What are physical demands analysis reports actually used for?

Q:

What is a physical demands analysis ? What are physical demands analysis reports actually used for?

A:

A physical demands analysis (PDA) is a process that is carried out to determine the suitability of an employee to their job role. The physical requirements of the job role are broken down into categories. All the physical movements within each category are listed for that job role. This enables the employee and an appropriate employer representative to work through the form together, with a full understanding of what physical movements the role entails.

Whilst a job description offers a brief overview of what is involved in a job role, a PDA offers much more detail regarding the physical requirements of the job. As all job roles are unique, the PDA should be specific to the job at hand (there is no standardized form to use). Some job roles require the worker to carry out a wide variety of physical movements. These job roles will have a more complex PDA form than others and the process will, therefore, take longer to complete.

Some of the common gross motor movements highlighted in a PDA form could include sitting, standing, bending, lifting, pushing, crouching, twisting, walking and climbing. Fine motor skills could include different types of dexterity-related tasks such as gripping and turning objects using the hands or movements with the fingers. A detailed breakdown of the required movements for each joint in the body can also be included.

Ultimately, the form is created through a deep analysis of what is physically required for that particular job role. It is a very specific and objective measure of the physical demands of a job and should include detail such as (object) weights, frequency (of particular movements) and distance measurements (e.g. if walking or twisting is required, how far does the person need to walk or twist?)

What are physical demands analysis forms actually used for?

PDA forms could be used in a few different situations to determine the suitability of a worker to the physical demands of a job role. These include:

  1. As part of a a pre-employment, "fit for work" testing process to match a potential employee with a job role
  2. In a return-to-work situation to help determine whether an employee is ready to safely return to a particular job role. If the PDA process determines that they are not ready to return to the role at hand, they could be assigned to a different, or modified job role in the meantime
  3. To offer a comprehensive understanding of the risks associated with a job role. This enables the employer to take appropriate steps to minimize those risks in an effort to avoid workplace injuries. The employer may also decide to modify the requirements of a job role based on the findings from the PDA.

Find out more about the PDA process and why firms use PDAs in "Physical Demands Analysis 101"

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Written by Elly McGuinness
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Elly has been inspiring people to make sustainable changes to their health, fitness and lifestyle for the past 15 years. She offers online solutions for people who are looking to get started on, or improve their health and fitness. She blogs regularly, writes for a number of health and well-being publications and is the published author of a holistic weight loss book.

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