In terms of various Regulations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, i.e. Hazardous Chemical Substances Regulations (Reg. 7 (1)) Lead Regulations (Reg. 8), Asbestos Regulations (Reg. 9) and Noise Induced Hearing Loss Regulations (Reg. 8), medicals must be performed on employees who are or may be exposed to any of the Table 3 Substances (chemicals), lead, asbestos and to noise above 85 dB.

The type of medical will depend on the stress factor (what type of exposure) as well as the level of exposure. They may include blood and / or urine samples as well as the normal primary type medical checks (e.g. blood pressure, sugar, lung function etc.). The frequency of these medicals depends on the level of exposure (e.g. 85 – 105 dB, audiometric tests to be carried out once a year while exposure to > 105 dB, it is every 6 month).

The different stresses have different guidelines. The Lead Regulations has different tests that need to be done at different intervals depending on the level and consistency of the air monitoring.

Included in these medicals is also the pre-employment medical. Many companies tend to forget about them and they do not have a base from which to evaluate the employee. He / she may also come into the company with a condition that is not suitable for the environment he /she has to work in. Any offer of employment must be made subject to a successful medical. The medical must be relevant to the job that needs to be performed.

Exit medicals are not mentioned in the Regulations, yet they are as important as the pre-medical. The company needs to have proof that the employee was still healthy when he / she left the employment, as this may haunt a company at a later stage. People tell me it is difficult to institute. When the person leaves (for whatever reason) his / her pension / leave or other moneys will not be paid out until the person has been subjected to an exit medical.

Medicals are of the utmost importance. They are a means of detecting potential problems early while corrective action can be taken before it is too late. Different people react differently to the various chemicals. Although you may be well within the legal limits in respect of air contamination (OEL), you may find an employee’s system picking up the chemical as a sponge. Some chemicals enter the body easily but take years (decades) to leave the body (e.g. heavy metals).

For more information on the various medicals we recommend you contact Yolandi Zammit of African Sky Health Services cc, cell no. 083 379 6665 or e-mail: landi@afsky.co.za

Written by Frans Wilbrink of Wilbrink & Associates, tel. 031 – 266 9035