What if a business didn’t understand something completely fundamental?

Per the Health and Safety Executive, businesses in the UK must obey the mandates of the SEQOHS (Safe Effective Quality Occupational Health Service). And that means periodically conducting safety-critical medicals for certain employees.

Unfortunately, many UK business leaders don’t know enough about either occupational health or when safety-critical medicals are required. And this can lead to consequences ranging from legal trouble to loss of life.

Want to create a safer workplace for your employees and keep your own company on track? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about occupational health, safety-critical medicals, and much more!

Occupational Health Defined

goggles must be worn signSafety-critical medicals are required by the HSE for certain employees. But ask yourself: do you understand what “occupational health” really means?

Back in 1950, WHO defined occupational health for the first time. This basic definition emphasized that businesses must promote and maintain the mental, physical, and social health of workers to prevent injuries, death, and other negative outcomes at their place of employment.

And in 1995, the definition tightened to include the need to constantly improve workplace safety. The newer definition also underscored employer responsibility to promote a healthy social culture for both the well-being of employees and the productivity of the company.

All of this seems simple enough in a vacuum. But when it comes to certain jobs, a business cannot meet the demands of occupational health without the use of safety-critical medicals.

What Are Safety Critical Medicals?

We have already touched on the topic of safety-critical medicals several times now. And before we go any further, we need to answer the big question: what, exactly, are these medicals?

These are specialized examinations that are also known as “fit for work” medicals. As that secondary name implies, the purpose of these exams is to make sure that someone is fit to complete their job.

While these medicals are useful for all employees, they are only required for certain professions. And understanding what these professions are can help you keep your own business safe and in full compliance with the Health and Safety Executive.

What Counts As Safety Critical Work?

Not every employee needs to regularly undergo safety critical medicals. Who, then, needs to take these examinations? Simple: any employee whose role is designated as “safety-critical.”

These are the kinds of jobs where, if an employee were to fall ill and be unable to complete their work, it would put the lives of others at risk. Therefore, employers are obligated to regularly have these employees examined to determine that they are healthy and fit enough to carry out their assigned role.

While this is not a complete list, safety-critical medicals are typically required for plant operators, roadside workers, traffic marshalls, and (in some cases) FLT Drivers. Medicals may also be required for anyone who regularly works in confined spaces or has to work at great heights.

Long story short? If someone’s poor health could lead to the sickness, injury, or death of others, they will need to regularly undergo these examinations.

How Long Do Safety Critical Medicals Last?

safety critical medical doctorEvery now and then, managers and workers are on the exact same page. And when it comes to safety-critical medicals, everyone has the same question: “how long is this going to last?”

While there is no “one size fits all” answer for how long the examination will take, most can be completed between 30-45 minutes. And that is due to the relatively simple nature of the exam.

Generally speaking, these exams involve filling out a questionnaire and completing a few non-invasive tests. Usually, a urine sample is taken from the employee as well to rule out the use of recreational drugs.

The exam itself is usually very short, but getting the results back may take a bit longer. That is because they need to be analyzed by an occupational health expert.

The Function Of the Safety Critical Medical Certificate

Another question that workers and managers may both have is “why do we have to have these examinations?” The short answer to that is that the medicals are required by law. The slightly longer answer is that you are trying to get a Safety Critical Medical Certificate for the employee.

This certificate comes from the practitioner who has analysed the employee’s examination. And the certificate will explain what their decision is.

This decision is not always black and white. For example, it may include any restrictions they recommend for the role. But so long as the employee gets the nod from the practitioner, he will be able to continue working at his post.

Benefits of Safety-Critical Medicals

As we noted before, the standard response to “why do we need these medicals” is “it is required by law.” However, you may be interested in knowing that these exams come with some serious benefits for your employees and your company.

For example, safety-critical medicals help employees notice things they may have overlooked. Many don’t realize there are issues with things like their hearing until they complete an examination.

And these examinations can uncover other things that are typically hard to diagnose, including depression. Discovering this not only keeps the workplace safe, but it helps the employee get the help and support they may need.

Finally, these examinations may uncover conditions such as heart problems that turn the employee into a serious risk. Allowing such an employee to seek the medical help they may need helps protect their life and countless other lives from potential catastrophe.

Find the Professionals You Can Trust

Now you know all about how safety-critical medicals fit into occupational health. But do you know who can help you screen your employees quickly and affordably?

Here at K2A, we provide a full range of occupational health services for employers. To discover how we can help provide you with SEQOHS -accredited safety-critical medicals and so much more, all you have to do is contact us today!