Frequently asked questions

Published on: 2013-10-14

RECENT “SHEQ” QUESTIONS RECEIVED:  Send your question today and let’s discuss !

How can a fitness certificate reduce safety risks?

To answer this questions, one must first identify the type of “Safety Risk” that the organization want to reduce. A safety risk is caused by a Hazard and is a situation or circumstance that includes the possibility of injury or property damage. E.g. An employee with a chronic disease like Uncontrolled Hypertension could be a hazard if this employee’s responsibility includes to work with moving machinery, vehicles driving or working with hazardous substances.

Uncontrolled hypertension may result into:

  • chest pain, angina, or acute myocardial infarction
  • breathlessness and fatigue from heart failure
  • loss of consciousness, dizziness

Most jobs associated with safety critical issues are those where the worker operates vehicles—for example, cars, buses, planes, trains, ships, etc. In addition, operating cranes or handling dangerous industrial processes can also be classed as safety critical. Risk assessment for these activities is complex. For car driving, figures show that less than 0.1% of all accidents can be attributed to a health problem. Of those, 10–25% are said to be related to a cardiac event.

In a study undertaken over 20 years looking at the Public Transport Service,only six accidents were found to have been caused by a driver having a heart attack. A total of 6.8 million miles were covered corresponding to 334 000 driver hours. It therefore seems reasonable to assume that asymptomatic drivers who fulfill the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) criteria can safely be allowed to return to work without harm to others or themselves.

Loss of consciousness poses an equally complex problem. The decision as to whether an individual with a cardiac condition where there is a risk of loss of consciousness can return to a safety critical job depends on the exact nature of the cardiac condition and the likelihood that it will induce a serious arrhythmia, the probability that even with treatment the arrhythmia may recur, and the likelihood that the arrhythmia will impact on the individual losing control of the vehicle/process/machinery and that that loss of control will endanger other individuals or cause significant loss of another kind. This is the type of question that may be asked of a cardiologist when assessing the risk associated with returning to work into a safety critical role.

Why is an employee declared unfit for work?

There is various reasons why an employee can be declared unfit for work. Your appointed Occupational health Medical (OHMP)  / Nurse practitioner (OHNP) will make a decision  based on the physical and mental health status of the employee. Specific diagnostic information is deemed confidential and will not be discussed with the employer. However the OHMP / OHNP must inform the employer of the medical condition / symptoms that may affect the employee’s ability to  continue his/her work effectively or about any risk that the employee can pose to others.

We define “unfit to work” in the following categories:

1. Fit with limitations:

This means the employee can continue with his/her work, but is limited to shorter periods, more administrative type of work or work that puts less strain on the person.

2. Temporarily unfit:

This means the employee are not allowed to work for a period of time, but will be able to return to work once declared fit to work.

3. Permanently unfit:

This means that the OHMP recommended that the employee cannot return to the specific job that he/she were appointed for, on a permanent basis.

For more information about this topic, please send us your questions !

“Fit at work Greetings”