In occupational medicine, physicals specialists cater to the needs of organizations and more than 130 million employees across various industries. They help prevent and manage illnesses, injuries, and disabilities in the workplace, in addition to keeping companies compliant with state and federal laws.

Work-related physical examinations can be classified into four broad categories:

  • Physical examination before beginning work.
  • Regulated physical tests.
  • Hazardous substance / medical surveillance
  • Fit-for-duty examination.

Physical tests before work are of two main types: pre-placement and functional capacity.

Regulated physical tests are designed to keep workers in compliance with government and industry requirements or regulations. This type of physicals is commonly found in industries such as aviation, maritime, law enforcement, and transportation’s

Examinations for medical surveillance are conducted to check for exposure to a pathogen or hazardous materials that can impact the respiratory system. Such tests are regulated and required by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).

Fit-for-duty tests are designed by the employer to ensure their workforce remains safe and healthy over an extended period of time. They also help in preventing repeated injuries and illness, thereby reducing compensation costs.


What Does a Physical Test Consist Of?

Before any physical examination takes place, employees are required to fill out a questionnaire to answer questions about their personal, medical, and occupational history. Generally, a physical examination includes a check of the following:

  • Vital signs: breathing rate, pulse, height, temperature, weight, and blood pressure.
  • Vision: sharpness and clarity of vision from a distance.
  • Head, nose, throat, ears, and eyes: palpation and other necessary tests.
  • Gastrointestinal: auscultation, percussion, or palpation.
  • Cardiovascular: retinal arteries, heartbeat, blood lab test, or electrocardiogram.
  • Respiration: skin appearance, breathing sounds, and postures.
  • Musculoskeletal: muscles, joints, and bones.
  • Neurological test: examination and observation of motor function and balance, mental awareness, sensory response, and reflexes.
  • Skin and lymph node: an examination of skin tone or pallor and lymph nodes.