An Ultimate Guide to Occupational Health Screening
Employees are the most important asset of any company. Occupational health checks help to keep the workforce healthy and productive. Healthy employees can be more efficient and are less likely to be absent from work. An employee’s health status will also help to determine their suitability for the job at hand.
Occupational Health Screening
Occupational health screening as a term is broad. As is it’s practice.
- It can determine the health of an employee
It can reveal an employee’s ability to carry out their job
It can determine any risks the employee may present in the work environment.
It can assess whether the work environment or conditions have posed any risks to the employee’s health.
When Are Employees Subject To Health Screening?
Employees could be subjected to health assessment at multiple stages of employment. It could be pre-employment (baseline screening), at periodic intervals during employment, after returning to work from a prolonged leave of absence due to health reasons, and/or when an employee leaves their job (exit screening).
The pre-employment baseline screening is used to assess the employee’s physical and medical suitability for a role, and determine if a pre-existing condition might make the prospective employee vulnerable to health risks related the job or if the health risks of the job would worsen an existing health condition.
Depending on the industry one’s employed in, employees are subjected to routine occupational health screenings. While it is more frequent in some lines of work (like those who are exposed to loud noisy work environments or those who work in mineral mines), in others it is not so frequent (say, desk jobs).
An employee is also required to undergo health surveillance when he/she returns to work from a prolonged sickness absence. This is to ascertain their current suitability in performing in the work environment.
In some instances, even employees switching jobs/leaving companies are subjected to occupational health screenings. This might be done to ensure that a worker working in a high-risk area doesn’t become a source of spreading an infection to other people and places.
Besides work-related factors that contribute to the poor health of an individual, lifestyle-related habits or changes could also hamper one’s health. The occupational health screening process allows for these to be detected early and thus facilitates the implementation of measures to prevent further development of other illnesses.
What Questions to Expect During Screening?
At a screening session, an employee can expect to be asked questions regarding their medical and possibly family past to generate a history. Additionally, physical checks, blood tests, and even drug testing may be carried out.
The basic information will include the employee’s personal particulars, as well as their job title. Their past employment history may also be requested. This may give insight into how those past jobs may influence the employee’s current baseline. Other questions may be related to the current physical capabilities such as vision, agility and other questions along those lines. The questions may also seek to find out about the past and current ailments and allergies as well as current medications or treatments.
Physical particulars such as weight and height will be measured and recorded, as well as a record of past vaccinations will need to be produced. Any missing vaccines will need to be brought up to date.
At the end of the screening process, you will be required to sign a declaration confirming the truthfulness of the information provided. You will also be given assurance that all of your information will be handled in a confidential manner.
How Health Screening Differs for Various Industries?
Various industries will perform a occupational health assessment with differing parameters due to the nature of the job, the working conditions or the health policies of the company.
For example, jobs that involve working at heights assessment may include work related stress health parameters while those working in noisy environments will be monitored more closely for noise induced hearing loss.
The approach a company chooses may be based on the organization’s size. This will also influence what it will cost them to have each individual worker screened and how detailed the screen will be.
If a worker may be exposed to a high-stress work environment, a psychological component may be a part of their screening process. This will help to determine how well they can endure such conditions. For individuals who may work in a highly noisy environment, audiological screening may be required.
Some work situations in which auditory health screening may be required include the manufacturing industry, flight crews, farming (where heavy machinery is operated), ambulance drivers, athletes, dentists, motorcycle couriers or riders, bartenders, construction jobs, and music professionals.
Where a job may be particularly physically demanding, those employees would be required to undergo some physical ability tests to determine suitability for the position.
In other cases, blood work may be required which can provide a variety of information.
All of these various checks are carried out in the different industries to give employers an indication of the level of health the employee started out with. Having this information is very useful as it could be a basis for comparison with future health screens to determine the progression of health status especially if it is impacted by the job.
How Companies Benefit from Screening?
This type of screening allows companies to be able to get an idea of the future health risks to their workforce and adopt a proactive approach to addressing those factors.
When employees become aware of their health status, they will be better equipped to address these issues. As a result, there will be fewer cases of absence due to illness and increased productivity for the company.
Workers will also enjoy increased morale and greater commitment to their employers.
The benefits of remote testing for companies also include financial savings. This is important because companies save money when they eliminate the need to pay for the transportation of workers to testing locations and can instead have them tested right at their place of employment.
In cases where audiometric screening is required, companies have benefit from increased productivity because workers did not have to spend an entire day or half a day away from work traveling to a separate location to have the screening done.
With mobile health screening, a larger number of employees can be included in the screening activity, since it will be conducted right on site. This is an additional way for companies to boost productivity and save costs by not having to operate with a significantly reduced staff complement and still having to pay wages for a missed day.
The savings are further increased because it is often cheaper for companies to make use of remote screening.
Test results can also be made immediately available thus eliminating the need to wait for the results to address areas of concern.
How Employees Benefit From Screening?
When employees participate in health screening, they will be able to find out their exact state of health. They can thus take steps to lower their levels of risk and pay targeted attention to their health problems. This will help to stem the exacerbation of conditions to which they may have a predisposition.
Employees will also benefit in a mental way and be able to be more productive while on the job. All of this information for employees can be obtained through the convenient arrangement facilitated by the workplace, at no extra expense to them.
Various Forms of Screening
On the job, health screening may be performed on an ongoing basis, at multiple year intervals, as required by law or even form part of the process prior to an employee being hired. The various forms are discussed in brief below.
Ongoing Health Screening
These are also called surveillance checks which are usually legally required based on the nature of the job. For workers who may be exposed to hazardous chemicals or substances, the laws of some countries stipulate that routine checks be conducted to ensure that the health of these individuals has not been compromised.
Employment Health Checks
As part of their employment procedures, some companies require new members of staff to be tested to determine their level of fitness for the job. This is again done based on the nature of the job or because of the policies of the company.
The results of the screening will allow the employer to be able to determine whether they will be required to provide additional support in the way of health care services for these employees.
Multiple Year Interval Checks
In some countries, when workers fall within a particular age range, it becomes mandatory that they are screened at scheduled intervals, for example, every five years.
Workplace Wellness Programmes
In some companies, a wellness program is offered to support the health and well being of employees. In some of these programs, a component exists which allows workers to be tested to determine their general health.
Some of these checks include blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol checks. Lifestyle habits and issues may also be addressed which include smoking, obesity, alcohol drinking, not getting enough exercise and also poor eating habits.
What Kinds of Screening Tests May be Performed?
The types of tests an employee may have to undergo will be based on what the employer requires as well as the potential hazards or demands of the job which will or may possibly affect certain parameters.
Checks such as height, body mass index and weight may be carried out. In addition blood pressure checks, pulse rates, and pulmonary function testing may also be a part of the battery of tests. There is also audiological testing which may be done using a screening audiometer such as the KUDUwave™, to determine if you have any loss of hearing. Breath alcohol testing may also be done in some cases.
Some the tests may include respiratory fitness tests such as Tuberculosis. Hepatitis B, lipid profile, and blood glucose levels may also be tested along with drug testing and other blood-related tests. Vaccinations or immunization tests may be administered at this point if not up to date at the time.
For jobs which naturally come along with a high level of stress, psychological profiling will be done to determine fitness.
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