When you need health monitoring
Under the model WHS laws, your PCBU must monitor your health at certain times. This includes if you:
- use, handle, generate or store hazardous chemicals that could be a risk to your health and there are:
- ways to see if the chemicals have affected your health, or
- ways to see if you have been exposed to the chemicals, but it’s not clear how much you have been exposed to.
- are doing lead risk work, or
- are working with asbestos.
There are specific hazardous chemicals that if you are working with them, may trigger health monitoring. These are provided for you at the end of this guide.
What 'Significant risk to health' means
A significant risk to your health is where you may be harmed by a hazardous chemical. This could be:
- an illness such as a cough or rash
- a disease such as cancer or dermatitis, or
- an injury such as a burn.
Your PCBU may assess this risk to decide if you will need health monitoring. They will look at:
- how poisonous the chemical is
- how you use handle, generate or store the chemicals at work
- what is in place to stop or limit exposure to the chemical
- for example if you aren’t in contact with the chemical because you work separately from it, your workplace is ventilated or you wear personal protective equipment (PPE), and
- how much of the hazardous chemical you might be exposed to.
The risk to your health may be significant if:
- it’s easy for you to be exposed to the chemical because of the way you work
- the chemical is highly toxic or has severe health effects, or
- you are only protected from exposure by the way you work and what you wear, for example PPE.
You can read more about how your PCBU decides on health monitoring in the Health monitoring guide for PCBUs. Your HSR, if your workplace has one, can also give you information about health monitoring.
Who monitors your health
Your health monitoring must be carried out or supervised by a registered medical practitioner (doctor) with experience in health monitoring.
The doctor may supervise other suitably qualified people to do some of your health monitoring tests and procedures. For example, an occupational nurse may ask you general questions about your medical history, check your skin and collect samples of your urine or blood. In some instances, you may be trained to be able to do and report some of your own self-checks.
Your PCBU will consult with you about which doctor will do your health monitoring. This probably won’t be your personal GP unless they are experienced in health monitoring and work with your PCBU on your health monitoring program.
Payment for health monitoring
Your PCBU must pay for all of your health monitoring including:
- appointment fees
- testing and analysis costs, and
- your time and travel costs.
Your PCBU must give you paid time to go to medical appointments and tests.
If you work for more than one PCBU who monitors your health, together they will work out how they pay for your health monitoring.
Being asked about your health monitoring
Your PCBU must check with you about all of your health monitoring including:
- the choice of registered medical practitioner who will carry out or supervise your health monitoring, and
- the results of your health monitoring, for example what the doctor recommends about your work with the hazardous chemicals.
Your PCBU must ask you about changes they want to make to your health monitoring. If you have a HSR, your PCBU must include the HSR in the conversation.
You will find more information about consultation see the Code of Practice: WHS consultation, cooperation and coordination.