Okay, well, let's talk about that. Now, obviously, the company's not going to hire him because he has a prosthetic leg.

[00:26:29] guest: He just required a little more assistance with getting down on the floor and getting back up. Now, we noted it. Okay, and we talked to the company about it and they [00:26:40] made reasonable accommodations.

[00:26:41] host: So there's an accommodation recommendation that uh, Well, so you didn't make the recommendation at that point, but you may make a recommendation sometimes for accommodations.

[00:26:51] guest: For accommodations. Yes.

[00:26:53] host: Sure. Yeah, very know, we talked about uh, legal risks [00:27:00] a little bit. And you mentioned that there, you know, there may be more of a risk of someone getting injured than a legal risk of doing the test. So the important thing I think is that, again, with any kind of exam or test, it has to be It has to be [00:27:20] given to everybody who's in that position, right?

[00:27:22] host: It's just the legal risk is really when you're picking out and kind of picking on somebody because of some preconceived notion you might have as an employer. You can't do that, right? It has to be, it has to be fair and equitable. Everybody who's in the position has to go through the same procedure. So if it requires a poet for [00:27:40] that job, everybody's got to do it.

[00:27:42] host: You can't pick and choose.

[00:27:44] guest: That's correct. And you know, we get that a lot too, Dr. Earl. We get a lot of companies that call and they'll have somebody that they're wanting to pick and choose. They're like, Hey, you know, Mr. John's getting ready to come back for work. And we know that he is not ready to come back for work.

[00:27:58] guest: We want you to test him. We want [00:28:00] you to test him. Well, we can't do that. However, we can make recommendations of some other things they can do in order, you know, to, to get the answers that they want. But, you'd be surprised, the amount of phone calls that we get for, you know, trying to [00:28:20] pick and choose.

[00:28:21] host: And, uh, and you know, that's sort of a fitness for duty question, too. Uh, cause you'll get that for people who have been out on medical leave. Right? They'll, they'll be sent in for a fitness for duty exam. So, ideally, like you mentioned before, they've already done that POET for the job when they were hired.

[00:28:39] host: And [00:28:40] now when they're coming in after an injury or after a medical illness or some other reason that they're, maybe their physical or medical condition has changed, they're now coming in for a fitness for duty. So it should all be the same procedure, right? That should already be established.

[00:28:54] guest: It is. Same test.

[00:28:55] host: And, and that's how you keep yourself out of compliance. [00:29:00] Trouble is if you've already have established policies and procedures for that position, and you're not just making it up as you go along because, uh, you know, someone is an outlier that you didn't expect. You really have to plan this in advance. We just had a member call in about, as you said, yeah, we have this [00:29:20] random request for a company to, uh, to qualify people to be able to lift 70 pounds.

[00:29:28] host: Right? And they don't know anything about the job or anything about what, uh, Is required of the job except the company is just asking do a test to see if they can lift 70 pounds [00:29:40] Well, how often do they have to lift 70 pounds? Do they have to lift it from the floor to waste from waste to a shelf? How do they have to lift that 70 pounds?

[00:29:49] host: How often how awkward is it? You know many many different things Come into play. And that's where you, you know, your measurements and the other tools that we have, like [00:30:00] the NIOSH lifting tool and all those types of things can be part of what you have to do to really figure this out. Right.

[00:30:07] guest: Absolutely. And, you know, even the environment.

[00:30:10] guest: Yeah. I mean, are they doing this outside on, you know, concrete? Are they doing it in the grass? Are they doing, do they have to carry it across rock?

[00:30:19] host: Yeah.

[00:30:19] guest: you know, [00:30:20] those are other things you gotta, you have to consider.

[00:30:21] host: Or in the mine.

[00:30:24] guest: Right.

[00:30:26] host: So this is not something That absolutely every, uh, urgent care practice, for instance, that does a little bit of occupational medicine services is really going to be comfortable with, right?

[00:30:38] host: You're really going to, you need to have [00:30:40] someone who has some knowledge about creating these, uh, physical abilities exams. Usually it's a therapist, right? Usually a physical therapist. potentially an OT. I know you're an OT. You do these. What other types of roles can be trained to do this? Is it really physical therapists, [00:31:00] OTs, maybe athletic trainers can do it?

[00:31:04] guest: Absolutely. We use PTs, we use OTs, uh, PTAs and COTAs, and we also utilize athletic trainers. Yeah. All of those, carry a license with your state, and they're certainly qualified to do those, [00:31:20] but they need to go through some extensive training to make sure that they can identify things that may Be off or because they are making an assessment.

[00:31:30] host: Yeah, and there are some organizations that provide a Qualification for that type of training.

[00:31:39] guest: Yes.

[00:31:39] host: [00:31:40] Yeah, very good. So what you know, there's a lot of Technology out there now. I wanted to get into sort of what change what trends or changes Do we, that we might expect in this whole area of a poet exam. So we see a lot of technology, AI technology that can, [00:32:00] that can assess just by a video, uh, assessment, uh, how people move in their body mechanics.

[00:32:08] host: maybe not necessarily how they're lifting unless it's actually recording, uh, some kind of movement. Some actual weight but Are you familiar with any of that technology? How do you think that's going to change the [00:32:20] way that we do these going forward?

