What is a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE)

Drugs & Alcohol 23 Jan 2019


Services to Assist Ongoing Suitable Employment within a Rehabilitation and Return to Work Program

Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE)

In summary, a Functional Capacity Evaluation is an assessment containing a series of tests to determine a worker’s physical ability to meet the functional demands associated with their pre- injury role, thus, assisting them with their recovery and or return to work. These evaluations match the workers’ physical abilities to the critical demands of the job requirements that are needed to be met.
Functional Capacity Evaluations cover a wide range of tests including but not limited to:
  • History
  • Current medical concerns
  • Discussion of work demands (review of Job Task Analysis if available)
  • Medical history reviewed and summarised
  • Objective functional testing including lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, kneeling, squatting, gripping, reaching, bending, walking, standing
  • Job specific tasks simulated during the assessment
  • Outline of current functional abilities demonstrated during the assessment
  • Opinion and recommendations on the workers’ ability to perform the pre-injury duties as outlined in Job Task Analysis / or as reported if task analysis not available
Benefits on a Functional Capacity Evaluation in a Rehabilitation and Return to Work Program
By conducting a functional capacity test on an injured worker, both the company and the worker will be provided with a clear and defined plan with regards to the injured worker’s re-integration back into the workforce. By focusing on the current functional ability of the worker while rehabilitating from an injury, suitable duties can be identified reducing the risk of aggravation or re-injury.
When should a Functional Capacity Evaluation be used?

A Functional Capacity Evaluation can be be used in the following situations to determine:

  • The worker’s safety to perform their current role
  • Capacity for full duties before receiving a full medical clearance
  • Current capacity for suitable duties following an injury/illness
  • Work Based Functional Capacity Evaluation
If a work based FCE is performed, the worker is requested to demonstrate their capacity to perform their usual duties and/or tasks, so that an opinion can be made regarding their safety if they were to return to pre-injury duties. In certain instances, the worker may also be requested to demonstrate their capacity to perform alternate or suitable duties available within the workplace, thus allowing recommendations to be formulated with respect to the workers return to work if deemed to be unsafe to return to pre-injury duties.
Clinic Based Functional Capacity Evaluation
Clinic based FCE’s attempt to replicate an individuals’ pre-injury job demands by simulating their pre-injury duties within a clinic environment. The worker is requested to demonstrate the capacity to perform certain tasks, with the weights, dynamic and positional tolerances tested based on the individuals’ position description or Job Task Analyses. In the event that either documents are available, clinicians attempt to reproduce the critical functional demands through subjective reports from both the Employer and Worker so as to provide an objective opinion regarding the workers’ capacity to return to work, necessary restrictions and future rehabilitation needs.

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