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Health matters - Annual health monitoring

10 December 2019
health & safety compliance

What is annual health monitoring and why must you build it into your business for your field staff? Health management company NZ Provide answers some common questions.

Annual health monitoring looks at your employees’ health every year to determine if there are changes. Tests are dependent on the risks they may be exposed to.  There may be a variety of checks, such as lung function, vision and hearing.

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Why annual health monitoring?

Annual health monitoring screens for certain occupational-related illnesses, based on the risks you or your employees may be exposed to, in order to minimise any identified risks. Examples could be coordinating lung function and capacity testing in dusty environments, or conducting hearing checks in noisy environments.

Risk of damage is interpreted by change in the yearly results. Looking for change is necessary to evaluate continual exposure to hazards over a year and how this may have caused a reduction in health outcome.

For example, if all or most employees in a specific team had decreased lung capacity results since the previous year, it would be recommended that the organisation investigate the issue further to ensure employee safety. Annual health monitoring is critical in making sure that people go home as healthy as they arrived.

Is it mandatory?

Annual health monitoring is a Health & Safety at Work Act requirement. Where a risk may be eliminated, it must be eliminated. If the risk cannot be eliminated it should be reduced as much as possible.

Annual health monitoring is about risk management, as it lets the employer know how an employee’s health is looking when exposed to an inevitable risk in the work environment. The employer can then consider how they can better accommodate their employees’ health more effectively.

What happens on monitoring day?

Generally speaking, the employer books dates with the health monitoring provider, then confirms with employees what time they will receive their checks. On the booked day(s), nurses come out to the site location to coordinate the checks. Each employee receives a check in a private, quiet room to ensure the privacy of their health information. 

What are the tests?

Employees may receive one or multiple tests, depending on the risks they may be exposed to. Typically, employees receive lung function, hearing and vision tests.

Lung function testing monitors lung function and capacity. The person blows into a machine called a spirometer which analyses lung function and capacity.

Hearing tests aim to check hearing at both high and low frequencies. In this test, the person wears a device that looks like earmuffs, and reports when they can hear the stimulus.

Vision testing monitors eye accuracy and function. In this test, the person looks into a machine, focusing on objects of different sizes, shapes and colours.

Do both the employer and employee receive a copy of the results?

At NZ Provide, we email the employee a copy of the results once all checks have been completed. If the employee doesn’t have an email address, arrangements are made with the employer to return the results another way. All results are returned privately to the employee and your employer may not access them.

What do the results look like?

The nurse who did the examination on the day completes an assessment summary. This contains the results of all measures taken during the health check. If an employee has any concerns, they can take this copy to their GP.

 

Further information about health monitoring and exposure monitoring can be found on the WorkSafe website. WorkSafe have also produced guidance for PCBUs in the form of a fact sheet Health monitoring under the Health and Safety at Work (General Risk and Workplace Management) Regulations 2016 

About the author: NZ Provide is a health management company specialising in Pre-Employment medical assessments, Annual Health Monitoring, Vaccination Management and Health & Wellbeing Programmes. We are adept at managing the health and safety of an organisation's people. We consolidate all aspects of a company's occupational health needs into one, easy, central point of contact and and have a network of expert providers in all locations nationwide. We are able to assist you with making the right decision to manage the health and safety of your people. Please feel free to contact us on 0508 697 768 or email Rachel Doody on doodyr@nzprovide.co.nz

 This blog has been adapted from an article in NZ Plumber magazine, Jun/Jul 2019 issue.

READ NZ PLUMBER ONLINE HERE

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