When organizations think of "fit for duty", they often think of drug and alcohol impairment. But what about fatigue impairment? Physical impairment? Psychological impairment? And what about the flip side… fit for worker? The purpose of this paper is to introduce how technology and metrics, combined with human factors, is redefining the Fit for Duty landscape.
Perhaps the most important question to ask is this; why do we need to test for fitness at all? Looking back at the industrial revolution, it used to be that someone would create a job and hire someone else to do it. It was pretty cut and dry. You show up at a given time, leave at a given time, and in between, do whatever was asked of you. Occasionally workers would get hurt. Occasionally workers would get fired with no explanation. If you showed up with alcohol on your breath, it was at the discretion of the company to let you work that day. Or ever again.
Today, we have an obligation to determine if a worker is fit for duty. We have to consider the impact on the health and safety of the worker themselves and those of their co-workers. We may even have to consider the health and safety of society at large. Now, work is much more structured and regulated. Employees are required to perform to work standards and they have an obligation to present themselves in a fit state at the start of their shift and throughout the work period. Basically, we design a job and then screen people to fit that job.
Part of the challenge is that different industries and even different disciplines are using the term "fit for duty" with different meanings and in different contexts. In most cases, fit has been subjectively defined, making it a challenge for HR departments and OHS professionals to manage. How do we find common medical and legal ground?