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If you are a worker who works with hazardous chemicals, this guide is for you. It explains what you and your person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must do to monitor your health and keep you as safe as possible. Everything in this guide is covered by the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws.

How to use this guide

This guide will help you to understand and make decisions about the health monitoring your PCBU is legally required to give you.

As a worker, you don’t have health monitoring duties under the WHS laws. In this guide we describe what duty holders, like PCBUs, must do to provide health monitoring under the WHS laws.

We use ‘must’, ‘requires’ or ‘mandatory’ where duty holders are legally required to comply with a requirement. We use ‘should’ to recommend an action and ‘may’ where they can choose to do as we recommend.

Other guides for PCBUs and doctors include:

  • Health monitoring guide for persons conducting a business or undertaking
  • Health monitoring guide for registered medical practitioners, and
  • Health monitoring guides for hazardous chemicals.

What the WHS Regulations say about health monitoring

At times, a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), is required to monitor the health of their workers.

For example, PCBUs must monitor your health if you are working with certain hazardous chemicals including lead and asbestos.

The PCBU must decide if you need health monitoring. They will make a decision to monitor your health if there is a risk you will be exposed to a hazardous chemical. If you work with lead or asbestos, then there is no choice and they must monitor your health.

How your health is monitored will depend on the hazardous chemicals you work with. A registered medical practitioner (doctor) with experience in health monitoring will carry out or supervise your health monitoring program.

What health monitoring is

Health monitoring is designed to help protect your health. It is aimed at detecting changes in your health because of the hazardous chemicals you work with.

Health monitoring will measure the level of these chemicals in your body or how your body responds to exposure to these chemicals and can measure changes in your health.

Your health monitoring may include:

  • talking with a doctor with experience in health monitoring, about the type of health tests and how often you will need to have them
  • questions and counselling about your work history, medical history or lifestyle, for example diet, smoking and drinking habits
    • some of these things may change how your body responds to a hazardous chemical
    • if this matters in your job, the doctor may ask you questions and talk with you about how your work and what you eat, drink and smoke could affect your health
  • a physical check including looking at your skin, and
  • tests of your urine, blood or lungs or X-rays.

All these things may make up your health monitoring program. Your program will depend on which hazardous chemicals you have been, or will be working with. Sometimes you will have a one-off health monitoring check if you are around a spill or leak of a hazardous chemical.

Do I have to do health monitoring?

Health monitoring will show if a workplace hazardous chemical has harmed or may harm you. It is there to help keep you safe.

You must:

  • follow, as far as you can, any work health and safety instructions from your PCBU, and
  • follow any policy or procedure including health monitoring, if you have been told about it beforehand.

Some hazardous chemicals can cause serious illness and disease. You must participate in health monitoring and wear personal protective equipment (PPE) as instructed by a PCBU.

Your PCBU must check with you about health monitoring procedures and you can talk about what the type of tests you would prefer in your health monitoring program. Your PCBU must listen and think about what you say.

However, your PCBU must decide if you need health monitoring for your job. They must do this under the WHS laws.

If you are still worried about your health monitoring you can talk to your HSR, your personal GP or find more information in the Guide for PCBUs, Guide for registered medical practitioners and in the individual hazardous chemical information.

As a worker you have the right to privacy. If you decide not to participate in health monitoring or not to use PPE as you have been trained and instructed, your PCBU may take action to meet their duties under the WHS laws. This could mean your PCBU may remove you from the source of exposure to make sure your health is not at risk.

Further information

You will find further information on health monitoring requirements including information on individual scheduled chemicals, on the Safe Work Australia website:

  • Health monitoring guide for persons conducting a business or undertaking
  • Health monitoring guide for registered medical practitioners, and
  • Health monitoring guides for hazardous chemicals.

There are special considerations and health monitoring requirements for lead and asbestos.

You may also find further information from your WHS authority, your HSR or your personal GP.

This site is undergoing constant refinement. If you have noticed something that needs attention or have ideas for the site please let us know.

Last modified on Friday 14 February 2020 [10997|93495]