Medical surveillance describes activities that target health events or a change in the biologic function of an exposed person or persons. A surveillance programme involves recurrent longitudinal examinations and data analysis over time.
The principal objectives of a medical surveillance programme are:
These objectives of a medical surveillance programme are supported by The Employment Equity Act which expressly forbids medical testing unless the testing is permitted or required by legislation, e.g. the Occupational Health and Safety Act or is justifiable in the light of the inherent requirements of the job.
There are several pieces of legislation which require medical testing for employees to perform certain types of work. The foremost part of the legislation is the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 (OHSA), but it also includes the National Road Traffic Act and the Hazardous Substances Act.
The OHSA provides for the protection of the health and safety of employees and other persons at companies and institutions and requires risk assessment, exposure measurement and risk control. How this act refers to fitness to work is mainly within its regulations, such as the Construction Regulations, Driven Machinery Regulations, Hazardous Chemical Substances Regulations, the Hazardous Biological Agents Regulations, the Lead Regulations, and the Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Regulations.
This statutory fitness to work examinations is driven by:
The inherent requirements of the job are the essential components (core activities, tasks or skills) of the role that, if not met, the job cannot be done. The inherent health requirements of a job are the minimum physiological thresholds of function, or the degrees of tolerance for dysfunction, necessary to meet the identified inherent needs of the job, safely and effectively.
"Inherent health requirements" or minimum medical standards of fitness refer to the capability of the employee to perform the tasks required:
The inherent requirements of the job need to be detailed in the job description for the minimum standards of fitness (inherent health requirements) to be identified.
Dr Haidee Williams will help: