In the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993, medical surveillance is defined as:
A planned programme or periodic medical examination, which may include clinical examinations, biological monitoring or medical tests of employees by an occupational health practitioner
Only an occupational health practitioner who is a Doctor or Nurse with qualifications in occupational medicine can do a medical surveillance programme.
Its purpose is to watch out for early signs of work-related illnesses in employees who are exposed to occupational hazards.
It is not meant to be preventative, and it is not a replacement for a normal medical check-up
Aim of Medical Surveillance
To establish at what point a worker needs to be removed from a certain work environment and at what point a worker can return to that environment:
To show if the companies prevention and control measures are working effectively.
To establish workers health status when they start to work in an environment where they are exposed to particular hazards.
To promote that hazards needs to be controlled more effectively.
Medical surveillance should not be used as a tool to discover hazards. That should happen through hazard identification and risk assessments. Medical surveillance should be to ensure that control and prevention measures are working properly. Medical surveillance should be seen to evaluate the success of the prevention measures implemented and be the basis to consider the implementation of additional measures as required.
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