Oct 06 2023

Investing in Physical Demands Analysis (PDAs)

I don’t normally write the blog posts because I spend my days in the office, behind a desk and my expertise is not something we bill for.  But, I am a small business owner and I make many of the financial decision for our business.  I understand weighing the costs vs. the benefit.  Throughout the years, I have heard from so many employers that they have a hard time justifying the initial investment of validated Physical Demands Analysis for their organization.  So, normally we get called after a terrible accident or when OSHA comes to visit…again.  However, we really do our best work when things can be addressed proactively.   

So, here’s my overview of cost justification for Physical Demands Analysis. 

But first, let’s recap what Physical Demands Analysis means.  Physical Demands Analysis (PDA), also known as Functional Job Analysis (FJA) or Job Demands Analysis (JDA) is a systematic process used to evaluate the physical requirements of a job or task.  The analysis involves breaking down the specific tasks of the job while considering the physical demands, such as lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling and repetitive motions, that are necessary to effectively perform the job.  Physical Demands Analysis can provide a detailed understanding of the job requirements, including forces, postures, and motions involved. 

Now, here’s why it makes “business sense” to invest in a quality analysis.

  1. Injury Prevention!

Validated PDAs help identify the physical requirements and risks associated with a specific job task.  By understanding the demands of the job, employers can implement appropriate measures to prevent work-related injuries and accidents.  This significantly reduces the cost associated with workers' compensation claims, medical expenses, lost productivity, and potential litigation.

  1. Ergonomic Interventions

PDAs can uncover ergonomic risks and provide the opportunity for job modifications that can improve employee safety and comfort.  By addressing these ergonomic risks proactively, organizations can reduce the likelihood of musculoskeletal disorders, repetitive strain injuries, and other work-related health problems.  This can also improve employee well-being and reduce absenteeism, turnover and healthcare expenses.

  1. Return to Work and Accommodations

If an employee is hurt at work or develops a health condition, a validated PDA is so helpful in designing an appropriate accommodation plan. PDAs help identify modified work tasks or job rotations that allow employees to safety return to work, reducing the duration of disability and associated expenses.

  1. Job Design and Workforce Planning

Understanding the physical demands of a job can aid in optimizing job design, ensuring that tasks are appropriately distributed among employees and reducing the risk of overexertion or fatigue. This understanding can enhance productivity, reduce errors, and contribute to overall operational efficiency.  Many people say, it matches the “worker to the work”.

  1. Compliance and Risk Management

Industries with physically demanding jobs often have regulatory requirements related to employee health and safety.  Validated PDAs help organizations demonstrate compliance with these regulations, reducing the risk of fines, penalties, and reputational damage.

  1. Smarter Hiring and Functional Testing

Detailed PDAs can provide an outline for the physical capabilities necessary to hire employees who will be able to safely carry out the job tasks.  This reduces unnecessary employee on-boarding expenses if the employee isn’t physically capable to performing the job tasks.  In addition, quality data from PDAs provides a foundation for developing compliant, objective and defensible functional testing, such as Post-Offer Testing and Return to Work Testing.  Similarly, the information from PDAs can help provide an outline for training new employees on how to safely perform the physical demands required of their job duties.

  1. Evidence-based Decision Making

By investing in validated PDAs, organizations can make informed decisions regarding job design, equipment procurement, training programs, and injury prevention strategies.  This evidence-based approach can lead to more effective resource allocation, reduced costs, and improved overall organizational performance.

As described above, investing in validated Physical Demands Analysis has long-term benefits in terms of injury prevention, improved productivity, compliance and workforce management are worth the investment.  It prevents a lot of woulda, shoulda, coulda.

Jackie Bracey

Chief Operating Officer