Pre-employment medicals are important to any workforce, but rarely does their absence pose as much of a risk as it does to the building and construction industry. Construction workers are highly vulnerable to workplace injury and fatality because of the dangerous equipment they work with and the hazardous environments they work in.
3,414 Australian workers died on the job between 2003 to 2016, many of whom were construction workers. According to Work Safe Australia, the construction industry had the third highest number of worker fatalities over a ten-year span, after Transportation and Agriculture.
Visual from Work Safe Australia: Worker fatalities proportion by industry.
Pre-employment medicals provide many benefits to both employees and employers. For the construction industry, keeping your workforce safe and healthy is of paramount importance. Continue reading to learn more about pre-employment medicals—as well as how health checks, hearing assessments, and drug and alcohol screenings—can mitigate workplace risks.
What is a Pre-Employment Medical?
Pre-employment medicals manage workplace risk by ensuring employees can meet the demands of a specific job role. They are especially useful in roles that are typically regarded as high risk, whether this be because of physical, environmental or situational factors.
The series of medical assessments that make up a pre-employment medical are crucial to maintaining the safety and wellness of a workforce. They measure the physical and mental 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 the new employee in the years to come.
Arranged and paid for by the employer, the assessment mitigates future health and safety risks, safeguarding the long-term overall health of the company.
What’s included in a pre-employment medical varies based on the industry and the specific demands of the job.
A pre-employment medical may include:
- Drug and alcohol screenings
- Hearing tests
- Vision tests
- Driving assessments
- General fitness tests
Workforce Health Assessors (WHA) offers comprehensive pre-employment medical assessments using a proprietary software program that manages the entire medical from booking to processing to delivering your results. Learn more about our pre-employment medical services available at our facilities across Australia and New Zealand, or on-site for your convenience.
Building and Construction Pre-Employment Medical Assessments
Physical and Mental Fitness
The health of your workers has a direct impact on the health of your business. Whatever the industry, the health and safety of your workforce should be a top priority beginning with the hiring process. Pre-employment medical assessments ensure prospective employees are fit for their role both physically and mentally, and therefore will be able to undertake tasks required as part of the role.
Medical assessments are life-saving, given the higher risk of workplace injury and death in the building and construction industry. Construction workers are put to the limits of their physical abilities on a daily basis. They put in day after day of hard work while operating specialised tools, dangerous machinery, and large motorized vehicles that can harm themselves or those around them.
When on the job, construction workers must be able to:
- Stay focused
- Handle stress
- Pay attention to details
- Remain calm under pressure
- Work well with others
Pre-employment medicals test for general fitness, current health risks, future health risks, as well as mental fitness. Quality of work and the safety of others will be put at risk if an employee isn’t properly assessed for the physical and mental requirements of the job. Protect your entire workforce and your community by ensuring anyone who works for you is fit for the job.
A hearing assessment determines if a prospective employee’s hearing meets safety standards by testing for hearing loss across a broad spectrum of frequencies. They also establish the baseline hearing of a candidate pre-employment. Performing assessments successively means results can be compared with previous years so any changes that occur in an employee’s hearing over time can be tracked and measured.
In The Extent And Causes Of Hearing Impairment In Australia, the Parliament of Australia states: “The most common causes of hearing loss are aging and excessive exposure to loud sounds. The effects of age and noise exposure are additive so that noise exposure may cause hearing loss in middle age that would not otherwise occur until old age.”
Construction is a noisy business, which means employees are at a greater risk of hearing loss than other industries. One of the loudest tools used in the construction industry is a drill hammer, which registers at 120 dB. That sound is comparable to a thunderclap, which also registers at 120dB. Extended or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss (approximately the level of a car wash, blender, or vacuum cleaner.)
The extremely loud tools, often many of them used at the same time, make being a construction worker one of the loudest jobs you can land.
Since building and construction workers are at such a high risk of hearing loss, it is crucial for employers to ascertain a baseline of hearing upon employment. Hearing assessments ensure a worker’s hearing is up to the standards of the job and help employers monitor audiometric health throughout employment.
WHA offers comprehensive and professional testing using the latest audiometric testing technology. Learn more about our hearing assessment services available at our facilities across Australia and New Zealand, or on-site for your convenience.
Drug and Alcohol Screening
If a prospective or current employee has a dependence on alcohol or recreational drugs, it can present a real hazard in the workplace—particularly for the construction industry. A reliable drug and alcohol screening program safeguards the long-term health and wellness of your business by ensuring all employees are fit for work.
Drug and alcohol screenings may include instant screening, instant machine screening, and laboratory screening, which test for illicit drugs such as:
Construction workers are required to operate a wide variety of potentially hazardous machinery. Some workers are also required to operate larger machines and vehicles on a job site including cranes, bulldozers, excavators, and backhoes.
All of the dangerous equipment required for the job puts construction workers at a higher risk of injury and death. It is crucial that workers keep their focus when on the job for the safety of themselves and those around them, whether that be colleagues or the general public. Screening for drugs and alcohol in the construction industry helps ensure an employee is healthy and attentive when operating dangerous machinery.
WHA offers a number of drug and alcohol screening services at our facilities across Australia and New Zealand, or on-site for your convenience.
Additional Employer Benefits
Employers stand to gain quite a bit with pre-employment medicals. In addition to reducing health and safety risks, pre-employment medicals increase general wellbeing and illustrate to your employees and the public that you care about your workforce.
Pre-employment medical assessments:
- Help you find the right candidate
- Increase team morale and loyalty
- Minimise long-term absenteeism from illness
- Help you meet health and safety targets
- Improve corporate image
- Attract top talent
- Save businesses money long-term
💡 Learn more about The Importance of Pre-Employment Medicals and Employer Benefits.
Ongoing Employee Health Checks
Ongoing employee health checks are just as important as pre-employment medicals. In the building and construction industry, and any industry where the risk of injury is high, it’s especially important for employers to stay on top of their employee’s health all year-round.
Pre-employment medicals prevent health and safety risks at the beginning of employment, but they are only the first step. An employee health check accounts for a range of check-ups that help identify new risks to the health and wellbeing of your workforce. Scheduling routine employee health checks guarantee your workforce is safe and healthy for the duration of their employment and beyond.
Providing ongoing on-site health checks:
- Improves the wellness of a workforce
- Illustrates a business’ investment in employees
- Reduces workplace-related injuries
- Reduces employee downtime from illness or injury
- Reduces workers’ compensation claims
- Reduces insurance costs
- Supports an aging workforce
- Helps businesses retain valuable talent
Work injuries and disease cost the Australian economy $61.8 billion each year. An investment in employee health is an investment in your workforce, business, and your community.
💡 Learn more by reading The Importance of Employee Health Checks.
Continue Supporting Your Workforce
71% of workers in Australia and New Zealand are not engaged at work. Learn how you can boost productivity and Increase Motivation in the Workplace.
Pre-employment medicals are one aspect of creating a safe and healthy workforce. Read our Top 10 Ways to Create a Safe and Healthy Workforce, which includes tips on work balance and flexibility, mental health awareness, and mandatory vacation.
Workforce Health Assessors offers comprehensive pre-employment, 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.