Employee psychological problems
can result in unproductive staff, workplace acrimony, and occasionally, even
deaths. Further, juries commonly award
multimillion dollar judgments against employers who do not take appropriate
action regarding impaired or dangerous employees. Consequently, it is imperative that employers and
EAPs take reasonable steps to maintain a safe environment and protect staff
from the sometimes devastating impact of employees suffering from psychological
Employers and EAP professionals can safeguard the workplace
with psychological Fitness for Duty (FFD) evaluations and psychological Risk
Assessments. They use FFD evaluations
to assess employees’ ability to work in the presence of problems such as
depression, anxiety, and conflicts with co-workers. Employers and EAPs request Risk Assessments when an employee,
because of psychological difficulties, might present a risk of self-harm or
danger to others.
||David Fisher, Ph.D., ABPP, L.P. — Dr. Fisher supervises psychiatric
and psychological Fitness for Duty and Risk Assessments nationwide. As a Diplomate in Clinical Psychology, Dr.
Fisher has extensive experience overseeing these assessments, and lectures
frequently on this topic.
These evaluations are distinct from EAP mental health
assessments, where the evaluating doctor establishes a treating doctor-patient
relationship with the employee. A
treating doctor, perhaps working through an EAP, might prescribe medications,
perform psychotherapy, and give the employee advice. In contrast, FFD exams and Risk Assessments require the doctor to
maintain a position of neutrality, and to advocate neither for the employer nor
for the employee.
Doctors performing either of these exams typically use a
variety of assessment techniques, designed to thoroughly evaluate employees’
behavior within the context of both the work and home environments. This article covers basic knowledge
employers and EAP professionals need to best utilize these specialized