How To Write The Physical/Mental Demands Section Of A Job Description

By JDXpert - April 03, 2016

A job description is an important tool for both employers and employees.  They clarify the duties, expectations, and reporting requirements of a position and can assist managers and HR when conducting interviews, performance evaluations, compensation planning and more.  The basic elements of a job description includes the Job Title, Grade (salary structure), Department, Location, Salary Range, FLSA Classification, Job Summary, Supervision Exercised, Essential Duties and Responsibilities, Minimum Qualifications, and Physical/Mental Demands (including Environmental Conditions).

Including specific physical and mental demands in a job description can not only serve as a reminder of what is required from an employee on the job but also can help prevent injuries, be useful if a claim is issued, and help HR place returning workers’ compensation employees.  Below are some tips when constructing or revising your physical/mental requirements section.

Strength Guidelines
Make sure to indicate the maximum amount of weight the employee may be asked to lift during a normal day.  If you are creating a job description for an office worker, they more than likely will not have to do much lifting but occasionally may have to lift a box of paper which weighs in at approximately 20 lbs.  A construction or warehouse worker however, has a much more physically demanding job and may require the ability to lift heavier loads to complete their job.  When listing the strength guidelines of the job it is important to remain gender neutral to avoid discrimination claims.  A statement such as, this position requires heavy lifting so male employee preferred can get you into hot water. 

Motion Parameters
Job descriptions should also include the range of motion required for the position.  Office workers may be expected to sit at a desk for long hours while a retail sales associate may be required to stand for a full shift.  Other common parameters would be climbing stairs, walking, squatting, kneeling, or driving. 

Vision and Hearing Requirements
Vision and hearing requirements should also be included in the physical demands section of a job description.  A driver is often required to have the ability to read road signs and judge distances while an office worker may be expected to spend long hours in front of a computer screen.  That same office worker may also have to take phone calls while a factory worker may be exposed to loud noises and machinery.  Including this information can help ensure employees have the ability to do their job safely. 

Work Environment
Including the environmental conditions of the job is also important.  In this section, include if the worker will spend most of their time indoors or outdoors.  If they work primarily outdoors, they should be aware that they may be exposed to rain, snow, and extreme heat or cold.  A warehouse worker may have to spend hours packing inventory into a freezer so someone who can work in a cold environment is essential.  Also, if the job requires that the employee works with chemicals or hazardous material, this information should also be included in the job description.

Emotional Demands
Just as important as physical demands, emotional requirements should also be included in a job description. Specify if an employee is expected to make quick decisions, supervise workers, read or write, speak publicly, or interpret data.  

It may also be helpful to start from a checklist of the physical/emotional requirements and working conditions.  If you do not have one of your own, you may find our Essential Job Functions Worksheet (with physical/mental requirements section) helpful.



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