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State Management Personnel Manual

2600 Employee Health Service

2620 (G) Development of Physical/Medical Standards


.110 General Information

.111 EHS staff provide consultation and assistance in the development of medical and physical standards for State job titles that require them. The purpose of establishing physical and medical standards and associated preplacement examinations is to measure the medical fitness of individuals to perform their essential functions without hazard to themselves or others. The results of the examination are also useful to assist individuals in the maintenance or improvement of their health and to establish a baseline record of the condition of the individual at the time of hiring for later use in the detection of the effects of harmful working conditions.

See titles at the end of this section for a listing of the titles for which physical and/or medical standards are currently established.

.112 Location—Cohoes Examination Center

.120 Legal Basis

.121 Pursuant to Section 50.4(b) of the Civil Service Law, the Civil Service Department may refuse to certify an applicant who is found to have a physical or mental disability that renders him or her unfit for the performance of the essential functions of the position in which he or she seeks employment, or which may reasonably be expected to render him or her unfit to continue to perform the essential functions of such positions. A physical or mental disability is defined as a physical, mental or medical impairment resulting from anatomical, physiological or neurological conditions that prevents the exercise of a normal bodily function or is demonstrable by medically accepted clinical or laboratory diagnostic techniques. Other statutes impacting on the establishment of physical and medical standards include the State Human Rights Law, the State Flynn Act, and Sections 503 and 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended, and the Americans With Disabilities Act. In addition, NYS Executive Order 6 and Executive Chamber Policy Memo 87:14 concerning reasonable accommodations may apply.

.130 Principles in Setting Physical and/or Medical Standards

.131 The standards developed by the Employee Health Service are based upon the definition of the job tasks and associated working conditions as defined by the agency. The establishment of physical and/or medical standards for a State job title must be in accordance with certain basic principles in order to assure that the standards accurately reflect the minimum qualifications necessary to effectively perform the essential function of the job. These principles are listed below. In the event of challenge to the standards, the Employee Health Service must defend the medical aspects of the standard in question but the agency must defend the job requirements upon which the medical standard was based. General principles used to determine the appropriateness of a physical/medical standard include:

  1. The standard must be job related.
  2. The examination, test or procedure used to evaluate a candidate against the standard has a high predictive value and is the most accurate test that is feasible to use.
  3. The examination, test or procedure indicates that the candidate has a strong likelihood of developing a serious injury or illness in the foreseeable future and that the applicant's likelihood of illness or injury represents a significant variation from the general worker population.
    1. The results of the test or procedure are unequivocal.
    2. The injury or illness to which the candidate is predisposed is severe.
    3. There is a high probability that the candidate will develop an injury or illness.
    4. The adverse effects on health of the candidate will be manifested in the reasonably foreseeable future.
    5. The candidate's individual risk of illness, upon which the exclusionary practice is based, represents a significant variation from the general population.
  4. The disqualification or other adverse personnel action was based on an individualized determination of fitness.
  5. No reasonable accommodations will permit the individual to perform the essential job functions.
  6. It is essential to the agency that employees not suffer or be suffering from an illness or injury that interferes with the ability to perform the essential job functions,


.410 Arrangements

.411 The decision to pursue establishment or revision of physical and/or medical standards is usually made by the Civil Service Staffing Representative and the agency personnel officer at the time preparations are begun to hold an examination for a job title. The Staffing Services Representative contacts the Employee Health Service to schedule a scope conference with the EHS medical staff to determine the need for establishing or revising standards. Arrangements for payment of clinical laboratory fees, the need for physical ability testing, drug screens, and psychological testing will also be discussed at this time. It is recommended that the conference also be attended by an individual in the job title, an individual who supervises appointees to the title, a representative of the Department of Civil Service Counsel's office and other appropriate Department of Civil Service staff.

.412 Prior to the scope conference, the agency personnel officer should submit to the Employee Health Service an updated written description of the essential functions of the position for which the examination is being held. This description should be supplemented by written information concerning working conditions and physical abilities related to the job, and specific job function to which these working conditions and physical abilities apply. See 2620(G) for a sample listing of working conditions and physical abilities that may be considered for this purpose.

.413 If needed, arrangements will be made for EHS representatives to visit the job site to become familiar with the job and working conditions.

.414 Following the scope conference, draft standards will be prepared by EHS and sent to the Department of Civil Service legal staff, the Staffing Services Representative, and the agency personnel officer for comment and approval. Medical areas typically addressed in the standards include:

Height and Weight General Medical Condition
Color Vision Vision
Cardiovascular System Neurological System
Respiratory System Musculoskeletal System
Mental Health Smell
Diabetes Hearing
Speech Pathology  

.415 Based upon comments received and any additional information, the proposed standards are revised by EHS and, if necessary, recirculated for comment and/or approval.

.416 Standards are adopted jointly by the agency or agencies that determined the standard to be a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ), the Department of Civil Service Office of the Counsel, EHS, and Staffing Services.

