Why Pre-Hire Physical Abilities Testing is Critical for the Trucking Industry
Over-the-road. Last mile. Local delivery. Flatbed. Reefer. Tankers. There are lots of different types of truck drivers, but they all have one thing in common: lots and lots of injuries. Unfortunately, research shows that truck drivers are also one of the least healthy populations in the U.S.A. So, no matter what line of trucking you’re in, the potential for injuries is present.
Prevalence of injuries in trucking. According to BLS statistics, in 2018, there were 607 fatalities, and 3.8 non-fatal recordable injuries and illnesses for every 100 warehouse employees compared to 3.2 per 100 employees for all other industries. The trucking injuries that involved lost or restricted workdays was 2.7 per 100 full-time employees compared to the average of 1.7 per 100 full-time employees for all other.
Nature of the work. Where do these injuries come from? The driver just sits all day long, right? Wrong! Beginning at the pre-trip inspection, a driver’s day consists of squatting, kneeling, crouching, twisting… You get the picture. Flatbed drivers often have to cover their trailers with tarps weighing over 100 lbs, then strap the cargo down by heaving lengthy nylon straps multiple times over the trailer. Often drivers climb on and off the trailer and in and out of the cab multiple times each day, and this is sometimes performed in rain or winter weather. And, after the driver has been sitting for hours on end, they may have to unload their cargo (often heavy, awkward products), pushing or pulling dollies or pallet jacks… The list goes on and on.
Effect on KPIs: With the average strain/sprain or slip/trip/fall costing $40K in direct costs alone, the work comp costs go on and on as well. And beyond the direct medical and indemnity costs, how do these injuries affect your organizations KPIs? Decreased labor productivity; increased pickup and delivery times; increased miles driven outside a predetermined route from decreased driver count; increased loading or unloading time from less experienced drivers…
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How does pre-hire Physical Abilities Testing help? Pre-hire PAT helps you select individuals who are capable of safely performing the physical requirements of the jobs and avoid hiring injuries waiting to happen. You wouldn’t hire an accountant who didn’t have the proper training and credentials, would you? So why would you hire someone to do physically demanding work, who doesn’t have the strength, stamina, flexibility or balance to do it? It’s only a matter of time before these individuals experience a strain, sprain, repetitive injury or a fall.
When you have a physically capable workforce, work related injuries and their associated costs decrease. You have fewer lost and restricted duty days. Productivity and efficiency measures increase. Turnover decreases. And millions of dollars in injury costs are avoided.
How is testing developed and implemented? Testing has to be job-specific in order to comply with ADA and EEOC. So, it’s important to have an outside consultant analyze the physical requirements of the job. From that analysis, those same consultants can develop job-specific tests. You have a choice – your tests can be administered at your workplace or in a nearby clinic. You make a conditional offer of employment. The test is performed. If the candidate passes the test, you proceed to hire. If the candidate fails, the offer can be rescinded. Alternatively, the test can be used to place candidates into a variety of jobs.
What will the test look like? For trucking and transportation jobs, the test will include elements that mimic the job. This likely consists of:
- Materials handling: lifting and pushing and pulling are often the most difficult parts of the driver’s job. It’s often important to test a variety of types of lifts as different muscles are used for different types of lifting.
- Mobility: the ability to squat, bend, twist, crawl are all requisite for many driver positions.
- Balance: climbing in and out of the cab, as well as on and off the trailer, especially when this may be performed in slippery conditions, is mandatory for all driver positions.
How do you know if the testing is working? One of the most common problems we see with testing programs is that once the program is established, no one monitors the outcomes. Does the testing program lower injuries, costs, lost and restricted duty days? Your company will never know unless you collaborate with your testing provider to do a before and after analysis. Your testing provider should be able to walk you through a simple analysis to determine this.
ErgoScience has the proof. As an expert with testing in the trucking and transportation industry, ErgoScience has data that proves what we do works. Take a look the following example.
This client in the Flatbed Trucking business came to us for testing in 2010. They had been dealing with high injuries for years, and had begun using another national company for pre-hire testing, but had not seen the desired results. In the first year testing with ErgoScience, their incurred cost per employee dropped from $4,420 to $1,615, or almost $3,000 per employee! That number has continued to drop, and in 2018 had dipped to $216 per employee! During this time, the company grew exponentially, increasing driver count from about 300 in 2009 to almost 2,600 in 2018. If injury rates would have remained at 2009 level, the company’s work comp cost in 2018 would have been close to $12M dollars. Instead, their work comp costs were under $600K for the year!
So why delay? Each day you wait, precious money is being flushed away, and it’s so easy to start saving. Contact ErgoScience today to see how we can partner with you to protect your drivers and protect your bottom line.
"We chose to work with ErgoScience because of their professionalism both inside the office and out in the field. They analyzed the demands of our drivers and were able to develop a Pre-Hire Physical Abilities Test that and has cut our injury rate in half and reduced our work comp cost per employee by 68%. ”
JONATHAN MARSHALL, SAFETY DIRECTOR P&S TRANSPORTATION