A systematic approach to health surveillance in the workplace

Esso UK plc, London, UK.
Occupational Medicine (Impact Factor: 1.03). 01/1996; 45(6):305-10. DOI: 10.1093/occmed/45.6.305
Source: PubMed


This paper reviews the range of health surveillance activities which can be utilized in the workplace by occupational health professionals for assessing fitness for work and contributing to the prevention of occupational illness and promotion of good health. The systematic approach described categorizes health surveillance procedures into occupational or non-occupational, risk-based or unfocused, and as primary, secondary or tertiary preventive measures. All categories of health surveillance are currently being practised to some extent, but the type of surveillance may not match the needs of the workplace in some situation. In order to aid health professionals in deciding which procedures should be implemented, recommendations based on an assessment of health risks are made. The key proposal is to establish a minimum level of periodic health surveillance for all workers based on a targeted lifestyle health risk assessment and a structured health questionnaire. Additional procedures can then be added sequentially as appropriate to manage any health risks in the workplace. The role of the unfocused periodic general medical examination is discussed in the context of the systematic approach and allows occupational professionals to critically appraise its usefulness.

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    • "Traditionally, health surveillance has been defined as " the periodic medicophysiological examination of exposed workers with the objective of protecting and preventing occupationally related diseases " [1]. It includes " any procedure undertaken in individuals or groups to review an employee's health and assess any significant deviation from normality " [2]. Health surveillance is indicated when there is a continuing potential for occupational exposure to a hazard and there is a valid method of surveillance with adequate means for interpreting the findings [3]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Functional capacity evaluations in the post-offer phase of employment has the capacity to minimize work related injuries and promote wellness on the worksite. This paper includes a discussion of the value of post-offer evaluations and possible assessment options. To investigate the feasibility of administering post-offer evaluations, a case study was initiated. The Physical Work Performance Evaluation (PWPE) was administered to a new employee, VA, who was employed for the task of kneading dough, at a major food company. When compared to detailed work demands, there was no match between the job demands, and the client's capability in two sub-tests: lift from waist to eye level and trunk rotation. Based upon findings, recommendations for an initial graded work schedule, basic strengthening exercises, and modifications of the job site and task were made to the employer. The project was initiated with the hope of raising employee's and employer's awareness of workers health issues in the post-offer phase as it express itself in post-offer evaluation that aims to prevent musculoskeletal problems. This article aims to expand occupational therapists' awareness to the potential benefits of such a process.
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