Thursday, October 11, 2012

medical monitoring

A couple weeks ago, ask a manager had a question about an invasive pre-employment medical questionnaire. They were about to start a job in environmental consulting. A bunch of people responded that yes, a thorough medical exam is required for this work, but I wanted to expand a little.

If you are in a position where you may be handling hazardous waste, or you may be investigating an unknown site with unknown contaminants, you fall under HAZWOPER (hazardous waste operations and emergency response). HAZWOPER  requires medical monitoring. I'm going to quote from the standard itself here:

Medical examinations required by paragraph (f)(3) of this section shall include a medical and work history (or updated history if one is in the employee's file) with special emphasis on symptoms related to the handling of hazardous substances and health hazards, and to fitness for duty including the ability to wear any required PPE under conditions (i.e., temperature extremes) that may be expected at the work site.

Since your employer doesn't know exactly what you may end up handling, you can be expected to be tested for everything under the sun, and for your ability to wear the highest level of physical protection (earplugs/respirator/fully encapsulating suit).

So, you'll be asked to fill out a complete questionnaire which will ask for your complete family history (and which the doctor will spend two seconds looking at). At the exam, you'll likely get a chest x-ray. You may have an EKG (I've had just one). You'll definitely get a hearing test and a lung capacity test. You'll have to pee into a cup for a urine sample (usually this is in a DOT drug-testing bathroom with no hand-washing facilities so you can't monkey with the urine sample - don't even get me started on how gross this is for a lady) and you'll get what feels like several quarts of blood removed. And then, if you ever leave that first job and start a new one, you'll get to do the full exit physical for the one and the full entrance physical for the other.  

After they do all their tests, they send your employer a form saying that you were or were not medically cleared to do the stuff they want you to do. Your employer does not get to see the whole enchilada. And if you think that's invasive, just wait until you go for your CDL...

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