Fitness for safety critical work

Safety critical work can be defined as a task where the ill health of an individual may compromise their ability to do that task, therefore posing a significant risk to the health and safety of others, as well as plant, premises and the environment. Types of safety critical roles involve operating machinery such as cranes, or driving passenger vehicles such as trains or planes. Other safety critical roles include managing safety critical control systems such as air traffic controllers, working within the railway industry or nuclear industry.

Medical fitness standards apply to certain safety critical roles and there are specific industry standards for certain industry groups, such as the railway, airline and construction industries. Safety critical roles rely on the employee being medically fit for that role as well as technically competent. It is therefore important that safety critical workers are not suffering from medical conditions or undergoing any medical treatment which is likely to cause sudden loss of consciousness or incapacity, impairment of awareness, concentration, balance or coordination, or significant limitation of mobility.

A safety critical medical will need to be conducted prior to any individual starting in a safety critical role.  The occupational health provider will work with the employer to understand the specific nature of safety critical roles of their staff and identify appropriate industry standards. A medical assessment is likely to include a detailed questionnaire to understand the health history and current conditions and treatment, as well as a number of tests including eyesight, hearing test, urinalysis, blood pressure and any other industry specific tests. Medical requirements may vary in frequency depending on the industry and as an individual’s health may change over time, a reassessment is recommended for any significant change in health status or for sickness absence due to a condition that may affect fitness for safety critical work. To understand the occupational health assessment requirements for your industry and organisation, please get in touch today, for more information.