“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”
The price of not stopping to understand this simple approach to managing health issues in the workplace costs many organisations millions of Rands annually!
The health profile of employees needs to be carefully considered before organisations embark on a health management programme. The core problems are: the lack of identification of possible risks and; the inability or reluctance to address these risks and the effect it has on employees’ health.
The focus should be on DOING THE RIGHT TESTS ON THE RIGHT STAFF FOR THE RIGHT REASONS.
A Health Risk Assessment (HRA) needs to put in place in order to achieve two very distinct, legally compliant outcomes.
1. To establish the protocol for establishing the health status employees before working in an environment, in order to ensure that the employee does no harm to himself, his colleagues or equipment.
2. To establish the impact of work environment on the health of an employee, on a periodic basis, by monitoring for the effect of hazards identified in the specific work area of each employee.
The most common individual health risks before an employee is even exposed to hazards in the workplace are chronic diseases like uncontrolled diabetes and blood pressure; poor vision; lung diseases like pre-existing asthma and TB; and hearing loss.
The most common occupational health risks are exposure to noise, dust, fumes, vibration, chemicals, heat, sun exposure and working at heights, which result in work induced or Occupational Health diseases (as covered by the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases act, or COID) .
Noise induced hearing loss is the most regulated in South Africa, as it is such a common and debilitating occupational disease. For this reason, legal compliance in pre-employment, periodic and exit screening as well as effective submission of compensation claims is so important. It is legislated that the employer has 30 days in which to establish the hearing level of a new employee, after which the employer is liable for any hearing loss incurred.
The compilation of a suitable and effective occupational health workplace programme would encompass:
1) Comprehensive safety, health, environmental and quality audit is conducted.
2) A hygiene survey is undertaken in order to quantify health risks (when required).
3) Medical staff, in conjunction with the health and safety team, drafts a health risk assessment that identifies medical surveillance requirements, based on the hygiene survey report and a physical site inspection.
4) Medical surveillance as identified is conducted.
5) Follow-up of identified problems is undertaken.
6) Ongoing surveillance and re-assessment of the programme occurs.
It is vital to reach a balance in testing, since over testing is expensive and under testing is risky. The risk assessment needs to be a team effort, spearheaded by the occupational health staff and in conjunction with the health and safety team. The risk assessment is of no value unless a physical site visit is conducted and it is based on the hygiene survey.
Most organisations lack the resources to undertake risk assessments and to implement suitable mitigation measures.
That where we can assist!
HSP Group SA provides a comprehensive occupational health service that includes Health Risk Assessments, medical surveillance, certificate of fitness, hearing and lung function tests, vision screening, chest X-Rays, biological monitoring, primary health and on site clinics, HIV management, acute/chronic treatment, patient education as well as extensive training across a number of modalities.
HSP Group SA has a team of passionate practitioners who are equipped and fully trained to simplify this process and guide your company to simple, basic, compliance.
Setting the Benchmark in Occupational Health!
Written by Mandy Steyn