Elevating Physical Demand Analysis with Athletic Trainers

Athletic trainers can help elevate PDAs

Learn how athletic trainers can elevate a Physical Demand Analysis (PDA) to help companies better identify physical risks associated with certain jobs.

Author: Michael Donahue (DAT, LAT, ATC)

July 31, 2023

This is the fifth blog in CAREonsite’s series that explains how businesses can best utilize athletic trainers to improve the care and wellness of their employees. If you want to start at the beginning of the series, please go here.

In this blog series, we discussed how athletic trainers are a valuable asset in the occupational health setting. They can elevate on-site care, be paired with virtual services like telemedicine to increase access to expert care, and work with employers on injury prevention methods.

The next blog in our series covers how athletic trainers can help elevate a Physical Demand Analysis (PDA) – a common analysis used by many companies to identify physical risks associated with a job.

What is a PDA?

A PDA is an injury prevention tool that evaluates a specific workstation or a broader job title by:

  • Determining what physical requirements a person needs to perform a particular job.

  • Creating an objective and impartial assessment to aid future decision-making.

  • Acting as a living document. As a job evolves (new equipment, location, regulations), a PDA must be updated to accurately reflect job changes.

Because it evaluates and analyzes physical requirements and risks to a job, it is an excellent way for companies to make better decisions about the health and safety of their employees.

The Standard PDA Process

Generally, when it comes to PDAs, there are two options a company can use to complete them. The first is conducting a PDA internally using EH&S, operations, and/or HR personnel. The second is hiring an outside vendor to complete the PDA using medical professionals with specialized knowledge in occupational health and musculoskeletal injuries. Both follow a standard three-step process.

#1 Pre-analysis data gathering and research

A thorough PDA tries to gather as much information as possible before the analysis. This includes job details, HR documentation, and any preexisting analysis completed.

The PDA provider should also conduct interviews with management, supervisors, and the EH&S team to get a complete understanding of the workplace situation.

#2 On-site evaluation of jobs

A medical professional completes a thorough in-person evaluation of a job, including essential functions, physical tasks, mobility demands, cognitive/sensory demands, and environmental factors.

#3 Prepare and deliver a PDA report

Finally, a PDA report is provided that is accurate and compliant with ADA/EEOC requirements.

PDAs are important tools for health and safety professionals because they provide accurate job descriptions, help determine Return to Work (RTW) job placement, inform what PPE an employee should wear, and identify the risks of a job. In short, they are a key part of an organization’s effort to identify and prevent risks that can cause injuries.

Not All PDAs Are the Same

However, not all PDAs are the same. Health and safety professionals need to understand the success of a PDA depends on the provider you choose.

Does your provider:

  • Use the latest standards?

  • Use medical professionals with the best knowledge and skill to fully identify physical risk?

  • Offer impactful recommendations and support them with services to drive better outcomes?

  • Provide all aspects of a PDA that help prevent injuries including, essential functions, physical tasks, mobility demands, cognitive/sensory demands, and environmental factors.

Athletic Trainers: Medical Experts That Elevate PDAs

Because PDAs deal with physical demands associated with jobs, the specialized training of athletic trainers makes them ideal candidates to improve the effectiveness and quality of this analysis. If your company hires an outside vendor to conduct a PDA, choose one that uses athletic trainers (ATs).

PDAs administered by athletic trainers bring the following benefits:

Musculoskeletal expertise:

ATs are highly trained in musculoskeletal injuries and bring a deeper level of understanding, compared to other medical professionals, to identifying physical risks that can lead to workplace injuries. Also, because physical movement is their area of specialty, they are constantly learning and evolving their care and prevention services to the latest professional standards.

Ergonomic integration:

ATs are also highly skilled in understanding ergonomic issues and best practices to mitigate these risks. They bring this specialized knowledge to every PDA they conduct, allowing them to not only better identify ergonomic risks but also make recommendations on how to address them.

Prevention skills:

The most impactful skill ATs bring to the table is their injury prevention abilities. ATs are more knowledgeable in preventing physical injuries with targeted job conditioning, stretching, and strengthening. PDAs are designed and developed to help companies capitalize on injury prevention opportunities – and ATs are a best-in-class option to do so.

If you want to read more about how athletic trainers benefit occupational health services, please read the first blog in this series.

CAREonsite uses Licensed athletic trainers conduct all our PDAs.

CAREonsite – Best-In-Class PDAs

CAREonsite is dedicated to offering our clients the best. Licensed athletic trainers conduct all our PDAs because we know the value their medical expertise brings to a business.

The benefits of athletic trainers do not have to end with a PDA report. Unlike many other providers, CAREonsite can link the analysis with services that protect and prevent injuries. Here are some services (virtual and on-site) our athletic trainers can offer post-PDA.

  • Ergonomic counseling

  • Stretching and strengthening programs

  • Job conditioning

  • On-site athletic trainer

  • Virtual athletic trainer for injury surveillance

  • Worksite Injury Risk Analysis (WIRA)

Contact CAREonsite

Learn more about how athletic trainers can elevate your physical demand analysis by contacting CAREonsite today.