Physical Capability Assessment (PCA)

Addressing your employees’ functional ability to complete intensive physical tasks now and in the future.

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Disabled person assessing the workplace after undergoing an onsite physical capability assessment

Physical Capability Assessment (PCA)

Musculoskeletal Capability to Perform Work-Based Physical Tasks

Physical Capability Assessments report on the functional ability to complete intensive and/or repetitive physical tasks now and in the future by addressing musculoskeletal capability to perform work-based physical tasks.

  • Data analysis chart vector

    Some job roles are more physical than others and being able to establish which elements of a physically demanding role contribute to MSK ill health is a specific science of functional movement, strength, and conditioning.

    We are able to advise on an individual’s capacity to complete a physical role by assessing each specific task to determine whether or not the individual can complete the task/s appropriately as per their contractual requirements or demands. These assessments provide employers with knowledge and information to understand any physical limitations and capability of an employee and gives them the ability to support, adjust and/or manage the functions of the job.


  • For the employer

    The purpose of the PCA is to clearly detail the tasks within a role that are cause for concern or a barrier to work. Employers can consider addressing the barriers or potentially investigate alternative working arrangements to sustain work attendance, optimising the support from the workplace.

  • For the manager

    PCA reports provide specific functional advice around such tasks as lifting, carrying, twisting, walking, using stairs and even sitting whilst performing manual work. Workplace recommendations, temporary or permanent will be prescriptive and precise allowing managers to understand the physical issues and conditions that the employee is experiencing and the barriers that these symptoms present at work.

  • For the employee

    Employees who may experience long-term chronic physical disability or temporary physical difficulty because of invasive surgery would benefit from the support offered by a PCA assessment to achieve an effective and successful return to the workplace. Commonly also a gateway into receiving physiotherapy intervention, the PCA will support the colleague appropriately and efficiently.

As occupational MSK specialists, we have been able to be innovative by creating a suite of bespoke PCA assessments and reports.

Recognising that not only are roles different, but industry requirements, regulations and patterns of operational feasibility differ, we have worked alongside our clients to create industry specialised PCA tests, assessments & reports. The success in our capability to report relating uniquely to specifically detailed roles and tasks has allowed our clients to be confident in our ability to deliver quality, driven by the client’s requirement.

Unlike a standard Occupational Health Referral for MSK issues, the PCA is a specialist intervention that focuses on assessing employees in highly physically demanding job roles, or for individuals with multiple complex Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD’s). We can assess an employee's ability to move around the workplace, use specialist equipment, or overcome movement barriers. For example, PCAs are appropriate for roles that involve prolonged walking, the use of ladders or frequent stair use. The assessment can be carried out face to face, in the clinic, on client sites if necessary or via secure telephone and video link.

The PCA assessment will provide information about an employee’s capabilities to physically function in general. This is carried out through formal subjective assessment of symptoms and professional analysis of their movements, either in clinic, on a client site, or remotely, using a video link platform. A full history of activities and any physical difficulties at home and at work is essential and this is documented to ensure comparisons can be made and appropriate conclusions drawn. Reports are concise for managers to follow and comprehend, so the clinician will document the reasons for any recommended adjustments and include details of any support required to enable the individual to remain in work, in a substantive role, where this is possible. Recommendations for further treatment may also be documented.

Frontline police officers have specific capability requirements which are specialised in terms of physical demand particularly linked to some functions of the job such as pursuit, mandatory safety training or the use of specific equipment and potentially restraint techniques. As a consequence of our knowledge, experience and learning, we are able to conduct a bespoke assessment for frontline officers, taking into consideration all operational demands above and beyond those of other police roles with less specialised working conditions. The assessment will establish the capability to perform specific physical tasks, and the resultant report will provide advice regarding temporary or permanent modifications or role amendments, with timeframes and likely outcomes.

An Onsite Access PCA is a bespoke physical assessment in the workplace, to establish the individual’s physical capability to mobilise around the workspace, including the use of stairs and access personal hygiene facilities etc.  This assessment is especially beneficial for individuals with functionally debilitating conditions such as rheumatism, fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Motor Neurone Disease, or wheelchair users, for example. Managers can be reassured that they will receive a report allowing the most appropriate organisational input for support, where it is identified that accessibility could be maximised to facilitate a colleague with regards to the workspace throughout the course of a working day. 


Physical Capability Assessment FAQs

  • What is a physical capability assessment?

    A Physical Capability Assessment is an assessment of your body’s working ability to perform specific functional tasks, such as, for example, lifting, carrying, walking up and downs stairs, bending, reaching or even sitting or lying down, depending on the nature of your job role requirements.

  • How do you measure physical abilities?

    Physical abilities are measured using tools that are called ‘outcome measures’. These are researched, trialled, validated and reliable tests that allow a trained, qualified, and competent healthcare professional to examine all manner of physical movements, techniques and/or tasks.

  • What are the four physical abilities?

    Four different types of physical ability include coordination, strength, flexibility, and balance. Additional types of physical ability include stamina and force. Each of these types of ability may be measured dynamically, statically, or explosively.

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