In this article, we are featured Steven John Cumper, founder of Medshop, who explains the significance of Health Surveillance in Risky Occupational Settings.
Workers in dangerous fields like mining and construction know that the health hazards that come with the job are serious. Health monitoring in these occupations is important to protect the health and safety of employees while also maintaining compliance with the Work Health and Safety Act.
In this deep dive, you will learn about why health monitoring in dangerous workplaces is important, what laws exist to ensure workers are protected, and new developments in health and safety options.
The Importance of Health Monitoring in Hazardous Work Environments
Work environments that present health and safety hazards can create lasting effects on employees who are exposed to hazardous materials on a frequent basis. With health monitoring, including biological monitoring, companies can help mitigate risk to the employees’ health.
Early detection is the key to effectively treating potential problems and preventing them from becoming life-altering. The sooner issues are discovered, the better the outcomes will be.
What is Health Monitoring?
Health monitoring is a practice that employers use to keep tabs on the health of their employees and prevent major health problems from occurring. Workers are checked for levels of chemicals in their system so that risks are minimized and employees are not exposed long enough to cause extreme health problems.
Health monitoring is especially important (and required by law) when working with certain chemicals that pose a risk to the health of a worker.
Regulatory Framework: Health Monitoring Standards for Worker Safety
The law requires that dangerous work sites like mines protect the health and safety of their employees by performing regular health assessments and providing biological monitoring where appropriate.
In order to remain compliant with federal requirements, companies need to make sure they are performing the following:
- Regular risk assessments so you know what to monitor and test for
- Frequent health assessments on employees who are exposed to hazards
- Appropriate biological monitoring on employees who are at higher risk of being exposed to higher-than-acceptable levels of toxins
- Reports of contamination to the Health and Hygiene System when appropriate
Understanding the Risks: Health Challenges in Mines and Worksites
This kind of work comes with serious risks, and it is important to be aware of what those are for yourself and your employees. Here are some of the risks involved in the industry that should be taken into contact to prevent them:
|What can happen?
|Why does it matter?
|Injury from falls and equipment accidents
|Injuries of this nature can have a long-term impact on the body, causing problems with pain and reduced abilities
|Exposure to hazardous chemicals
|Regular exposure to high levels of certain chemicals can have a catastrophic effect on the lungs and other organs. Some chemicals can cause serious diseases such as cancer.
|Body stressing can lead to musculoskeletal disorders and affect the body’s natural abilities. It makes up nearly 40% of workers’ compensation claims in Australia.
Key Components of an Effective Health Monitoring Program
Having a comprehensive health and safety plan in place is the best way to ensure your employees are taken care of. Strategies for implementing and maintaining an effective health monitoring program include:
- Keep the right supplies on hand, like a well-stocked first-aid kit that meets requirements and contains all the essentials for treating various workplace injuries
- Stay up-to-date and provide regular education to employees on government regulations and recommendations
- Utilize biological monitoring to make sure your team members are catching unsafe exposures early
- Implement a risk-based hygiene management plan that covers clean and dirty areas and personal hygiene requirements
Taking these steps will ensure that operations run smoothly while keeping everybody safe.
Implementing Health Monitoring Programs: Challenges and Solutions
Health monitoring programs are a necessary part of the industry but can pose a unique set of challenges.
Since the majority of the burden falls on the employer to implement proper programs, it can be easy for things to fall through the cracks. You can mitigate this by ensuring you have a strong team to support your health monitoring program in its infancy and beyond.
Keeping up with guidelines can be a challenging task as well. It is a good idea to keep a copy of the relevant guides close by so that you can reference them when needed.
Reporting exposures and issues to regulatory bodies can be intimidating. Consult an expert and put a clear plan in place for these reports and you can make the process go as smoothly as possible.
Future Trends in Health Monitoring for Worker Safety
Staying up to date with industry trends will keep you competitive as a business and as an employer.
Here are some trends to consider that could set you apart from your competition:
- Hiring a health professional to stay on-site to complete your assessments and address any immediate concerns of employees on the job site.
- Hosting a class with a guest speaker to address health and safety best practices, regulations, and training procedures
- Implementing a comprehensive, accessible program that your employees can easily understand how to work within
Health monitoring is not optional, and it is important to make it as pain-free as possible for yourself and your employees. Many of the occupational hazards companies face every day are unavoidable. Utilizing a proper health monitoring program will position you and your team for a long, healthy career.