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JSAs / WSAs / PDAs – Sorting out Workplace Requirements

There are several terms associated with completing a Job Site Assessment (or Analysis).  JSA - Job Site Assessment/Analysis, WSA - Work Site Assessment or PDA - Physical Demands Analysis. All of which are objective methods of examining a particular job and breaking down that job into individual task requirements and tolerances. The main differentiating factor in the use of the different assessment terms is the method in which the data was collected.   However for simplicity, these assessments will collectively be referred to here as a “JSA”.

The primary component of a JSA should include the physical demands of the job (e.g. standing, walking, lifting, carrying, etc.).  Other components assessed include environmental/exposure (e.g. dust, vapor, moving objects, etc.), organizational (e.g. shift length, breaks, pace of work), and cognitive demands (e.g. vision, perception, feeling, reading, writing, hearing, and speech).  Objective measurements are taken during an on-site visit with the employer/job expert using various measurement tools (e.g. force gauge, weight scale, tape measure, pedometer, etc.).

JSAs are performed by a qualified and trained clinical professional such as a physiotherapist, kinesiologist, occupational therapist or chiropractor. The JSA and accompanying report provide the foundation of any return to work program and allows for other clinicians to compare the exact job requirements with a worker’s clinical presentation.  Furthermore, a JSA report assists physicians and other rehabilitative professionals in determining disability and also assists with hiring of new employees and the transfer of employees within a specific company.

The gold standard for a JSA is an on-site visit and interview (Job Site Assessment/Analysis) with the employer/job expert.  The employee’s job demands are observed in real time or simulated.   Measurements are taken by the assessor and an interview with the employee may also be conducted.  When the employer cannot permit an on-site visit, the assessor may conduct a telephone interview with the employer to confirm information gathered from the employee during an interview.  If consent for an on-site visit or telephone interview is not obtained by the employer, an interview with the employee is conducted along with a comparison to the National Occupational Classification (NOC) or Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT).  These are national classification systems which define typical job demands for vocations.  However, a full JSA is normally considered the gold standard and preferred option to ensure that the unique job requirements are most accurately reflected and in turn, utilized by other clinical assessors and/or decision makers on the file.