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What is a Functional Capacity Evaluation

The Functional Capacity Evaluation is used to make sure employees are physical healthy and able to complete required work tasks.

In working environments today, it is an employer’s duty to make sure his or her employees are physically healthy and able to complete work related tasks with no health related risk. This is where a functional capacity evaluation comes in to play. This exam reliably measures the functional and physical ability of a person to perform work related tasks. There are currently ten different functional capacity tests out there right now; all providing a sequence of assessments that accurately show the working capability of an employee.

What are FCE’s Used For?

Functional Capacity Evaluations are used for many different reasons. They are used by physicians, case managers, and employers to transition injured workers from disability to full function and employment. FCEs are used to aid physicians in developing a treatment program, to measure physical abilities before and after rehabilitation, to evaluate whether or not a worker is able to fulfill his or her duties on the job, or to determine if an employee can go back to work.

When FCEs are administered they are conducted through a series of tests that measure physical strength, range of motion, stamina, tolerance to functionally activity, and lifting & carrying.

This chart shows the different types of FCE’s an employer can ask their employee to take part in…

Type Question Compared to Example Output Duration
Functional Goal Setting Ability to perform key task? Pre-Injury Ability "Limited ability to lift from knuckle to shoulder leve" 30 minutes
Disability Rating Loss of work capacity? Normal values “35% loss of work capacity” 90 minutes
Job Matching Adequacy for job? Specific job demands “Adequate for demands of Fitter at ACME, Inc.” 3-6 hours
Occupation Matching Adequacy for occupational group? General occupational demands “Inadequate for demands of Fitter occupational group” 4-8 hours
Work Capacity Evaluation Maximum dependable ability? Competitive employment standards “Feasible for competitive employment at the Medium PDC level” 2-8 days

What Does a Full Evaluation Include?

When an employee is asked to take part in a full workers capacity evaluation, it is usually a two day assessment. This is a list of tasks you will be asked to perform when you are completing the evaluation.

  • Repetitive lifting at various levels.
  • Repetitive push, pull, and carrying capacity.
  • Hand grip strength.
  • Tolerance for elevated work.
  • Trunk bending in sitting and standing.
  • Trunk rotation in sitting and standing.
  • Prolonged crawl, knew, and sustained crouch positions.
  • Repetition squats.
  • Prolonged sitting and standing.
  • Maximum walking, stairs, and stepladder capacity.
  • Balance
  • Hand coordination.

Why Are Functional Capacity Evaluations Important for Employers?

Employers value Functional Capacity Evaluations because it insures that their employees are being properly monitored through their injuries or disabilities. These tests help employers develop return-to-work plans, and in offering alternative employment based on results. Employers use these exams to pin point what their employee needs to focus on specifically in order to come back to the job as healthy and physically able as possible.