An Ultimate Guide to Occupational Health Screening
Employees are the most important asset in any company. In order to ensure that the workforce is kept functioning at its optimal level, companies may request occupational health screening checks to be done. When employees are healthy and feel valued, it benefits them as well as the company to which they are employed. The company further benefits from a workforce which will be highly productive and efficient. There will also be a reduction in the number of cases of absenteeism as well as sickness.
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Occupational health screening is multifaceted in its purpose.
· It can be used to determine the overall health of an employee
· It can reveal an employee’s level of fitness to carry out their job-related functions.
· It can be used to assess whether the work environment or conditions have posed any risks to the employee’s health.
Occupational health screening, while conducted by trained and certified medical practitioners, generally does not have diagnosis and treatment as its aim. It seeks to provide an expert medical opinion, on the basis of which recommendations or suggestions can then be made, so that further treatment can be sought. These screening tests are generally very simple and have high levels of sensitivity for accurate results.
When are Employees Subjected to Occupational Health Screenings?
An employee could be subjected to occupational health screenings at multiple stages of the employment relationship. It could be done prior to job assignment (pre-employment baseline screening), at periodic intervals throughout employment, after return to work from a prolonged leave of absence due to health reasons, and even when an employee decides to leave a particular job (exit screening).
The pre-employment baseline screening is performed to assess physical and medical suitability for a role, and determine if a pre-existing condition makes an individual susceptible to the health risks accompanying the job or aggravate 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). For those employees who are frequently exposed to high-noise work environments, KUDUwave™ has developed products and solutions to make occupational health screening easier. In the area of hearing screening and diagnosis, KUDUwave™ has developed tools/devices that have made remote screening and diagnosis of hearing loss a possibility.
An employee is also required to undergo occupational health screening when he/she returns to work from a prolonged absence owing to matters related to health. 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 Occupational Health 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 Occupational Health Screening Differs for Various Industries?
Various industries will screen for different parameters based on the nature of the job, the working conditions or the requirements of the company. 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 Occupational Health 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 armed with the knowledge to better address these issues, and 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 of high importance because companies save 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 auditory screening is required, companies have benefited 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 in the case of some tests, thus eliminating the need to wait for extended periods of time for results to address areas of concern.
How Employees Benefit From Occupational Health 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 Occupational Health 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.
Health Checks Before Employment
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 Testing May be Performed at an Occupational Health Screening?
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 by means of products such as those offered by KUDUwave™, to determine hearing levels. 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.