In your industrial work site, is there an employee who gives you concerns about safety in the workplace?
Your son wants to become a pilot but took Adderall in high school to help him focus and concentrate on his work. Why is the FAA so concerned with his application to become a pilot?
As a hospital administrator, you’ve become concerned with an older surgeon who is too young to retire but who seems off his game. What are the risks concerning this surgeon’s continued work in the hospital?
The common thread in all of these scenarios is the need to have a fitness-for-duty (FFD) examination. A Psychological FFD examination is called for when an employee is undergoing a major stressor (e.g., divorce) and seems distracted and snappy with coworkers. A Neuropsychological FFD examination is needed when there is a problem that affects the employee’s brain (e.g., seizure, stroke, attention deficits), making it difficult to operate a control board, focusing in a crisis, or conducting a highly technical surgical operation.
For pilots, the application will help the FAA flag the need for a neuropsychological FFD exam due to substance abuse, the use of an antidepressant, the use of a stimulant for ADHD, or some other brain problem (e.g., history of traumatic brain injury) that would give concern for the operation of aircraft over long periods of flying time. The FAA recognizes that a neuropsychological examination is the best way to get meaningful data on whether the pilot is showing impairment. As these examinations are regulated by the agency (FAA), their scope and purpose has been highly systematized and is well thought out.
Neuropsychological FFD examinations of especially helpful in any workplace that has a safety-sensitive component: e.g., physicians working in hospitals; operators working in chemical plants; federal agents who carry a firearm. However, FFD examinations are also important for other highly responsible professionals: lawyers handling litigation, judges, professors, family doctors, psychologists, and CEOs of public corporations.