.417 The Staffing Services Representative arranges for the examination announcement to carry a notice informing applicants of the existence of the standards and how to obtain copies of such standards.

.418 If there have not been any changes in the essential duties of the position since the last scope conference and if the agency does not require revisions to the current standard, then such standards can be renewed without a scope conference. EHS-983 (which can be found at must be completed and signed by both an agency representative and the Staffing Services representative. This form should be submitted to the EHS Medical Director for approval to renew the current standards. Any standards that are not renewed will expire when the new eligible list becomes effective.

Assistant Drill Rig Operator Park Patrol Officer Trainee
Associate Industrial Hygienist Park Ranger (Public Safety)
Assistant Traffic Signal Mechanic Parole Officer Trainee , 1
Associate Radiophysicist Police Investigator Academy Cadet (Law)
Associate Safety & Health Engineer Program Education Specialist & Coordinator
Beverage Control Investigator & Trainee Public Health Specialist 1, 2, 3, 4
Boiler Inspector Railroad Equipment Inspector
Bridge Repair Assistant Railroad Track and Structures Inspector
Cadet Counselor Revenue Crimes Specialist 1, 2, 3 Trainee
Cadet Leader 1, 2 Safety & Health Inspector Trainee
Campus Public Safety Officer 1 Safety & Security Officer Trainee
Communications Technician Secure Care Treatment Aide 1
Correction Officer Trainee Security Hospital Treatment Assistant
Developmental Disabilities SCTA 1 Security Officer (and Spanish Speaking)
Environmental Conservation Officer Trainee 1 Security Screener (DSP)
Excise Tax Investigator Security Services Assistant 1
Facility Parole Officer Senior Industrial Hygienist
Farm Products Grading Inspector 1 Senior Safety & Health Engineer
Fire Protection Specialist Trainee 1, 2 Senior Safety & Health Inspector
Forest Ranger 1 (EnCon) Ski Lift Operator 1, 2, and Ski Lift Attendant
Forest Ranger (Parks) Supervising Traffic Signal Mechanic
Highway Maintenance Worker 1 Tour Guide (OGS)
Industrial Hygienist Trainee 1, 2 Traffic Signal Helper
Intermodal Transportation Specialist 1, 2 Traffic Signal Mechanic
Investigator (Tax) Tree Pruner
Law Dept. Investigator Trainee, 1 Tree Pruner Supervisor
Mapping Technician 2, 3 University Police Officer 1
Motor Carrier Investigator (DOT) Warrant &Transfer Officer
Motor Equipment Mechanic Weights and Measures Specialist 1, 2, 3
Motor Vehicle Inspector, (DOT) Wilderness Challenge Aide 1,2
Motor Vehicle Investigator & Trainee (DMV) Youth Division Aide 4
Narcotic Investigator Trainee 1, 2  


  1. Inside—Working under a roof and with all sides protected from the weather.
  2. Outside—Working outside exposed to the weather—heat, cold, humidity, dryness, wetness, and dust (due to climate rather than other resources).
  3. Low Temperature—Working in a relatively low average degree of temperature.
  4. High Temperature—Working in a relatively high average degree of temperature.
  5. Sudden Temperature Changes—Working where temperature changes of more than 10 degrees may take place.
  6. Low Humidity—Working under conditions in which the atmosphere contains a low degree of moisture relative to temperature and air movement.
  7. High Humidity—Working under conditions in which the atmosphere contains a high-degree of moisture relative to temperature and air movements.
  8. Wetness—Contact with water at site of work.
  9. Slippery Surfaces—Working where there is a possibility of falling or losing one's footing because of slippery surfaces.
  10. Body Injuries—Possibility of cuts, bruises, sprains, fractures, or amputation.
  11. High Elevations—Working above floor or ground level.
  12. Confined Spaces and/or Cramped Body Positions—Positions in which the worker is narrowly hemmed in, or work which requires awkward or strained positions to perform.
  13. Moving Objects—Working on or about moving machinery or equipment in the vicinity of vehicles in motion, or near any object that changes place or position whereby the well-being of the worker may be jeopardized.
  14. Vibration—Exposure of the body, particularly the arms and legs, to sudden jerks and jars or vibration.
  15. Noise—Working condition in which sound is produced as part of the work process or is a part of the job.
  16. Burns—Possibility of injuries to the body caused by heat, fire, chemicals or electricity.
  17. Non-ionizing Radiation—Possibility of exposure to radiation caused by welding flash, microwaves, or sunburn.
  18. Dust—Working in an area where the air contains varying quantities of fine, dry particles of earth or matter other than free silica or asbestos.
  19. Silica Dust—Working in an area which contains free silica or asbestos dust.
  20. Allergenic—Working in situations with possibility of exposure to common allergy-causing agents such as bee or wasp stings and poison oak, ivy and sumac.
  21. Toxic Conditions—Exposure to toxins; dusts, fumes, liquids, gasses (aldehydes, other than gasses resulting from plastics fires; or carbon monoxide. the effects of which may be multiplied by smoking or proximity to open flame) which cause general or localized disabling conditions.
  22. Chemical Irritant—Working in situations where chemical irritants such as fires with plastics may be involved.
  23. Oily—Using oil or grease in normal performance of work.
  24. Odors—Working conditions in which worker necessarily comes in contact with noxious air.
  25. Explosives—Working with or near material which, under certain conditions, is apt to rapidly burst or break up into pieces, accompanied by a noise.
  26. Electrical Hazards—Possibility of contact with uninsulated or unshielded electrical equipment.
  27. Ionizing Radiation—Possibility of exposure to radiation from such sources as radioactive isotopes, x-rays, and other nuclear substances.
  28. Infections—Any infections caused by micro-organisms.
  29. Air Pressure—Working under a high or low pressure condition caused by atmosphere or compressed air forces.
  30. Working with Others—Association with others in the course of job performance.
  31. Responsibility for Persons—Having responsibility for the welfare and lives.
  32. Irregular or Extended Work Hours—Working under conditions that cause fluctuating work hours.
  33. Continuity—Work involves activities which, if interrupted, would create a serious problem to the agency, or hazard to the employee, co-workers or the public.
  34. Availability of Medications—Working conditions are such that employees unable to obtain necessary treatments or medications, may create or contribute to the development of a dangerous situation of the worksite.


