The health monitoring process
Once you determine that you need to provide health monitoring for your workers, you must:
- consult with your workers
- engage a health monitoring doctor
- organise and pay for health monitoring appointments
- get a health monitoring report for each worker, and
- keep records.
You should also action any recommendations made by a health monitoring doctor in their report as part of your duty to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that your workers are given the highest level of protection against harm to their health. You must action a recommendation to remove a worker from lead risk work.
You can use the Health monitoring for PCBU's checklist to help you with the health monitoring process.
Consulting your workers
Participation of your workers in discussions about health and safety is important, as they are most likely to know about the risks of their work.
You must tell workers before they are hired, or before they start work about any health monitoring. For lead risk work and any asbestos work, you must tell workers why they need health monitoring and what it will be.
You should give the Health monitoring guide for workers to your workers who need health monitoring, so they have general information about their health monitoring.
You must consult workers about the health monitoring doctor you choose to supervise or perform the health monitoring. Genuine consultation involves you talking with your workers about this before you engage the health monitoring doctor.
- You should inform workers about:
- what is expected in their health monitoring program
- for example, the types and frequency of tests
- when they should see the health monitoring doctor
- how a health monitoring doctor is chosen and their qualifications
- who pays for the health monitoring
- if and how monitoring results may affect their work
- for example, explaining where they may be moved to other tasks, and
- how you keep their health monitoring records and who they may be disclosed to and under what circumstances.
Sometimes, the health monitoring doctor will also give your worker information about:
- possible health effects from exposure
- what health monitoring aims to achieve and its benefits, and
- how and who to report symptoms to.
You should tell workers that you will keep their health monitoring results confidential and carefully stored, and that you will only share them with your worker’s written consent, or when required by the model WHS laws, or other laws, with:
- the regulator
- the business or undertaking they work for
- other PCBUs who have a duty to provide health monitoring for your worker, or
- another health monitoring doctor.
There are other things you must consult your workers about at the workplace. Please read the model Code of Practice: WHS consultation, cooperation and coordination for more information about consultation.
If a worker doesn’t want health monitoring
As a PCBU, it is your primary duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health of your workers. You also have a duty to monitor their health and your workplace conditions to prevent injury, illness and disease.
Workers also have a duty to comply with any reasonable instruction given by you to enable you to comply with WHS laws, including participating in health monitoring and wearing PPE when working with certain chemicals.
You should encourage your workers to talk to you about concerns they have with their health monitoring program. You can also refer them to your health monitoring doctor to talk about the clinical aspects of health monitoring, or to their HSR, if your workplace has one, or their personal General Practitioner (GP).
If your worker still doesn’t want to do health monitoring, you must comply with your duties under the WHS laws, which may include stopping them working with the hazardous chemical.
Engaging a registered medical practitioner
You must use a registered medical practitioner with experience in health monitoring (a health monitoring doctor) to carry out or supervise health monitoring. You will find information about ‘experience in health monitoring’ in the Health monitoring guide for medical practitioners.
You can choose who you like as your health monitoring doctor, provided you have genuinely consulted your workers regarding this choice and the doctor is experienced in health monitoring. Your health monitoring doctor could be employed by a company, in a medical practice, in a specialist occupational health organisation or they may provide specialist services and testing like respiratory screening and chest X-rays.
The health monitoring doctor should prepare a health monitoring program and either carry it out themselves or supervise other suitably qualified people, like an occupational health nurse, to deliver the program. The health monitoring doctor has overall responsibility for the health monitoring program.
The health monitoring doctor may visit the workplace to better understand your control measures, work processes and exposure scenarios. They may also seek advice from you as the PCBU, other professionals like an occupational physician, or other work health and safety professionals.
Information you must give to the health monitoring doctor
As the PCBU, you must provide your health monitoring doctor with the following information:
About the business and your worker
- name and address of your business or undertaking, and
- the name and date of birth of your worker.
About the work
- the work that your worker is, or will be, carrying out that has made you to seek health monitoring, and
- if your worker has already started, how long they have been carrying out the work.
You should provide extra information to your health monitoring doctor including:
- relevant risk assessment reports, details of workplace exposure standards and results of workplace air monitoring
- a list of the hazardous chemicals your worker is or will be exposed to and the dates your worker last used the chemicals, and
- the SDS for the chemical(s).
It is important to provide this information to the health monitoring doctor so they can design an effective health monitoring program for your worker. This information will help the health monitoring doctor to understand the situations and potential exposure levels that a worker could be exposed to. If you provide information about other hazardous chemicals your worker may be exposed to, the health monitoring doctor may be able to identify other or more severe effects. You should include information about likely workplace exposures in your risk assessment reports including control measures to reduce exposure and your investigations where workplace exposure standards have been reached or exceeded.
Health monitoring report templates are provided in the individual Health monitoring guides for hazardous chemicals. These may help you to prepare information for the health monitoring doctor. However the health monitoring doctor does not have to use them and they may have their own preferred forms. You should discuss what information is included in a health monitoring report with your health monitoring doctor to ensure you meet your duties.