Health monitoring is required under work health and safety laws where there is significant risk of workers developing an occupational disease due to exposure to the following hazardous chemicals:
- Arsenic (inorganic)
- Chromium (inorganic)
- Crystalline silica
- Lead (inorganic)
- Mercury (inorganic)
- 4,4'-Methylene bis(2-chloroaniline) (MOCA)
- Organophosphate pesticides
- Pentachlorophenol (PCP)
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)
- Vinyl chloride.
Chapter 7 - Hazardous Chemicals of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 (SA) (the Regulations) sets out specific requirements for health monitoring in Part 1 - Hazardous Chemicals (Regulations 368-378) and Part 2 - Lead (Regulations 405-418).
Schedule 14 of the Regulations details some of the health monitoring requirements for some of the substances in more common industrial use.
Health monitoring must also be provided:
- if workers are using, handling, generating or storing hazardous chemicals and there is a significant risk to their health, and a valid way of determining exposure is available
- before workers carry out licensed asbestos removal work (Regulation 435)
- if workers are carrying out licensed or other ongoing asbestos removal work or asbestos-related work at a workplace and are at risk of exposure to asbestos when carrying out the work (Regulation 435)
- before workers start and one month after they start lead risk work (Regulation 405), or
- as ongoing biological monitoring (blood lead testing) for workers carrying out lead risk work (Regulation 407).
PCBUS must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health of workers is monitored to prevent illness or injury and a specific duty to provide health monitoring to workers who use hazardous chemicals and asbestos, with additional health monitoring requirements for workers who are exposed to lead.
Safe Work Australia's Health Monitoring for Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals - Guide for persons conducting a business or undertaking provides further information for PCBUs who are required to provide health monitoring for workers.
Health monitoring must be carried out by a registered medical practitioner with experience in health monitoring who is adequately trained in the appropriate medical examinations and tests for the chemical in question, in order to supervise and/or carry out the monitoring.
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians maintains a list of medical practitioners who provide occupational health monitoring for workers who may have been exposed to hazardous chemicals at their workplace.
Registered medical practitioners carrying out or supervising a health monitoring program for workers should refer to:
Health monitoring in the workplace is a means of identifying changes in your health status due to exposure to certain substances as part of your work. Monitoring may include:
- consultation e.g. questions regarding your previous work and medical history or lifestyle (dietary, smoking and drinking habits), and discussing how this may affect your health
- physical examinations e.g. skin checks or a spirometry (lung function) test
- clinical tests e.g. urine or blood samples
Safe Work Australia's Health Monitoring for Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals - Guide for workers provides further information.