• These assessments evaluate if individuals are physically and mentally fit to perform job duties safely. They identify health risks and accommodation needs.
  • Purposes include ensuring safety, reducing illnesses, promoting well-being, and complying with regulations.
  • Components involve medical history reviews, physical exams, mental health evaluations, job-specific risk assessments, and sometimes functional capacity tests.
  • Pre-employment occupational health assessments play a vital role in protecting workplace safety, health, and productivity.

Occupational health pre-employment assessment (OHPEA) is a crucial step in the hiring process, ensuring that individuals are physically and mentally fit to perform the required job duties safely and effectively. This assessment process helps identify potential health risks, assess an individual’s ability to tolerate workplace risks and provide recommendations for accommodations or modifications if necessary. The pre-employment assessment is part of a range of occupational health services offered by OH professionals.

Purposes of an Occupational health pre-employment assessment

OHPEA serves several important purposes in the workplace:

  • Ensuring Employee Safety: Identifying potential health risks associated with the job role and evaluating an individual’s ability to perform the duties safely without risk to themselves or others.
  • Reducing Work-Related Illnesses: Assessing pre-existing health conditions that could be aggravated by workplace hazards and providing preventive measures to minimise the risk of work-related illnesses.
  • Enhancing Employee Well-being: Promoting overall employee health by identifying modifiable risk factors, such as smoking, obesity, or physical inactivity, and providing appropriate interventions.
  • Compliance with Regulations: Assisting organisations in complying with health and safety regulations related to pre-employment assessments and ensuring a safe and healthy work environment.

Components of an OHPEA

An OHPEA typically includes a comprehensive evaluation of an individual’s health status and fitness for the job role.¹ This may include a series of checks and questionnaires, along with the following assessments and evaluations:

  • Medical History Review: A review of an individual’s medical history to identify any pre-existing health conditions, medications, or treatments that could affect their ability to perform the job duties.
  • Physical Examination: Conduct a thorough physical examination to assess the individual’s strength, endurance, range of motion, and any physical limitations that could affect their job performance.
  • Mental Health Assessment: Evaluating an individual’s mental well-being and psychological fitness for the job, particularly for roles that require high levels of stress, emotional intelligence, or handling sensitive information.
  • Occupational Health Assessment: Assessing the potential risks associated with the specific job role and evaluating an individual’s ability to tolerate these risks, such as noise, chemicals, or physical strain.
  • Functional Capacity Evaluation² (FCE): In some cases, an FCE may be conducted to assess an individual’s physical capabilities and limitations for specific job tasks, particularly for physically demanding roles.

Case Study: Identifying and Addressing Pre-existing Health Conditions

A manufacturing company implemented a comprehensive OHPEA program to address the high prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among its employees. The OHPEA revealed that several new hires had pre-existing back or shoulder conditions that could be aggravated by the repetitive lifting and carrying tasks involved in their job roles.
Based on the OHPEA findings, the company implemented the following interventions:

  • Job Rotation: Rotating employees with pre-existing MSD risk factors to less physically demanding tasks to reduce strain on their musculoskeletal system.
  • Ergonomic Modifications: Providing ergonomic equipment, such as adjustable workstations, lifting aids, and specialised tools, to reduce physical demands and improve posture.
  • Employee Training: Providing training to employees on proper ergonomics, posture, and lifting techniques to prevent further musculoskeletal strain.
  • Regular Monitoring: Regularly monitoring the effectiveness of interventions and conducting periodic OHPEAs to assess the impact on MSD incidence and employee well-being.

As a result of these measures, the prevalence of MSDs among new employees significantly decreased, reducing pain and discomfort, improving productivity, and lowering healthcare costs.


Occupational health pre-employment assessment plays a vital role in safeguarding workplace safety, preventing work-related illnesses, and promoting employee well-being. Organisations can create a healthier, safer, and more productive workforce by identifying potential health risks, assessing an individual’s fitness for the job, and providing appropriate interventions.


  1. Evaluation of the Statement of Fitness for Work: qualitative research with employers and employees. By Mumtaz Lalani, Pamela Meadows, Hilary Metcalf and Heather Rolfe.
  2. Value of Functional Capacity Evaluation Information in a Clinical Setting for Predicting Return to Work. Streibelt M, Blume C, Thren K, Reneman MF, Mueller-Fahrnow W.

Speak to an Occupational Health professional today.

Article fact-checked and approved by Dr. Amun Kalia and Dr Deryk Waller