Pre-Employment Physicals

Regardless of how healthy or physically competent someone may appear, do not assume that they will be able to perform the job for which they applied. Although it is legal to ask someone if they are able to perform the duties of a job, they could be mistaken or untruthful. A post-offer physical exam before an applicant starts working will help protect both you and the applicant. You may not randomly choose who will receive a physical; for every position in which you feel a physical is necessary, every single applicant must be examined.

If finalizing a job offer is contingent on passing a physical, you must have written consent and understanding from the applicant. If you have a policy in place that requires a physical exam, applicants should not fill out new-hire paperwork or start working until after they have passed the exam.

Choose one physician to perform all of your post-offer exams to ensure consistency. For the most effective program, inform the doctor of the job duties and the frequency of the following:

  • Repetitive movements

  • Prolonged standing or sitting

  • Kneeling

  • Bending

  • Lifting

  • Stooping

  • Driving

  • Exposure to heat or cold

As an employer, you do not have the right to ask applicants about their medical history or any prescription drugs that they take. This stays between the physician and the job candidate. The doctor's role is to determine if the applicant can safely perform the job. Here is one example: If a job requires someone to frequently lift ten-pound boxes over her head but she has a shoulder injury with permanent 20 percent disability, she may not be able to perform the job safely. If necessary, the physician performing the exam will consult with the doctor who treated the injury. What is important is that a worker is never put into a position where they could further aggravate a pre-existing condition or perform job duties beyond their capabilities.

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