What is Physical Demands Description

A PDD, or Physical Demands Description, is a document used by employers to objectively capture and describe the physical demands that are required to perform a particular job or role. Many will be familiar with the term Physical Demands Analysis (PDA) for this type of document, however, PDD is being used intentionally. A PDD is simply a detailed, objective description of the physical aspects of a particular job; there is no analysis being performed. For this reason, the word ‘Description’ is used rather than ‘Analysis’.

Who Uses PDD Information

A PDD can be used by a wide range of individuals within different organizations. It can be used internally in a workplace or externally by various individuals or organizations. Some examples are listed below:

Internal                             

External

Human Resources Family Doctors
Health & Safety Physiotherapists
Occupational Health Occupational Therapists
Managers  Workplace Safety & Insurance Board
Supervisors Worker Compensation
Engineers Insurance Providers

How PDD Information is Used

Adjudication of Claims 

PDDs can be used by insurance providers (particularly the WSIB in Ontario) to assist in the determination or work-relatedness or cause of injury in the adjudication of claims. There are limitations to the use of information for this purpose. 

Accommodation of a Worker

PDDs can be used as a reference to provide employers with specific information about jobs to quickly and effectively accommodate workers in jobs that are within prescribed physical restrictions by a healthcare practitioner. This should not be mistaken for simply matching restrictions and PDDs. A PDD does not eliminate the possibility of accommodating a restriction through modifications to the current process. 

Educate Treating Healthcare Practitioners

PDDs can provide treating healthcare practitioners with an accurate understanding of the tasks their patients are required to perform in their occupations. This can help in creating an effective treatment plan that considers the potential impact of work and may help them return to work more quickly, but also safely. 

Inform Prevention Efforts

PDDs can be used to guide further investigation into potential hazards or risk of injury. Workplaces can use the PDD observation and data collection process to flag potential hazardous tasks that require analysis or further investigation. It may result in ergonomic improvements such as process modifications or design changes that prevent future injuries.

Cautioned Uses of PDD Information

Job Matching to Restrictions

Using PDDs as the sole source of information for matching workers with restrictions to potential jobs is very problematic. There may be ways that a job or specific tasks could be modified in order to accommodate a worker with an impairment that are not captured in a PDD. It should be used as only one source of information in a larger process.

Risk Assessment

PDDs themselves are not an assessment or measure of risk. They can inform where further investigation is needed, but should not be used as a determination of risk. Body Postures – PDDs cannot be used to identify specific body postures for a task. Every worker is different and therefore it is impossible to document a common posture such as angle of back flexion or shoulder abduction. Stature, arm length, etc. can all have an impact on a worker’s posture.

Physical Demands Description Handbook

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