What are occupational health hazards

Preventive occupational medicine - targeted prevention of occupational diseases

Preventive occupational health care is important in order to protect each individual employee from work-related hazards and thus from occupational diseases. In the following article you can find out what types of occupational medical check-ups there are and what obligations the employer has to meet.

In the context of occupational health and safety, employers and doctors are required to adhere to the guidelines for the early detection, prevention and avoidance of work-related illnesses of employees. For this reason, preventive medical examinations are an important part of company health management (BGM for short), in addition to the design and organization of working conditions and work equipment. Since 2008, preventive occupational health care has been regulated in the so-called Ordinance on Occupational Health Care, or ArbMedVV for short.

The ArbMedVV clearly distinguishes between preventive occupational health care and so-called aptitude tests. This is because an aptitude test examines whether an employee is qualified for certain activities. Preventive occupational health care cannot be equated with an aptitude test.

In addition to the ArbMedVV, the Occupational Safety and Health Act also contains clear regulations on preventive occupational health care. According to Section 11 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employees have the right to regular occupational medical examinations.

Workplace health: preventive measures and maintain employability

The regulations of occupational health care pursue several goals:

  1. Recognize occupational diseases
  2. Maintain employability of employees
  3. Continuous updating of occupational health protection.

After all, in terms of occupational health and safety, employees must be protected from dangers in the workplace as much as possible. At the same time, it is problematic for the employer if an employee accumulates a large number of days absent due to an illness, for example mental health problems.

The good news: Employees are not left to their own devices when it comes to regulations on preventive occupational health care. Naturally, the ArbMedVV also plays an important role for the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) as the umbrella organization of the professional associations.

The risk assessment forms the basis

The basis of preventive occupational health care and examinations is initially a risk assessment, which is drawn up by a company doctor in cooperation with the employer, as well as the resulting findings. According to Paragraph 3, Paragraph 1 of the ArbMedVV:

the employer (...) to ensure appropriate preventive occupational health care based on the risk assessment. In doing so, he must observe the provisions of this ordinance including the annex (...).

The examination is compulsory for many professions, not for everyone. In principle, the company doctor is subject to confidentiality and is not allowed to give the employer any details about the state of health of the respective employee. What he is allowed to do: Inform the employer about his findings if there are health concerns.

A distinction is made between three types of preventive occupational health care:

  • Compulsory pension (must be arranged by the employer, at regular intervals)
  • Offer provision (must be regularly offered by the employer. The employee decides whether to take up the offer)
  • Desired pension (must be made possible by the employer on a regular basis. The initiative comes from the employee)

An example of an offer or request provision is, for example, a test for hay fever when working outdoors or in the event of possible connections between mental illness and the workplace.

The company doctor can also provide advice on diabetes as part of a preventive healthcare facility. After all, the disease affects large parts of the workforce. The primary goal here is to maintain workforce, health and safety at work.

Examinations must always be carried out by a company doctor and must be tailored to the specific hazards in the company. The attending physician must have acquired a qualification as a specialist in occupational medicine or must have additionally qualified in occupational medicine. This is regulated in the Occupational Safety and Health Act (ArbSchG).

These points fall under preventive occupational health care:

  • Assessment of the stress and risk to employees in the company
  • Assessment of how working conditions can be improved
  • Update of the health concept in the company
  • Check-ups to diagnose occupational diseases
  • Advice and education for employees

Example of preventive occupational health care: preventive medical check-up according to G42

The criteria for an occupational medical examination vary depending on the occupational field. Because every job has its very own effects on the employee. In professions in which employees have to be protected from serious infectious diseases such as rabies or hepatitis, the mandatory preventive medical check-up according to G42 applies, for example.

The following professional groups are affected:

  • Personnel in care and elderly facilities
  • Medical staff such as doctors, nurses and medical technicians
  • Educators, child carers
  • Forest workers, gardeners, landscaping
  • Employed in veterinary medicine
  • Workers in wastewater management and waste disposal

The first examination must be carried out when you are hired; a follow-up examination is due within the next twelve months. The company doctor then carries out the preventive medical check-up at 3-year intervals. If, however, a risk situation has arisen, the investigation immediately follows the event.