[00:32:22] guest: so well, it's it's already changed some already so just like you and I are doing a you know A video recording we have that capability to do the same thing in the industry I could literally sit right here in my office And they could set up a [00:32:40] computer and I could watch and I could do an ergonomic assessment I could provide them with some of the tools And I could, be able to create an assessment, without even going out to the, to the manufacturing facility.

[00:32:52] guest: Now, I'll be honest, I don't really prefer to do it that way, uh, because you lose a lot. when you can't go out and, [00:33:00] and shake somebody's hand in person or in develop a relationship, those are pieces that you'll lose if you're not there in person. So if I, if I have a choice, I would rather be in person.

[00:33:11] guest: Have we done it virtually? Absolutely. Yeah,

[00:33:13] host: you know, that really is so, so important. You know, you talk a lot about relationship building. We have [00:33:20] many sessions with you about that. And, uh, can't agree enough the, the importance of physically going to a workplace. I mean, how many times an employer just, you know, is, is, uh, In awe that a medical provider from your practice is [00:33:40] coming out to the workplace and actually Performing these assessments.

[00:33:44] host: It's really important to them and it's important for the safety of the worker So it's a great way to build that relationship and solidify that Wow, you are the occupational medicine practice of choice in this area to do that[00:34:00]

[00:34:02] host: So, uh, what if an employer is considering implementing a POET program, what is your top piece of advice to them to get started?

[00:34:12] guest: Oh, goodness. So the top piece of advice is definitely, you know, reach out to an Achmed program and just start having the [00:34:20] conversation. Develop the relationship. And typically what They can ask for is a proposal.

[00:34:27] guest: and again, a lot of time is kind of like, how do you eat an elephant one bite at a time? Right? Um, so if it's a, it's a new company and they have lots of different, you know, job [00:34:40] codes and job descriptions. It could take some time. It could take some time. And we've worked with some companies. Literally, our plan has taken up to a couple of years because it takes time in order to do it right.

[00:34:53] guest: And so we will give them a proposal and we'll give them some different options. Like [00:35:00] this would be our, our first recommendation. this would be our second and this would be our third. and then that way they feel like they've got some choices and Sometimes they'll come back and say, well, we want a little mixture of the, of number one and number three.

[00:35:15] guest: We can do that too. We can do that too.

[00:35:17] host: Yeah. And you know, quite frankly, it's going to take them [00:35:20] three or four years probably to see what the real effect is on their OSHA reportables, right? You may not know, you're not going to know in three months. I mean, maybe you'll have an idea. Oh, we're not getting as many injuries as we did, but to really look at OSHA logs, you know, one year is, uh, not enough time to really.

[00:35:39] host: Confirm [00:35:40] that any procedure has made a difference. So it may take two or three or four years to really figure that out. And in the process you're, you're tweaking and you're adjusting according to the outcomes that you're hopefully monitoring for the company as you go along.

[00:35:56] guest: Yes. And, you know, I will say, some insurance [00:36:00] companies, not all, but we always, tell the companies that we work with, you know, make sure that you show this information.

[00:36:08] guest: provider. I have seen some work comp providers, uh, provide some kind of discount if the company implements, you know, a, b, and c. And if they do, then [00:36:20] maybe that will help on their premiums as well.

[00:36:22] host: Yeah, always something to inquire about. So lastly, if, uh, if an employer we talked about, you know, getting started with this process.

[00:36:30] host: So if an employer, uh, just doesn't have a reliable Achmed provider, like I said, maybe they're using, uh, someone who just Does drug [00:36:40] testing, or doesn't really do these types of exams. Are there any other places they can reach out? Well, they can reach out to NAOHP, right? We'll find them. We'll find them a qualified provider, uh, within our many members across the country.

[00:36:54] host: Uh, any other places they can go to find out more information?

[00:36:58] guest: typically, [00:37:00] if they're utilizing, you know, just a regular, you know, medical provider, and then reaching out to like even a therapy clinic, there's a lot of therapy clinics that have certifications in ergonomics and, you know, some of those industry type things, but that is definitely another option.

[00:37:16] guest: If you're in a, you know, a smaller area. Where you don't have access. [00:37:20]

[00:37:20] host: Good point. So if they're, if they've had work comp injuries and they've been to a therapist who's done a good job, that therapist may be the one who knows how to, how to go and do those types of exams. And, uh, you know, that's a good opportunity for those therapists to get hooked up with the, uh, local, uh, med providers and make sure that they're all [00:37:40] working together to, uh, create a safe, healthy place for workers to do their jobs every day.

[00:37:45] host: Right.

[00:37:47] guest: For sure.

[00:37:48] host: Very good. Well, thank you so much, Dena Kirk. It's always a pleasure talking today about post office employment testing. Pleasure to have you. Thanks everyone for listening. This has been Fit for [00:38:00] Duty. I'm Dr. Larry Earl, your host. Thanks again, Dena Kirk, and we will see you next time.

[00:38:06] guest: Bye

[00:38:06] host: now.

[00:38:06] guest: And

[00:38:08] host: that wraps up another episode of Fit for Duty. Thanks for joining me today, everyone. I hope you found this conversation as engaging and informative as I did. As always, building healthier, happier [00:38:20] workplaces starts with knowledge and collaboration. So if you enjoyed this episode, Please consider subscribing to Fit for Duty wherever you listen to podcasts.

[00:38:29] host: That way you'll never miss a beat when it comes to the latest trends, best practices, and inspiring stories in occupational health until next time. Stay safe, stay well, and keep [00:38:40] elevating workplace excellence.


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