Publication Details

Petersen, S. R., Anderson, G. S., Tipton, M. J., Docherty, D., Graham, T. E., Sharkey, B. J. & Taylor, N. A.S.. Towards best practice in physical and physiological employment standards. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 2016; 41 (6, Suppl. 2): S47-S62.


While the scope of the term physical employment standards is wide, the principal focus of this paper is on standards related to physiological evaluation of readiness for work. Common applications of such employment standards for work are in public safety and emergency response occupations (e.g., police, firefighting, military), and there is an ever-present need to maximize the scientific quality of this research. Historically, most of these occupations are male-dominated, which leads to potential sex bias during physical demands analysis and determining performance thresholds. It is often assumed that older workers advance to positions with lower physical demand. However, this is not always true, which raises concerns about the long-term maintenance of physiological readiness. Traditionally, little attention has been paid to the inevitable margin of uncertainty that exists around cut-scores. Establishing confidence intervals around the cut-score can reduce for this uncertainty. It may also be necessary to consider the effects of practise and biological variability on test scores. Most tests of readiness for work are conducted under near perfect conditions, while many emergency responses take place under far more demanding and unpredictable conditions. The potential impact of protective clothing, respiratory protection, load carriage, environmental conditions, nutrition, fatigue, sensory deprivation, and stress should also be considered when evaluating readiness for work. In this paper, we seek to establish uniformity in terminology in this field, identify key areas of concern, provide recommendations to improve both scientific and professional practice, and identify priorities for future research.



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