Work Capacity Evaluation (WCE)

Last Updated: July 28, 2018

Definition - What does Work Capacity Evaluation (WCE) mean?

A work capacity evaluation (WCE) is a tool used to measure the functional ability of a person to perform a work-related series of tasks on a safe and dependable basis. The test is typically done in one day, however a two day test can be utilized when appropriate. The goal of a WCE is to objectively evaluate the abilities of a worker, typically someone with medical impairment, to perform work tasks as well as activities of daily living. If the person's impairment affects their ability to perform meaningful tasks, this would be called a functional limitation. A WCE also evaluates the consistency of effort and symptom reports during the assessment. This combination allows the evaluator to answer these questions; "What can the worker physically do right now?", "What is the worker's potential for work?" and "Did the worker try their best?". Work capacity evaluation is also known as a functional capacity evaluation or a functional capacity test.

WorkplaceTesting explains Work Capacity Evaluation (WCE)

A work capacity evaluation tests an injured worker in the areas of strength, endurance, speed, flexibility, and physical effort. A medical examination portion of the test evaluates details of a worker's impairment while a job analysis determines the physical demands of the worker's job position. The comparison of these two will determine if the worker meets the requirements.

The functional tasks evaluated include lifting, pulling and pushing, repetitive tasks for the arms and hands, precision tasks such as finger dexterity, and postural tolerances for common tasks such as sitting, standing, and walking. The evaluator tracks the worker's heart rate, muscle recruiting, stance, speed of tasks performed, pace of tasks performed, and end-range of motion during these tasks.

The results from the evaluation can be used to develop a treatment program, to compare the physical abilities of a worker before and after a rehabilitation program, to modify a treatment plan, to decide whether an injured worker can work, and when it is possible for them to do so. It also provides an insight to ergonomic equipment needs, work site and work practice modifications, and if a graduated return to work schedule is needed.

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