Medical surveillance typically involves obtaining a baseline level of one or more materials that workers have been or will be exposed to, then periodically retesting to ensure that safe levels of exposures are maintained. When a level exceeds standards for safe exposure, MOH works with employers, employees and environmental health and safety professionals to take appropriate actions to minimize any long-term impact on the workers. MOH can advise employers on work environment procedures, policies and equipment to ensure safe exposure levels for specific duties.
Common materials monitored as part of customized medical surveillance protocols include:
Medical surveillance programs are commonly used in the workplace to screen employees for potential exposures to various health hazards – such as lead – as well as disease developments like asbestos. Medical surveillance is used to carefully observe the health of the employees for the initial development of work-related complications such as allergic reactions, hearing loss caused by noise exposure, including others. The primary goal of these programs is to identify potential health dangers and take the appropriate measures to curb them.
With approximately 100,000 chemicals being used in various industrial applications today, it is unfortunate that the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) only controls and regulates exposure to 30 materials. This is a clear indicator that these regulatory processes may not be able to properly address the health and safety of the volume of chemical materials being used.
In spite of this, OSHA requires employers to take steps to safeguard their employees from potential health hazards. This requirement provides employers and other occupational health professionals with the chance to consider using medical surveillance programs with the goal of promoting employee health.