Medical screening and medical surveillance are terms which are often used interchangeably, however they are two distinct services. They are both integral to your employees’ occupational health programs. Medical screenings are often a component of a larger, more comprehensive medical surveillance program.
Medical screenings are an important element of occupational health programs and the larger medical surveillance process. Generally, medical screenings focus on the individual employee. Employees are tested for any underlying health conditions or diseases which may affect their ability to work safely. Typically, these screenings are conducted during pre-employment, and periodically throughout your employees’ tenure at your company such as during an annual exam. Medical screenings may consist of a physical exam, and a detailed medical and work history. It can also include blood tests, x-rays, pulmonary function tests, electrocardiograms and more. Medical screenings provide a snapshot of your employees health which may be useful to detect illness, and implement early intervention measures or treatments for their condition to ensure that they are healthy and protected while at work.
Medical Surveillance is a broader analysis of your workforce's health information. Under OSHA compliance regulations, an employee’s medical status is tracked over time. It is a longitudinal approach in which an entire group's information is collected, monitored over time and analyzed to determine trends that may be occurring in the workplace. By conducting a medical surveillance program, existing exposures or activities that require attention and prevention can be identified. In addition, new and emerging trends can be identified as quickly as possible. Surveillance may be instigated based on a single case or event, but more typically, it is used to screen results from the group of employees being evaluated to look for abnormal trends in health status. The results of the surveillance can then be used to resolved or eliminate the activities or situations which are leading to issues or exposure. By effectively utilizing a medical surveillance program, employers can identify ways to reduce or eliminate exposures, thereby reducing workplace illness and accidents.
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“Medical Screening and Surveillance.” Medical Screening and Surveillance - Overview | Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, https://www.osha.gov/medical-surveillance