A novel approach to preemployment worker fitness evaluations in a material-handling industry

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1994 Sep 15;19(18):2026-32. doi: 10.1097/00007632-199409150-00001.


Study design: Effectiveness of a pre-employment worker fitness evaluation in a sample of grocery warehouse order selectors was studied retrospectively. Implementation of the program began in March 1990 and as of September 10, 1993, 1100 prospective employees have been tested.

Objectives: Identification of prospective employees with the necessary job specific physical requirements was conducted with a standardized test protocol based on job analysis and normative data. Follow-up injury rates and costs for this department were supplied by the company for statistical analysis.

Summary of background data: To establish normative data for minimum standards of job performance, a control group of current, uninjured and experienced order selectors was evaluated in respect to job requirements and isokinetic variables. In the control group, 17 variables were identified including one each from two 5-minute repetitive lifting tasks with weighted crates and 15 isokinetic trunk function and lifting variables. Prospective employees were required to successfully complete at least 15 variables for hire as an order selector.

Methods: The t-test for significance of difference between two proportions was used to compare injury rates in 1989 to those reported in 1990, 1991, 1992, and 1993.

Results: Statistically significant differences were found between the unimplemented comparison year of 1989 and the 4 years post-implementation.

Conclusions: Preliminary data suggests that a worker fitness evaluation using the above methodology may be an effective method of reducing injuries and subsequent costs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Back Injuries*
  • Employment*
  • Humans
  • Lifting
  • Low Back Pain / epidemiology
  • Low Back Pain / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Physical Examination*
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Work Capacity Evaluation*