What is a Fitness for Duty Evaluation?
Fitness for Duty (FFD) evaluation, also referred to as Fitness for Duty Assessment (FFD), is a medical evaluation performed by a certified medical practitioner at the behest of an employer in which a series of tests are performed to evaluate the mental, physical, and emotional state of an employee to carry out essential tasks in a workplace in a way that does not threaten the health or safety of oneself, co-workers, property, or the public at large. Besides, employers may choose a fit for duty evaluation to find out if current or potential employees can medically carry out required tasks under the current working conditions.
Indications for Fitness for Duty Evaluation
A fitness for duty evaluation may be requested by an employer when an employee exhibits behavior that would suggest that the person may have a psychological condition that impedes their capacity to perform their essential job functions safely and effectively or poses a direct threat. Examples of behaviors that can prompt a fitness for duty evaluation include suspected alcohol or drug use, anger toward co-workers, excessive complaints from co-workers or the public, excessive absences or sick time abuse, refusal to obey company policies and procedures, and arrests for violent crimes or driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs.
What are the Tests Performed During Fitness for Duty Evaluation?
The following are some of the most common tests performed to determine if an employee qualifies as being fit for duty:
Alcohol and Drug Testing
- Performed to improve the safety of one’s work environment as individuals who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs at work will put themselves and others at risk
- Discourages individuals from using alcohol and drugs at work
Audiometric Exposure Testing
- Prevents loss of hearing through early detection
- Evaluates the effectiveness of noise exposure management systems
- Helps to find hearing limitations, which could result in the prevention of serious events in the workplace
Functional Fitness Tests
- Aids in reducing injuries and managing health risks of employees
- Physical Demands Analysis: A method used to objectively measure the physical demands connected with a job.
Respiratory Function Testing
- Assesses an employee’s lung function with a pulmonary function test (PFT) to check if the employee has healthy breathing patterns
- Evaluates the effectiveness of protective equipment
- Mask fit tests: This ensures the personal protective equipment fits well enough to protect the worker from hazardous exposure
For hands-on jobs, proper vision is very important. You need employees who can see what they are doing, so they do not accidentally harm themselves or others at work.
A basic physical examination may include vital signs, coordination testing, and a mental status examination. Advanced evaluations may include psychometric testing or neurocognitive testing.
An employee’s emotional state is of considerable importance. If you have an employee in a vulnerable and unhealthy emotional state, they can lash out at other employees and become a liability.
What Does Fitness for Duty Evaluation Involve?
A fitness for duty evaluation typically involves the following:
- The employer will provide the psychologist with a written description of the objective evidence giving rise to concerns about the employee’s fitness for duty and any particular questions that the employer would like the psychologist to address.
- Collateral and background information regarding the employee’s recent and past performance, conduct, and functioning.
- The psychologist will then administer one or more psychological tests to assess for personality and psychological functioning.
- If there are suspected cognitive deficits, your psychologist will administer neuropsychological tests to assess for impairments in cognitive functioning.
- A detailed interview to give the employee an opportunity to describe the issues they are having from their perspective.
- After the evaluation is completed, the psychologist will write a comprehensive report summarizing the findings, provide recommendations, and submit it to the employer.