Prior to the study, Essential Function Testing was not being utilized for the entry-level position of transporter. The first step for the team was to gather data about the job itself, including the physical and mental demands of the work tasks. Performed by a certified ergonomist/occupational therapist, this physical demand analysis identified the essential functions of the job. In addition, current transport employees were given a list of functions, behaviors, skills and abilities needed to perform the job, and were asked to provide a “yes,” “no,” or “yes with modifications” answer for each item.
Using this data, an Essential Function Test was developed and implemented as part of a post-offer job exam. “The job screen involves the candidate visiting one of our three BarnesCare clinics for a 30-minute screening with rehabilitation staff,” says Laura Wisa, PTA, CEAS III, ergonomic specialist, who helped developed the test. “They work with a weighted dummy and a wheelchair and actually simulate the job tasks. The staff is able to determine the maximum weight the candidate can safely lift while achieving proper body mechanics.”
The objectives of the test were to identify transport candidates who were physically unable to perform the essential functions of the job safely. Other goals included increasing employee and patient safety, decreasing injuries and decreasing costs.
“Hiring someone who is wrong for the job because they cannot meet the basic qualifications has a tremendous cost impact – both human and financial,” says Pat Venditti, MHA
, interim vice president, BarnesCare. “It can pose a safety threat for employees as well as patients when a staff member isn’t capable of doing the job.”
The overall impact of the implementation was dramatic:
Pre-implementation (2000-2003, 4 years):
57 claims – 46 strains/sprains Costs including medical care, indemnity = $137,621
Post-implementation (2004-2010, 7 years):
28 claims – 12 strains Costs including medical care, indemnity = $56,817
The utilization of Essential Function Testing in a post-offer job screen reduced:
- Workers’ compensation claims by 72% (from 14 to 4 per year)
- Strains/sprains by 86% (from 11.5 to 1.7 per year)
- Total incurred costs by 76.4% ($34,406 to $8,117)
While the cost savings is significant, Wisa emphasizes that other benefits are equally vital. “The whole idea is to better fit the worker to the job,” she says. “It’s important to control costs, and it’s just as important to keep our employees and patients as safe as possible.”