Why do you need my medical history before fitness to work testing?

Q:

Why do you need my medical history before fitness to work testing?

A:

The primary purpose of fitness to work testing is to assess whether or not you will be able to safely perform the tasks of the job for which you are being hired. It is in both your and your employer’s best interest that you only be assigned duties that you are physically able to perform without placing you or your co-workers at risk. Nearly half of all workers in the United States undergo some form of fitness evaluation.

During fitness for work testing you may be asked to perform physical tasks essential to the job, sometimes referred to as a physical abilities test (PAT). You may also undergo a medical exam and other evaluations.

As a part of the evaluation process, you will usually be asked to provide a medical history. Without full information about your medical history, the health professionals evaluating you cannot make an informed decision as to whether you will be able to safely perform your work duties. For example, if your medical history disclosed a torn rotator cuff, it would not be appropriate to assign you to a job where prolonged overhead work was essential. While you may believe you can work through any old injuries, failing to provide truthful information could result in loss of work later on or denial of benefits after a related injury later on so it is in your interest to provide full and truthful information when requested.

In the United States, a medical exam or evaluation may only be required after you have been offered a job. When used as a condition of employment, an employer must uniformly apply medical exam requirements to all prospective employees.

Your employer cannot use medical information to discriminate against you based on disability and employees covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are entitled to reasonable accommodations.

Your medical history is personal and confidential and any history you provide will be maintained in a separate medical file by your employer. Your employer may only access this confidential information if it is necessary. In most instances, following a pre-placement evaluation your employer will not be informed of any specific medical condition but only that you are fit, unfit, or fit with modifications for the proposed job assignment.

In certain circumstances, your employer may be entitled to see all or a part of your medical history. For example, your medical history may be used to demonstrate the need for accommodations in the workplace. This information may also be used to identify a pre-existing condition in the event that you make a Worker’s Compensation claim.

Because your safety and the safety of your fellow workers depends on your employer making informed placement decisions, it is important that you provide all relevant information about your health. Without full information, your employer’s health professionals cannot provide sound and qualified advice.


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Written by John Hawes
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John Hawes is the CCO and co-founder at SureHire Occupational Health Testing. John graduated in 2001 from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy. As a former physical therapist, John uses his knowledge of physical therapy and interest in ergonomics and biomechanics to devise fit for work testing.

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