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are likely to succeed while not being hurt— finding a good fit for their job. For purposes of this discussion, the term

“Fit for Duty” tends to be more of a generic term used to refer to a number of percep- tions associated with pre-employment prac- tices. It is clear, through conversations with leaders in the construction industry, that there are many different perceptions of what “Fit for Duty” means. Some believe Fit for Duty means an employee has simply passed a drug test and can now go straight to work. Others see it as a slightly more comprehen- sive definition where the employee has not only passed the drug test, but also meets cer- tain eligibility criteria, such as certifications, training, and other credentials, to work. Others who refer to Fit for Duty may have yet another perception of the meaning of the term. In their mind, it encompasses drug testing, general and specific education and certifications, site specific training and an element of some sort of physical assessment by a qualified evaluator who can help match people to the essential functions of their job so they can effectively work in a safe manner. As a result, we need to be careful to understand the requirements of various Fit for Duty programs and their applicability to the situation at hand. Some other terms associated with Fit for

Duty include, but are not limited to: • Physical Fitness For Duty Assessment • Post-Offer, Pre-Placement Program • Functional Capacity Evaluation • Wellness Programs • Pre-Placement/Wellness Program Trough the years, contractors have

utilized a variety of techniques to drive down accidents and injuries on the job. One indication is incident rates, which are showing continued improvement in on the job health and safety. Good claims manage- ment when incidents do occur minimizes the impact of workers’ compensation coverage. However, incident rates and EMRs are examples of lagging indicators, meaning the accident already happened.

Terefore the question needs to be, “Are we doing enough on the front end to prevent the incident from occurring?” Instead of focusing on lagging indicators,

contractors recently have been focused on leading indicators—what can be done beforehand to reduce incidents on the job. While there is some improvement, contrac- tors are ultimately trying to achieve zero, meaning no one gets hurt. Many employers have found that utilizing Fit for Duty pro- grams are a useful tool in helping to reduce injury rates by making sure the people they hire are beter matched up to perform their essential job functions in a safe manner. By utilizing this tool, employers, through their TPA, can identify where certain reasonable accommodations need to be made (similar to their return to work programs) and can best utilize the strengths of the employee to the job.

Misconceptions When people first hear of Fit for Duty

programs, they immediately have visions of liſting a certain amount of weight a certain number of times, climbing ladders, etc. Tey also worry about geting hurt while performing these tasks. While this may be true of certain programs, it’s not necessarily the case for others. Fit for Duty programs can be as basic or comprehensive as need- ed. Some programs utilize a basic question- naire while others get into more detailed physical examinations. However, the most important factor is that the program matches the essential functions of the job description. Tis is why it is oſten recom- mended to hire an occupational therapist or someone familiar with these programs to help perform an on the job assessment and develop essential functions based on job descriptions of the employees.

Elements of a Fit for Duty Program Typically, development of a Fit for Duty program consists of the following elements:

• Goal of the program—To ensure employees can perform their essential functions of their job in a safe manner.

• Scope—Define to whom the policy applies.

• Definitions—of key terms • Job Descriptions of each trade (need to be company-specific) • A good tool to use as a guide is the US Department of Labor’s ONet website which can be found at htp://www.

• Since there are variations among companies, it may also be useful to hire an occupational therapist or consultant to provide a workplace assessment in developing job descrip- tions and essential functions.

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