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A pre-employment physical capacity profile exam, commonly referred to as a PCP exam, is a type of physical exam conducted by healthcare professionals to assess a job applicant’s physical abilities and limitations.

The goal of this exam is to ensure the applicant is physically able to perform the essential job duties and tasks of the position they are applying for.

In this blog, we will explore what exactly a PCP exam entails and why employers find it useful.

The PCP Testing System

A PCP exam utilizes a standardized testing system called the Physical Capacity Profile (PCP) testing system. This system was developed by Dr. Gary Harbin to objectively measure an individual’s physical strength capabilities. The PCP testing system is a piece of equipment that assesses over 28 different maximum strength measurements across the body.

Some of the key body areas and functions assessed through the PCP system include upper and lower body strength, range of motion, lifting capacity, mobility, cardiovascular endurance, and more. The tests are designed based on standards from the Department of Labor for different classifications of work as well as guidelines from the American Medical Association.

The tests are conducted by a healthcare professional trained in administering the PCP tests. It typically takes 30 minutes or less to complete the full series of strength tests. Results are then analyzed using the PCP software which provides objective data on the applicant’s physical profile. Employers are able to access these results promptly to aid in hiring decisions.

Why Do Employers Use PCP Exams?

There are several important benefits that have led to widespread adoption of PCP pre-employment exams by companies:


By understanding an applicant’s physical limitations, employers can match them to jobs that they are physically capable of safely performing without risk of injury.


Workers who are physically fit for their jobs are more efficient and have fewer missed days. This optimizes business operations and minimizes disruptions.

Cost Savings

Matching workers’ abilities to tasks cut down on pricey workers’ compensation claims from injuries. Studies show PCP testing can reduce injury rates by 30% or more.

Risk Management

PCP exams establish an applicant’s baseline physical status. This provides legal defense if they are later injured on the job by documenting abilities up front.


The exam process and PCP system standards adhere to ADA and HIPAA requirements. It also meets guidelines from organizations like the Department of Labor.

What Happens During a PCP Exam?

Here is a typical step-by-step breakdown of what job applicants can expect during their PCP pre-employment physical:

  1. The patient fills out paperwork regarding their health history and consents to the exam and testing procedures.
  2. A physical exam is performed, looking at a range of motion, joints, postural assessments, and more. Vitals like blood pressure are also taken.
  3. Over the course of 30 minutes, the patient performs various tests on the PCP equipment, like lifting, pushing, pulling, and carrying weighted objects.
  4. Immediately after, the healthcare provider reviews the output from the PCP system which scores the patient’s performance on each strength metric.
  5. The provider discusses any medical findings or limitations observed during the exam with the applicant and employer’s representative.
  6. If deemed physically capable, the applicant receives clearance for the job in question based on the PCP data matching requirements.

By going through this standardized process, applicants, employers and doctors alike gain objective insight into physical abilities and limitations for safety and compliance. When done right, PCP exams set all parties up for success in the workplace.


A pre-employment physical capacity profile exam is an important screening tool used widely in occupational medicine. By utilizing the evidence-based PCP testing system, employers can feel confident new hires will be free from injuries on the job.

Applicants also benefit through fair evaluation and placement in jobs accommodating any physical restrictions. With an informative, incentive-driven process, PCP exams prove a win-win for businesses and individuals alike.

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