Pre-employment medicals contribute to a safe and healthy workforce. In an industry as high-risk as mining, pre-employment medicals and ongoing medical assessments can prevent injuries and fatalities.
Continue reading to learn more about pre-employment medicals as well as how physical and mental fitness tests, hearing assessments, and drug and alcohol screenings can mitigate the risks associated with mining.
According to Work Safe Australia, the mining industry ranks 6th highest in the country for work-related fatalities over a 10-year average.
Visual from Work Safe Australia: Worker fatalities proportion by industry.
Pre-Employment Medicals by Industry
💡 The transportation industry has the highest number of worker fatalities in Australia. Learn more about the importance of Pre-Employment Medicals for the Transportation Industry.
💡 The construction industry has the third-highest number of worker fatalities in Australia. Learn more about Pre-Employment Medicals for the Building and Construction Industry.
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 support the continued health and safety of the workforce. A pre-employment medical also grants the employer a deeper insight into how they can provide the most comfortable environment possible for their newly hired employees, from their hiring through to the end of their employment.
Pre-employment medicals are arranged and paid for by the employer before a candidate is hired. The health assessments are an investment in the future. They prevent and mitigate risks to the health and safety of a company’s employees as well as the company’s future financial wellbeing.
Pre-employment medicals can encompass a wide range of different medical tests depending on what role the employee will fill, the industry, as well as the physical demands of the job. The range of tests may include:
- Drug and alcohol screening
- Driving assessments
- Vision tests
- Hearing tests
- General fitness tests
Setting a Baseline of Health
Pre-employment medicals set a baseline of health for both the employee and the employer. It’s important that both parties have a thorough understanding of an employee’s health when they begin working for a company. This is especially important for jobs at a higher risk of illness or injury.
For example, miners are at risk of breathing in respirable crystalline silica or construction dust. Dust particles can penetrate deep into the lung tissue. If inhaled regularly, silica dust can result in the development of many lethal diseases. It is critical for employers to set a baseline of health upon hiring so that employee health can be monitored for any signs of health risks due to silica dust.
💡 Learn more about the Health Risks of Respirable Crystalline Silica (Construction Dust) and Preventative Measures.
Once a baseline of health is set, whether it be for hearing, vision, etc., the employee and employer can monitor the employee’s health to ensure no changes occur due to their work environments. It’s to the benefit of everyone to have this information available so that together employers and employees can spot any health deterioration to determine if it’s connected to the workplace. Transparent pre-employment medicals and ongoing employee health checks will mitigate misunderstandings and ensure your workforce is safe and healthy.
Mining Industry Pre-employment Medical Assessments
Physical and Mental Fitness
Mining is a high-risk industry. As of September 2019, there are already 7 reported deaths in the Australian mining industry alone.
Visual from Work Safe Australia: Preliminary worker deaths by industry of workplace
(Mining fatalities include fatalities that occur in the coal mining, oil and gas extraction, metal ore mining, gravel and sand quarrying, and services to mining sectors.)
Given the noted risks of workplace injury and death in the mining industry, pre-employment medicals aren’t just recommended—they’re a necessity. Miners’ physical and mental limits are tested on a daily basis. They operate dangerous machinery, specialized tools, as well as large motorized vehicles that are easily capable of causing great harm and even death every day.
The use of dangerous equipment can also pose a risk to any other team members working on the job or within the vicinity. If any employee is not physically and mentally equipped to handle their role, they could cause harm to anyone around them.
Pre-employment medical assessments guarantee prospective employees are both physically and mentally suitable for their new position.
According to Safe Work Australia, “Occupational noise-induced hearing loss (ONIHL) is a significant health and economic problem in Australia… The economic burden of ONIHL is borne by workers and their families, business owners and managers, and the wider society.”
Miners have a greater risk of suffering hearing loss than workers in other industries due to consistent hazardous noise exposure: “Miners report more hearing problems than any other type of worker.”
A pre-employment hearing assessment tests for hearing loss across a broad spectrum of frequencies to indicate if a candidate's hearing meets safety standards, and to establish the baseline hearing of a prospective employee before they’re hired. Conducting successive hearing assessments allows test results to be compared with previous years so that any changes that occur to an employee’s hearing can be measured and tracked over time.
It is imperative that employers of miners ascertain a baseline of their employees’ hearing upon employment. Performing hearing assessments ensure each new worker’s audiometric health is up to the standards of the job and help employers monitor their employees’ hearing throughout their time with the company.
WHA offers comprehensive and professional assessments 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
Dependence on alcohol or other recreational drugs present risks in any industry, but especially in high-risk industries such as mining. Drug and alcohol screening programs certify that all employees are fit to operate mining equipment, which relieves the risk of injury to employees and benefits the long-term financial health of a business.
Drug and alcohol screenings may include instant screening, instant machine screening, and laboratory screening, which test for illicit drugs such as:
It is critical that miners maintain optimal focus when operating mining equipment for the welfare and security of themselves and their fellow team members. Screening for drugs and alcohol in the mining industry confirms all employees are alert and healthy whenever they’re on the job.
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
Pre-employment medicals carry significant benefits for employers. Not only do they reduce the financial risks that can result from employee illness and injury, they improve the general wellbeing of your team and demonstrate to your employees, their families, and the public that you care about the betterment of your workforce.
💡 Learn more about The Importance of Pre-Employment Medicals and Employer Benefits.
Ongoing Employee Health Checks
Pre-employment medicals are only the first step in maintaining a safe and healthy workforce. Routine employee health checks make sure your miners are safe and healthy in and out of the mine for the extent of their employment.
Employee health checks are lifesaving for any industry where the risk of injury or death is high. Ongoing employee health assessments account for an array of check-ups that help identify any new health risks that arise during an employee’s time with your company. The assessments can look for any health deterioration that may have occurred since the original baseline set at the time of employment.
💡 Learn more about The Importance of Employee Health Checks.
Continue Supporting Your Workforce
The Heart Foundation says 51 Australians are lost to heart disease each day. Learn more about Taking Care of Your Heart Health at Work to Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease.
Exit medical assessments mitigate workplace risk by ensuring an employee’s health was not negatively impacted by the employment they are leaving. Learn more about The Benefits of Employee Exit Medical Assessments.
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.