What is a Routine Medical Examination?
A routine medical examination is an important part of your company’s risk management and compliance. After you do your baseline medical on all new employees or sites, you need to make sure that there are no changes in the employee’s health over time. A Routine medical should be done yearly to keep track of an employee’s health. A routine medical will be compared to your baseline and any previous routine medicals. This will give you some data to compare. If there are major changes in an employee’s health, a referral can be made for further investigation.
Remember! As with all other medicals, it must always be signed off by a qualified Occupational Health Practitioner.
Practical Example of a Routine Medical Examination
Firstly, let’s say you start working at a site and you begin with a baseline medical. The job continues for more than a year and you conduct routine medicals every year. During the routine medical, it might be determined that an employee has lost a significant amount of weight since the start of the project. The OHS practitioner will try and determine the cause of the weight loss. If the employee did not make any lifestyle changes or intended to lose weight, it could be a sign of serious underlying illness.
Secondly, the OHS practitioner will give the employee a referral letter to visit a clinic. Here further investigation and testing can be done to determine the cause of the weight loss. This can be directly, or indirectly related to the site where the employee performs their duties. If this is the case, drastic measures will have to be put in place to prevent or manage exposure. In some cases, the illness can be completely unrelated to the worker’s working environment but could mean they are not fit for their position anymore due to health constraints. A routine medical will help to make sure that you maintain a healthy workforce and prevent loss as a result of future claims against the company.
Lastly, if you have your routine medicals in place, you can protect the company from future claims. If an employee becomes sick later in life, they can blame the company for their health conditions that may have been caused over time. If you cannot prove that you took reasonable action to prevent health issues, the company may be held liable for the employee’s health. This can potentially be an expensive mistake to make. Remember, something like hearing loss can happen over many years of exposure. You need to have early detection to ensure you take reasonable action.
At the very least, you need to do it yearly. However, nothing stops a company from doing it more regularly. If you work in hazardous or high-exposure areas, we always suggest that you do routine medicals more often. We have clients that do routine medicals every 6 months. This is a great way to ensure early detection. It also shows that the company has done its best to ensure employees remain healthy over time.
We have a mobile medical surveillance vehicle that can visit your site or premises. We always do our best to come to you. We also have a physical facility in Krugersdorp, Johannesburg. In most cases, the mobile medical unit will be the most effective way to get your employees tested. We can do routine and other medicals on site.
It usually takes just a few minutes for the physical examination. In most cases, it takes us longer to line up employees than it takes to conduct the actual medicals. If we visit your site with our mobile clinic, we always ask that you manage and get your staff in line. This will save us a lot of time and make sure we do not keep your employees from working for too long. In short, it only takes a few minutes, however, if we need to look for your employees on-site, it can take significantly longer.
Remember, in South Africa, in terms of Common Law it is an employer’s duty to look after the health & safety of its employees. Even though it’s not written law, it is recognized by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 108 of 1996.
In many cases, companies are not even aware of the hazards and exposures imposed on staff. For example, a security guard may be exposed to the same exposures as a person working inside the factory. Some hazards and exposures are also not visible to the naked eye. For example, if that same security guard is standing next to a spray booth, he might be inhaling the same fumes as the booth operator, just a lower quantity.
Remember, the company can be liable if a driver is not medically fit to operate a vehicle. It’s easy to assume this will only be for drivers who are assigned to the duty, but what about sales reps? You need to make sure that all drivers and operators are medically fit both physically and psychologically. You need to make sure that your drivers have good eyesight, do not suffer from an illness that could cause them to lose consciousness, etc. It’s always best to make sure that you routinely check all your staff. It’s not a particularly expensive preventative measure.