Pre-employment medicals are important to any workforce, but due to the high risk of injury, they play a significant role in the aged care industry. Elderly care workers are especially vulnerable to workplace injury because they spend each day working with people who are losing their physical and mental capabilities.
A 2012 census of the Australian aged care industry found that 76% (24% reported none) of facilities reported a workplace injury sometime in the previous 3 months. The most commonly reported work-related injuries and illnesses were sprains/strains at 51% of all facilities, superficial injuries at 33% of all facilities, chronic joint or muscle conditions at 21% of all facilities, and cut/open wounds at 18% of all facilities.
Source: The Aged Care Workforce 2012 Final Report
Working in aged care is a surprisingly dangerous occupation due to the extreme physical and mental demands of the job.
Pre-employment medicals are a win-win for employees and employers. In the aged care industry, keeping your workforce safe and healthy is vitally important for your workers and those they care for. Continue reading to learn more about pre-employment medicals, the aged care industry, and how employee health assessments can mitigate workplace risk.
The Aged Care Industry
Aged care is the living and nursing care services for older Australians who need extra help to stay in their homes, or cannot live independently. It is a rapidly growing industry in Australia. As of 2017, 1 in 7 Australians are aged 65 or older, and that growth isn’t slowing down. With so many elderly Australians requiring special care, and Australian nursing homes almost at capacity, the need for aged care workers is expanding.
Aged care provides its share of challenges for workers, as it has one of the highest injury rates among Australian industries. Workers need to do a lot of lifting during their day to day routines. Whether that is assisting the elderly with their mobility, or bathing them, there is a great deal of risk that a patient will fall, pinning the worker to the ground or wall. Uncontrolled human weight is considerable. Workers can strain their backs, pull muscles, and even break bones in some instances.
With the risk of injury so high, pre-employment medicals are critical for aged care employees.
What is a Pre-employment Medical?
Pre-employment medicals manage workplace risk by ensuring employees can meet the physical demands of a job.
Pre-employment medicals are crucial to maintaining the safety and wellness of a workforce. They measure the suitability of any given candidate for a prospective position so that employers can find the right fit for their company. They also help businesses learn how they can best accommodate new employees in the years to come.
Pre-employment medicals include a range of tests based on the industry and specific demands of the job. They can include drug and alcohol screening, hearing and vision tests, as well as driving assessments, and general fitness tests. The assessment, arranged and paid for by the employer, mitigates future health and safety risks, and safeguards the long-term overall health of the company.
WHA offers comprehensive pre-employment medical assessments available at our facilities across Australia and New Zealand, or on-site for your convenience. Learn more about our pre-employment medical services.
Elderly Pre-employment Medical Assessments
Pre-employment medical assessments ensure workers are physically prepared for the job, identifying current and future health risks. In the aged care industry, it is crucial that workers are up to the physical demands of the position in order to prevent workplace injuries.
The top causes of reported work-related injuries and illnesses are:
- Lifting, pushing, pulling, bending
- Repetitive movement
- Hitting, being hit or cut by a person, object, or vehicle
Employees must meet these high demands so they can keep themselves, their co-workers, and those they care for safe. A pre-employment medical assessment will ensure the right matched candidate gets the job and that no worker is left feeling out of their depth when working with those who need special care.
Pre-employment medicals help ensure workers are mentally prepared for a job in aged care before they begin employment. Working with the elderly is strenuous work that requires mental alertness at all times.
Aged care can provide unique emotional and mental challenges for workers. According to Australian Ageing Agenda, “working with residents and families who are responding to loss and grief can be one of the most challenging times for an aged care worker.”
Mental stress and strain in the aged care industry is caused by:
- Grief from continuous loss of those in employee care
- Managing the needs of families
- Inter workplace conflict
- Physical and verbal abuse from those who are aging
Exposure to mental stress can contribute to workplace injury and illness. When a worker is mentally strained and fatigued, they are more likely to make a mistake or become prone to injury. A pre-employment medical assessment ensures a candidate is both physically and mentally up to the high demands of a job in the aged care industry.
Set a Baseline of Health
Pre-employment medicals establish a baseline of physical and mental health before an employee is hired. This helps determine the root cause of any ailment that occurs throughout their employment. By setting a baseline of health, you know for a fact if an injury or illness affecting an employee is related to the job, or not.
The same is true of exit medical assessments. By acquiring health data and setting a baseline at the commencement of employment and at the end, you protect yourself from future insurance claims and any possible misunderstandings. The medical assessment also gives employees a better understanding of their current health and any potential health risks they should monitor.
The Aged Care Industry is Aging
13% of working Australians are over the age of 65, which means they are at a higher risk of health problems, including adult onset diabetes, lung disease, cataracts, osteoporosis, and dementia. As employees age, they are more at risk of workplace injury due to these conditions.
Another major threat to Australia’s aging population is heart disease. Heart disease is Australia’s most lethal killer. By the Heart Foundation’s calculations, 51 lives are lost to heart disease every day. That’s one Australian every 28 minutes. One fifth of Australians aged 45-74 years is at high risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years.
With an industry as physically and mentally demanding as aged care, an employee’s heart health should be checked on regularly. Not doing so puts your employees as well as the elderly in their care at great risk of injury.
Ongoing Employee Health Checks
Make the most of your pre-employment medicals by conducting regular employee health checks. Ongoing health checks ensure your team is safe and healthy after their pre-employment medical and throughout their employment.
Health checks account for a range of check-ups that can identify any new health risks that appear during a candidate’s employment. They also support an aging workforce by spotting the effects of aging and assisting employees in monitoring their own changing health.
Providing ongoing on-site health checks:
- Supports an aging workforce
- Supports mental strain and illness
- Shows investment in employees
- Helps recruit top talent
- Helps retain talent
- Reduces employee downtime from illness or injury
- Reduces workers’ compensation claims and insurance costs
💡 Learn more by reading The Importance of Employee Health Checks.
Continue Supporting Your Workforce
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Workforce Health Assessors offers comprehensive pre-employment medical, pre-placement, and periodic medical assessments tailored to the needs of your business. We organise, perform, and report on all health assessments and medicals to help you determine the suitability of candidates for your business and mitigate risks in the workplace. Our tests are carefully designed and vary depending on the specifications of the role a candidate will fill. Learn more about our pre-employment medical and other health assessment services.