Staywell » Blog »
Safety Critical Medicals: What You Need to Know
Employers have a duty of care to ensure the health and safety of their employees. This is even more important when safety critical tasks are being performed. Because of this, industries such as construction can benefit from giving their workers regular health checks that ensure they are fit for task and not liable to cause harm to themselves or those working around them.
The nature of work within industries such as construction can mean that employees are more likely to develop health conditions that affect their ability to work. This could be anything from musculoskeletal problems from dealing with heavy loads or working in awkward conditions to deterioration in hearing ability or sight. Often, workers will continue working with these conditions without understanding the risk they are exposing themselves to.
Other health conditions can develop outside of work and are more to do with the individual’s lifestyle. There could be issues relating to excess weight or problems such as high blood pressure or potential heart disease. There can also be mental health issues such as depression or anxiety which can lead to loss of concentration or poor decision making. Monitoring the on-going health of workers in safety critical professions is therefore vital when you consider the potential consequences.
The Benefits of Safety Critical Medicals
There are number of medical conditions that could be problematic for a worker who is in a safety critical environment.
- If they are likely to suddenly lose consciousness because they have a heart problem or an existing condition such as epilepsy.
- It they have a condition that impairs full movement such as musculoskeletal damage.
- If they have an impairment such as hearing loss that makes them less likely to notice warnings.
- If they are having trouble concentrating due to anxiety, underlying illness or depression.
With such a wide range of physical and mental health conditions that could cause problems operating in a job that is deemed safety critical, it makes sense to have health checks for staff on a regular basis. Employers are also bound by health and safety legislation to ensure that they make every attempt to keep their workers free from harm and that they are fit for task. An employee who has a chronic back issue could well struggle through the day and soldier on but if their mobility is putting themselves in danger and those around them, they cannot be considered safe in that job.
Peace of Mind in 30 Minutes
A safety critical medical will be able to spot if a particular worker is not fit for task. This can easily be carried out on site and form part of the company’s health and safety procedures. The medical starts with a questionnaire to ascertain the health background of the worker and this is then followed by simple, non-invasive tests for hearing, lung function, near & distance vision, colour vision, body mass index and blood pressure/heart health. A urine sample is normally taken which can be used to test for the presence of underlying health conditions or problems.
Following the test, a determination of fitness for task can then be undertaken by a qualified professional. If an individual has failed to prove their fitness for a safety critical job, then measures can be taken to put things right. This might involve moving the person to less dangerous activities, sending them to their GP for further assessment and monitoring progress until they are ready to return once health has improved.
For employers it is critical that they have workers in hazardous situations who are fit enough to be there. Failure to spot employees with health issues could not only lead to accidents on site and put others at risk but eventually end in prosecution for not complying with current health and safety legislation.