What is a Fitness to Work Assessment, And What Are the Benefits?

What is a Fitness to Work Assessment, And What Are the Benefits?

The simplest way for an employer to avoid workers’ compensation claims is simply not putting the wrong worker to work!

As simple as this sounds, it is difficult to implement.

The wrong worker is an individual who is physically or mentally unable or unready to perform critical job obligations. Fitness to work assessment can help you identify this wrong worker.

These examinations protect employees from injury and yourself from your next workers’ compensation claim. Here’s what you need to know about these exams.

The Different Workplace Health Assessments

Various tests are considered during the fitness for duty exam, including:

  • Job performance—Conducted when you are concerned that your employee is incapable of completing essential job functions or cannot perform at the level of other employees.
  • Return to work — These tests are done when you doubt the readiness of an employee to come back to duty after an injury, even after the doctor gives an all-clear.
  • Post offer physical exams — They include questionnaires for the employee to complete, medical surveillance, drug screening, and musculoskeletal examination.

Sometimes, you will hear the term Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) used interchangeably with fitness to work exams. Another term commonly used is enhanced physical. Regardless of the acronym or name, taking steps to reduce the chances of a workers’ compensation claim is always an excellent investment.

Are These Assessments Legal?

Employers are legally obligated to provide a safe work environment under the Work Health and Safety regulation. The Australian Disability Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination against hiring disabled workers, when the disability does not prevent them from doing critical job functions.

For example, you cannot deny someone a job because they are using a wheelchair, even when they can perform the job. A desk job would be fine, but tasks that require climbing or lifting might not.

The fitness to work assessment answers two critical questions, these are:

  1. Is the employee capable of performing essential job functions?
  2. Is the worker experiencing a condition that might be a risk to the safety and health of the employee and people working around them?

Answers to these questions determine whether the employee is ready for work. However, reasonable accommodations are not overlooked during the workplace occupational health assessment. For instance, if an employee is short in stature, a platform can increase their height to carry out critical functions.

The Success Of Fitness For Work Examination

The ultimate aim of any employment medical assessment is to determine whether the employee is up to the physical and mental demands of the position. These examinations also help uncover the employees’ work capacity, especially after a medical leave of absence.

However, these are some things you need to keep in mind even as you demand the exam:

  • Each case is unique — Just because the person has a medical history does not mean they cannot perform the task.
  • Information — The more information you and your employee provide to the person conducting the test, the better. The medical practitioner needs information on the job description, medical records, and will conduct a brief interview to determine the person’s health status.

The Benefits

  • Helps you manage and assess the health issues of your employees
  • Assists during the workers’ compensation and injury management process
  • Complies with regulatory requirements
  • Assists in the management of risks within your company
  • Assists with rehabilitation after injuries
  • Contributes to the general safety and health of the workplace


An employer who is not mentally or physically fit for work is a danger to themselves and others in your workplace. The purpose of fitness to work assessment is to evaluate the individual’s capability to return to, remain at, or start at their position. If you need more information, get in touch with a specialist occupational physician.

Are there hidden risks around your business you should know? Read our blog today on how to protect your business from such risks!

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