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Health monitoring

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:

  • Acrylonitrile
  • Arsenic (inorganic)
  • Asbestos
  • Benzene
  • Cadmium
  • Chromium (inorganic)
  • Creosote
  • Crystalline silica
  • Isocyanates
  • Lead (inorganic)
  • Mercury (inorganic)
  • 4,4'-Methylene bis(2-chloroaniline) (MOCA)
  • Organophosphate pesticides
  • Pentachlorophenol (PCP)
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)
  • Thallium
  • 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

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.

Medical practitioners

Registered medical practitioners carrying out or supervising a health monitoring program for workers should refer to:

Workers

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
  • X-rays.

Safe Work Australia's Health Monitoring for Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals - Guide for workers provides further information.

Health monitoring reports

Health monitoring reports must include:

  • the name and date of birth of the worker
  • the name and registration number of the registered medical practitioner
  • name and address of the PCBU who commissioned the health monitoring
  • the date of the health monitoring
  • if a blood sample is taken - the date the blood sample is taken
  • the test results of biological monitoring that indicate blood lead levels in the worker's body
  • the name of the pathology service used to carry out tests
  • any test results that indicate the worker has reached or exceeded the relevant blood lead level for that worker
  • any advice that test results indicate the worker may have contracted a disease, injury or illness as a result of carrying out the work that triggered the requirement for health monitoring
  • any recommendation that the PCBU take remedial measures, including whether the worker can continue to carry out the type of work that triggered the requirement for health monitoring
  • whether medical counselling is required for the worker in relation to the work that triggered the requirement for health monitoring.

Health monitoring reports should only contain information relating to the health monitoring program for the chemical(s) being used. They should not contain other confidential health information on workers or details of medical conditions that have no relevance or bearing on the work being performed. Details of pre-existing medical conditions can only be included in reports with written permission.

Notification to SafeWork SA

PCBUs must provide a copy of the health monitoring report (WHS Regulation 376, 413 and 442) to SafeWork SA if:

  • test results indicate that a worker may have contracted a disease, injury or illness as a result of carrying out work that triggered the requirements for health monitoring, or
  • it recommends that the PCBU take remedial measures including whether the worker can continue to carry out work that triggered the requirement for health monitoring.

Submit a copy of the report via post or email to:

SafeWork SA Response Team
GPO Box 465
Adelaide  SA 5001

Email Health Monitoring Report