Fit for Duty test

Fit for Duty Exam

Fit for Duty (FFD) consists of an exam in which an employee’s physical, physiological, and psychological state is tested to evaluate how he/she can perform assigned tasks safely.

Safety-sensitive position/duties /task

The safety-sensitive position is any duty, which if not completed safely, would risk:

  • Employer
  • Co-workers
  • The general public
  • The environment
  • The workplace

 The safety-sensitive jobs include but not limited to:

  • At-height work 
  • Transportation
  • Dealing with the hazardous material 
  • Operating equipment and heavy machines


According to OSHA, being mentally, physically, and emotionally able to perform necessary work tasks safely is Fit for Duty. It is a necessity for all employees, especially those who perform safety-sensitive tasks to be Fit For Duty. By OSHA, giving exams to job candidates before employment is illegal. An employer is only allowed to request for a fit for duty medical examination only after the candidate is hired for the selected position.

What is the purpose of FFD examination?

The goal of fitness for duty exams is to figure out whether a worker can meet the demands of a job/duty. Employers need to protect themselves, the employee and prevent risk related injury by determining if an employee can safely perform the requirements of a job.

Recent research indicates that higher injury rates happen among newer employees. According to BLS (Bureau of Labor), More than 40 percent of work-related injuries annually come from employees on the job.

What does Fit for Duty examination evaluate?

A Fit-for-Duty test is a series of medical and physical testing, designed to match a candidate’s physical and mental abilities that the job they are applying for demands:

  • Physical requirements, vision, hearing, etc.
  • Physiological conditions: fatigue, alcohol and drugs, workplace exposures, etc.
  • Psychological condition – risk tolerance,  culture, emotional state, etc.

Different types of Fitness for Duty Exam

1) Going back to work : Implemented to know if an employee is ready to come back after an injury.

2) Job performance : Executed to know if an employee can perform the essential functions of the job.

3) Post-offer physical examinations : also called pre-placement exams, Includes a comprehensive questionnaire for an employee to complete, drug screen, and physical testing.Fitness for Duty Exam

What are the benefits of fit for duty exam for an employer?

By hiring employees who are qualified for the job, employers can see many benefits. Including:

  • Reducing the cost of employee turnover
  • Reducing injuries
  • Gathering baseline data
  • Decrease safety incidents 
  • Increase employee retention
  • Optimize productivity

Why Fit for Duty test needs to be done?

An employer is allowed to ask for the medical condition of workers to make sure they can work safely and that their condition does not endanger anyone.

Is FFD Exam Legal?

Fit for Duty testing is legal. Employers do have a legal right to be sure that employees will perform the tasks safely.

By the Americans with Disabilities Act, disability cannot prevent a worker from doing the essential functions of the job, and employers cannot discriminate against hiring a disabled worker.

When do employers ask for a Fit for Duty exam?

The EEOC implies that employees can be asked to take part in fit for duty testing by the employer if:

  • An employee is having problems performing the necessary functions of their job.
  • There is enough evidence the employee has a medical condition that unables him/her perform essential job functions safely.
  • After a leave of absence, the employee is returning to work. 
  • Increasing carelessness.
  • Increased mistakes.

How is the FFD testing done?

Usually, the employee will visit a medical professional who will determine if the selected employee is fit to do the tasks. The medical professional may examine:

  • Mental or physical abilities
  • Sensory acuity
  • Level of skill
  • Functional limitations

Signs showing an employee is not Fit for Duty

There are various reasons that make an employee impaired and unable to work safely depending on employees’ job duties.

The following may be signs that an employee is not fit for duty:

  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Severe trembling
  • Notable problems with coordination
  • Markedly diminished memory or concentration
  • Suicidal or threatening statements

How to have a successful Fitness for Duty Exam?

The final goal of fitness for duty exams is to determine whether a worker is up to the physical demands of a position. You need to know each case is a separate individual. Just because a person has a particular medical record (like an organ transplant), that doesn’t necessarily mean the worker can’t perform the job. Also, finding out more compelling reasons why the employee needs a Fit for Duty exam helps to get a better result.

How “Fit For Duty exam” is performed at SNOHC ?

As it was explained throughout the blog, OSHA defines a Fit for Duty as an individual that is fit mentally, physically, emotionally to do the jobs. He/she can complete the assigned job in a manner that will not risk his/her safety, the public in general, or the co-workers.

OSHA orders this examination if there is a situation that evaluation of the employee seems necessary. This evaluation is not to determine a person’s disability. There is a wide range of fit for duty physical exams performed at Southern Nevada Occupational Health Center (SNOHC)such as:

Return to work physical exam

  • This exam is usually performed by the employee who was on leave. This test can be conducted to see if the employee is qualified to continue after the absence. 

Job performance physical exam

  • This test is conducted to evaluate the physical and mental performance of an employee on a job. It is to ensure if the employee has the intellectual and physical capabilities to handle the physical and psychological work pressure. It also evaluates the job performance of an employee in comparison to other employees.

Post-offer physical exam

  • They are also known as pre-placement assessments. They are taken by the candidates who have been selected for the job. It is a necessary physical exam in which a person is assessed by assigning him a few physical tasks related to the occupation. It is to determine if the candidate has the ability to handle the physical demands of the job.

In this article, we studied one of the most important OSHA exams “Fit for Duty”. SNOHC has performed occupational health services for more than 10 years in Las Vegas. With a comprehensive understating of DOT, CDC, OSHA, and MSHA regulatory mandates, our philosophy is to prevent injury, treat work-related injuries, and provide cost-effective quality healthcare while raising awareness on workplace safety measures. For more information, please visit our website at

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