by Juliet Kekana

Health and Safety

Staff Medicals as part of OHS Act Compliance

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Anything that relates to staff medicals is rather a bone of contention in the workplace. With the rise of several epidemics and some occupational medical conditions that employers came to adopt in the past two decades, it has become clear that the face of medical surveillance is a dynamic one. Having said that, this means that employers need to keep abreast of changes in relevant legislation on how to best manage those occupational conditions that threatens their workforce.

Having considered risks and hazards that relate to each workplace, given the nature and scope of that work environment, employers need to involve Occupational Health  and Occupational Hygiene professionals respectively,  in  the Identification, Evaluation and Control of such hazards in order to prevent and manage Illnesses and diseases that emanating from such hazards.

Most of the time, employees overlook the potential of their work environments as source of such occupational conditions as its commonly believed that the only culprit is the mining industry. The Occupational Health and Safety Act instructs all employers to create a safe working environment that is without harm to their employees, visitors and members of the public.

The need for occupational hygiene in the protection of workers’ health cannot be overemphasized. Even when feasible, the diagnosis and the cure of an occupational disease will not prevent further occurrences, if exposure to the aetiological agent does not cease. So long as the unhealthy work environment remains unchanged, its potential to impair health remains.

Upon employment, staff need to be medically assessed by Occupational Health professionals to ascertain their state of health and medical fitness for them to work in a specific environment. Here are further reasons why employees need to be medically assessed:


  • To establish if there are any pre-existing medical conditions
  • To assess your suitability for the position and the physical work environment for which you are being considered.
  • It’s a legal requirement.
  • To protect the employer against potential liabilities.
  • To protect the workforce.
  • Early detection of medical conditions


  • Upon employment
  • Thereafter, annually

Employers need to manage the medical surveillance program in a way that employees are aware od reasons why they do it and being assured that their medical records will be kept confidential considering the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI).

Written by Juliet Kekana – Managing Director – De-novo HSE Training and Consulting

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Issue 413


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