  1. Static Strength—This is the ability to use muscle force to lift, push, pull, or carry objects. It is the maximum force that one can exert for a brief period of time. This ability can involve the hand, arm, back, shoulder, or leg.
  2. Explosive Strength—This is the ability to use short bursts of muscle force to propel one's self, as in jumping or sprinting, or to throw objects. It requires gathering energy for bursts of muscular effort over a very short period of time.
  3. Dynamic Strength—This ability involves the degree to which the muscles do not fatigue when exerted in repeated or continuous movement. This is the ability to support, hold up, or move the body's own weight repeatedly or continuously over time.
  4. Trunk Strength—This ability involves the degree to which one's stomach and lower back muscles can support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time. The ability involves the degree to which these trunk muscles do not "give out", or fatigue, when they are put under such repeated or continuous strain.
  5. Stamina—This is the ability to exert oneself physically over a period of time without getting winded or out of breath.
  6. Effort—This is the degree of physical exertion experienced in performing either a single task or a series of tasks.
  7. Extent Flexibility—This is the ability to bend, stretch, twist or reach out with the body, arms and/or legs.
  8. Dynamic Flexibility—This is the ability to bend, stretch, twist or reach out with the body, arms and/or legs both quickly and repeatedly.
  9. Mobility—The capacity to move one's body from place to place. This capacity does not include accuracy, speed, or precise coordination.
  10. Speed of Limb Movement—This ability involves the speed with which a single movement of the arms or legs can be made. This ability does not include accuracy, careful control or coordination of movement.
  11. Gross Body Coordination—This is the ability to coordinate the movement of the arms, legs and torso together in activities where the whole body is in motion.
  12. Gross Body Equilibrium—This is the ability to keep or regain one's body balance or to stay upright when in an unstable position. This ability includes maintaining one's balance when changing direction while moving or standing motionless. This ability does not include balancing objects.
  13. Arm-Hand Steadiness—This is the ability to keep the hand and arm steady. It includes steadiness while making an arm movement as well as while holding the arm and hand in one position. This ability does not involve strength or speed.
  14. Manual Dexterity—This is the ability to make skillful, coordinated movements of one hand, a hand together with its arm, or two hands. These movements are used to grasp, place, move or assemble objects like hand tools or blocks. This ability involves the degree to which these arm-hand movements can be carried out quickly. It does not involve moving machine or equipment controls like levers.
  15. Finger Dexterity—This is the ability to make skillful, coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands and to grasp, place, or move small objects. This ability involves the degree to which these finger movements can be carried out quickly.
  16. Near Vision—The capacity to see close environmental surroundings.
  17. Far Vision—The capacity to see distant environmental surroundings.
  18. Visual Color Discrimination—The capacity to match or discriminate between colors. This capacity also includes differences in color purity (saturation) and brightness (brilliance).
  19. Hearing—The ability to hear and understand conversation in a quiet environment. This is the ability to hear and understand conversation when it is quiet, such as in a living room, a small group meeting or in a quiet restaurant.
  20. Hearing—The ability to hear and understand conversation in a noisy environment. This is the ability to hear and understand conversation when there is background noise present such as in a coffee shop at lunch time, in a noisy office or when riding in a car with the windows down.
  21. Hearing—The ability to tell where sound is coming from. This is the ability to determine the correct location of a sound (with your eyes closed), such as where a car is coming from or where the sound of footsteps are coming from.
  22. Hearing—The ability to discriminate among environmental (non-speech) sounds. This is the ability to identify environmental sounds such as tappets pinging in a car or different types of power tools.

TM-63; July 2008

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