An Ergonomic Evaluation/ADA Accommodation Assessment is an interactive, ergonomic analysis of how a worker’s impairments or restrictions impact safe job performance, with recommendations for temporary or permanent job accommodations.

Standard components of an Ergonomic Evaluation/ADA Accommodation Assessment include:

  1. Mechanism of injury/health history
  2. Current work and lifestyle restrictions
  3. Job performance concerns/barriers
  4. Work methods and functional job demands
  5. Ergonomic risk factors/hazards present
  6. Job safety history (OSHA, Workers’ Comp claims)
  7. Research to identify reasonable accommodation options
  8. Summary with clarification of limiting health conditions, suitability for any specific job and accommodation option

If worker restrictions are unclear, then the Ergonomic Evaluation/ADA Accommodation Assessment may additionally include limited functional capacity tests with an emphasis on content validity to measure the evaluee’s ability to perform the physical demands of specific job options. Our completely mobile exam process eliminates transportation barriers and time-inefficiencies for the worker and employer.

Issues That May Prompt A Referral Include:

  • Supporting documentation is requested to help render a final hiring or job placement decision for a disabled applicant or worker
  • To determine feasibility of accommodations to address worker barriers to safe and productive job performance
  • To evaluate readiness of a disabled worker to return to full duty or temporary, modified duty
  • To evaluate whether an injured worker is likely to benefit from continued participation in a company’s transitional work program

The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) In a Nutshell

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications and access to state and local government’ programs and services. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990 and is a signature achievement of the disability rights movement. It is designed to ensure a more inclusive America where every person has the right to participate in all aspects of society, including employment. In 2015, Americans celebrated the 25th anniversary of the ADA, acknowledging the many advances the law has brought about while still recognizing that much work remains to be done. Covered employers are required to provide “reasonable accommodations” to qualified job applicants and employees with disabilities. This is defined as any change or adjustment to a job, work environment, or the way things are usually done that would allow an individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform job functions, or enjoy equal access to benefits available to other employees.

Facts About the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

An individual with a disability is a person who:

  • Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
  • Has a record of such an impairment; or
  • Is regarded as having such an impairment.

A qualified employee or applicant with a disability is an individual who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job in question. Reasonable accommodation may include, but is not limited to:

  • Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.
  • Job restructuring, modifying work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position;
  • Acquiring or modifying equipment or devices, adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials, or policies, and providing qualified readers or interpreters.

An employer is required to make a reasonable accommodation to the known disability of a qualified applicant or employee if it would not impose an “undue hardship” on the operation of the employer’s business. Reasonable accommodations are adjustments or modifications provided by an employer to enable people with disabilities to enjoy equal employment opportunities. Accommodations vary depending upon the needs of the individual applicant or employee. Not all people with disabilities (or even all people with the same disability) will require the same accommodation. For example:

  • A deaf applicant may need a sign language interpreter during the job interview.
  • An employee with diabetes may need regularly scheduled breaks during the workday to eat properly and monitor blood sugar and insulin levels.
  • A blind employee may need someone to read information posted on a bulletin board.
  • An employee with cancer may need leave to have radiation or chemotherapy treatments.

An employer does not have to provide a reasonable accommodation if it imposes an “undue hardship.” Undue hardship is defined as an action requiring significant difficulty or expense when considered in light of factors such as an employer’s size, financial resources, and the nature and structure of its operation.

An employer is not required to lower quality or production standards to make an accommodation; nor is an employer obligated to provide personal use items such as glasses or hearing aids.

An employer generally does not have to provide a reasonable accommodation unless an individual with a disability has asked for one. if an employer believes that a medical condition is causing a performance or conduct problem, it may ask the employee how to solve the problem and if the employee needs a reasonable accommodation. Once a reasonable accommodation is requested, the employer and the individual should discuss the individual’s needs and identify the appropriate reasonable accommodation. Where more than one accommodation would work, the employer may choose the one that is less costly or that is easier to provide.

How To Start the Interactive Process

According to ADA implementation regulations, reasonable accommodations are to be determined by what is termed an “interactive process.” Those regulations, which have been given deference by the federal courts, envision the following steps:

  • Employer should analyze the particular job involved to determine its purpose and essential functions.
  • The employer and the individual with the disability should work together to identify what barriers exist to that individual’s performance of a particular job function.
  • The employer, working with the individual with a disability, should identify a range of possible accommodations that have the potential to remove the difficulties, either in the work environment or job tasks, and which would allow the individual to perform the essential functions of the job.
  • Having identified various possible accommodations, the employer should assess the effectiveness of each accommodation and the preference of the individual to be accommodated and then determine whether the various accommodations would pose an undue hardship upon the employer.

Recently, in Barnett v. U.S. Air, Inc., 228 F.3d 1105 (9th Cir. 2000), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (whose decisions govern the Western states) addressed the interactive process in depth, noting that “the interactive process is a mandatory rather than a permissive obligation on the part of employers under the ADA and . . . this obligation is triggered by an employee or an employee’s representative giving notice of the employee’s disability and the desire for an accommodation.”

The Barnett case establishes guidelines for the interactive process, and the court’s discussion is extremely helpful to employers working with employees with disabilities.


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