Your employer health monitoring duties
The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations) require an employer to carry out health monitoring for an employee if an employee's exposure to crystalline silica dust is reasonably likely to have an adverse effect on their health.
The OHS Regulations also set out additional health monitoring responsibilities for employers, particularly in relation to reporting requirements and record keeping.
Using the free silica health assessments to meet your health monitoring duties
WorkSafe, in partnership with The Alfred, is offering a free health assessment to eligible workers in the Victorian stonemason industry through the Alfred Occupational Respiratory Clinic.
The tests that are undertaken as part of the free health assessment are similar to the health monitoring tests that are carried out under the OHS Regulations.
This means that you will satisfy your health monitoring duties under the OHS Regulations if your employee participates in a free health screening assessment and:
- your employee consents to the AORC releasing the report of their testing to you
- you store a record of the report
- you provide a copy of this report to WorkSafe in certain circumstances
What if an employee refuses to participate in the free health assessment program?
Employees must cooperate with any action taken by their employer to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) and OHS Regulations.
Some employees may be reluctant to participate due to anxiety about medical results or the impact of the results on their job. Employers should encourage employees to participate in health monitoring, as early detection and treatment can prevent more serious and life-threatening conditions from developing.
If employees are still not willing to participate, employers can request WorkSafe to attend the workplace and speak with their employees about the importance of health monitoring.
More information on refusal to participate in health monitoring can be found in the Compliance Code: Managing exposure to crystalline silica – engineered stone.
If an employee does not wish to participate in this program and you are required to undertake health monitoring under the OHS Regulations, you will continue to have this obligation.
Health monitoring and health screening reports
If you are required to undertake health monitoring under the OHS Regulations, you must ensure that the registered medical practitioner who does your employees' assessment prepares a health monitoring report, and that this report includes the information that is required under the OHS Regulations. Once the medical practitioner has completed this report, you should ensure that a copy is received from them directly.
If your employee participates in the free health screening program and consented to a copy of this report being provided to you, you will receive a copy of the report from the Alfred Occupational Respiratory Clinic.
An employer must provide a copy of the report to the employee as soon as reasonably possible after they receive it.
Record keeping requirements
Under the OHS Regulations, you must keep health monitoring reports for at least 30 years.
If your employee has undertaken a free health assessment and has consented to you receiving a copy of this report, you will not be required to keep a copy of this report unless you intend to use it to comply with your health monitoring record keeping duties under the OHS Regulations.
In these circumstances, you must ensure that your employee is made aware that their results may be stored, and that in certain circumstances you may be required to provide a copy of this report to WorkSafe.
It's recommended that health monitoring is carried out at least annually, or as advised by the registered medical practitioner.
If your employee undertakes a free health assessment this year, you will need to ensure that you undertake health monitoring on an ongoing basis if you are required by the OHS Regulations to undertake health monitoring.
The AORC is available for an initial free screening for eligible workers in the Victorian stonemason industry, however your obligation to ensure your employees undertake health monitoring is ongoing. At the conclusion of the screening the AORC will recommend when a follow up assessment should take place, and whether that assessment is to be done at the AORC or with an alternate medical practitioner.