What exactly does the occupational medical examination include?

As a prerequisite for an occupational medical examination, the company doctor is in close and regular contact with an employee of the company who also functions as a specialist in occupational safety and health.

In this way, the working conditions can be analyzed and the provision tailored to them. On the basis of this cooperation, a hazard analysis is first carried out before the investigation finally takes place. Appropriate key indicator methods, i.e. tools that are used to determine the workload, help with this.

Health protection: This is how preventive occupational health care works

During the actual examination, the doctor assesses whether an employee's health effects can be traced back to the working conditions. The results are documented and evaluated in writing.

This is followed by the consultation: The company doctor discusses the results with the employee, names risks and dangers and provides information on ways of eliminating or alleviating existing symptoms (e.g. back training).

Preventive measures are also considered during this interview. In this context, the doctor also advises the employer and makes recommendations on industrial safety measures. In the case of mandatory examinations, there is also an obligation to provide information (without the doctor being allowed to pass on findings and diagnoses).

When are occupational medical check-ups mandatory?

Whether compulsory preventive care or preventive care on offer: Various lists within the ordinance provide information on whether the employee must or can undergo regular occupational medical check-ups. In parlance, we speak of ā€œGā€ examinations, instructions for doctors that refer to the legally binding ordinance on preventive occupational health care.

For these activities or workplaces, preventive medical examinations must be regularly arranged or offered by the employer:

  • When workers are exposed to dust, hazardous substances and gases
  • When there are risks from sources of infection
  • When the skin is stressed while working
  • When working on screen
  • For driving and driving activities
  • With respiratory protection wearers
  • When traveling abroad
  • In laboratories and research institutes
  • If there is a risk of falling
  • When employees are exposed to physical risks (e.g. pressure, temperatures)

G25 and G37: Frequent occupational medical examinations

The so-called G25 examination is one of the most common occupational medical examinations and is primarily aimed at professional groups such as

  • Driver of motor vehicles, rail vehicles or industrial trucks
  • Users of stacker cranes and aircraft ground handling equipment
  • Hoists and similar devices

During these examinations by the doctor, it is first checked whether the employee fulfills the physical requirements for work-related tasks related to driving, driving and monitoring activities. In addition, the occupational health practitioner carries out educational work and may issue conditions for certain work tasks or give recommendations for various protective measures in order to ensure permanent health and safety at work.

The age of the employees should not be neglected either. In this context, preventive occupational health care also deals with the stress at work caused by old age. The goal: to create age-appropriate working conditions.

The G37, the screen addition work, is also done frequently. It is important in order to recognize eye problems and other restrictions that can result from PC work in good time. The first examination takes place when starting work. For employees up to 40 years of age, the first follow-up examination must be carried out no later than 60 months after the initial examination (for persons over 40 years of age, before 36 months have elapsed). First of all, the medical history (medication, existing eye problems, musculoskeletal disorders, metabolic and neurological diseases, high blood pressure) is examined by a general practitioner or specialist. It is then the job of an ophthalmologist to check your eyesight.

FAQ: The answers to your questions about preventive occupational health care

What does preventive occupational medicine include?

The preventive care consists of a consultation with findings and work history. Clinical and physical examinations may be offered by the doctor, but not required.

What happens if the employer does not adhere to the regulations on preventive occupational health care?

Then he faces either a fine or other criminal law consequences.

Is an occupational medical examination also an aptitude test?

No, the occupational health check-up only aims to determine whether there are health risks associated with certain activities in the workplace. Suitability tests must be carried out separately from preventive occupational health care.

Do vaccinations belong to preventive occupational health care?

There is no compulsory vaccination. A vaccination can be offered as a preventive measure, but may only be carried out with the consent of the employee.

Can an employee continue to work against the advice of the doctor?

Yes, he can. In this case, there is no employment ban in the ArbMedVV.

When does preventive occupational medicine take place?

According to ArbMedVV, the examination / clarification should take place during working hours.

Author: Editorial Team SafetyXperts