AWSI, a DISA Global Solutions company, offers knowledgeable occupational health professionals to assist you with meeting your occupational health screening requirements. Occupational health, also commonly referred to as occ health, is a specific field of medical services dedicated to those in safety-sensitive workplaces. Such services are designed to meet the needs of safety-sensitive employers to help them increase workplace safety and employee productivity.
Our services include:
- Physical Exams
- Drug Testing
Depending on the position and the industry, the physical health of your employees could be of great importance while performing the requirements of the job itself. To keep your company and employees safe, physical exams can ensure that they meet compliance standards that are often set forth by government agencies, such as the Department of Transportation (DOT) for commercial truck driving positions.
To meet your industry needs, we provide a variety of physical exams, including DOT physicals, fit-for-duty physicals, and pre-employment.
- DOT Physicals – Under the DOT, drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are required to complete physical exams to ensure the driver is able to safely operate a motor vehicle. This physical requires procedures and specifications that may differ from a more standard physical for employees. Requirements are outlined and determined by the DOT, which the employer must fulfill.
- Fit-For-Duty Physicals – Employers can ensure that an employee can perform specific job tasks, whether they are already employed, or are returning to work following a significant injury. If an employee is completing a physical following an injury, which is often referred to as a “return-to-work exam”, then the employer is making sure that the employee can perform the tasks that their job requires without the risk of him/her re-injuring themselves. Each exam can vary depending on the position and can be customized to the employee’s role, including heavy lifting, maneuvering into small spaces, crouching or bending for long periods of time, etc.
- Pre-Employment Physicals – A pre-employment physical will help an employer assess if an applicant can safely perform the job at hand. Determining if the employee is physically fit for the job can help you build a team that achieves your companies’ goals, while maintaining safety in the workplace and minimizing risks.
Drug testing solutions can be used as a preventative measure in reducing and mitigating risks in the workplace, while ensuring safety to both employees and your company. It’s essential that employers create a drug testing program that encompasses their needs according to their industry standards, as well as state and/or federal law requirements.
When building a drug testing program, employers should consider testing methodologies, types of drugs to test for, and the different types of testing to customize their program to ensure they meet compliance standards and better protect their company. Employers can choose which types of drug tests they need, such as oral fluid testing, urinalysis, hair testing, etc. and the types of drugs they will test for. The most commonly tested drugs include, marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, Phencyclidine (PCP), and opioids.
Depending on the industry, as well as the job position, the testing types will vary. Employers should consider the following:
- Pre-employment screening- Prior to hiring an employee, most employers will conduct a pre-employment drug test to assist them with making the best hiring decisions possible. Pre-employment testing reduces turnover and accidents, improves productivity, decreases absenteeism, and increases protection of your company.
- Random testing- A random drug testing policy will help employers continue to maintain safety in the workplace by deterring drug use in the first place. Due to the element of surprise, employees won’t be able to predict when or if they will be drug tested, which helps prevent injuries and reduce employer liability.
- Post-accident- If an accident has occurred in the workplace, employees are subject to drug testing to ensure that they are not under the influence while on the job. Workplace accidents can lead to serious injuries, property damage, and even fatalities, which is why it’s so important to determine if drugs and/or alcohol were a leading cause to the accident itself.
- Reasonable suspicion- Reasonable suspicion is performed when there is evidence or reasonable cause to suspect that an employee is under the influence or used while on the job. Such evidence can be based off of observations of a trained supervisor or employee.
- Return-to-Duty (RTD)- Return-to-Duty testing gives employees another chance after violating an employer’s drug and alcohol policy. If a company follows federally-mandated testing guidelines, then a Return-to-Duty test must be performed if one of the three incidents occurred: a positive drug test result, violation of a specific drug rule, or a violation of a specific alcohol rule.
Some industries and job positions require employees to wear a respirator to protect them from inhaling toxins while on the job. To determine if an employee is eligible to wear a respirator, they must first undergo a respiratory physical and a respirator fit test. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employees complete a fit test before their first use, along with annual exams.
What is a respirator physical?
Wearing a respirator can make it difficult to breath, and since not all people are physically able to wear one due to a medical condition, a respirator physical will help an employer determine whether an employee is capable of fulfilling their duties for the job. A respirator will consider your health, respirator type, job description, and the condition of the workplace.
According to OSHA, “before you can be medically evaluated, your employer must also provide the physician or licensed healthcare professional with information about how you will use the respirator at work.”
- the type and weight of your respirator;
- how long and how often you will be wearing the respirator;
- how hard you will be working and how much effort will be involved;
- other protective clothing or equipment you will wear during respirator use;
- temperature and humidity extremes at work; along with
- a copy of the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard and your employer's written respiratory protection program.”
In addition, an OSHA Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire will be administered to help the healthcare professional determine if an employee is able to wear a respirator, or they may need to proceed with a physical exam as well.
Even if an employee is cleared to wear a respirator, certain factors could lead to a reevaluation, such as:
- Reported medical signs or symptoms related to your ability to use a respirator
- Someone such as a physician or licensed healthcare provider, your supervisor, or the respirator program administrator informs your employer that you need to be reevaluated
- Information or observations made during the evaluation that indicates you need a reevaluation
- A change occurs in workplace conditions that makes it more difficult to wear the respirator
What is a respirator fit test?
Differing from a respirator physical, a respirator fit test is required for employees who wear tight-fitting respirators. If a respirator doesn’t fit properly, then it’s not going to protect the employee. A respirator fit test will test the seal that closes the respirator facepiece to your face. An exact make, model, and size respirator that you will actually be using on the job will be tested. There are two types of respirator fit tests: quantitative and qualitative.
- Qualitative- A pass/fail method that will use your sense of taste or smell in reaction to an irritant to detect if the facepiece is leaking.
- Quantitative – Measures the actual amount of leakage using a machine rather than relying on your senses to detect the leakage itself.
Many industries, especially those with safety-sensitive positions, are exposed to loud noises which can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss. According to OSHA’s hearing conservation program, employers must monitor noise exposure levels for those exposed to noise at or above 85 decibels (dB) averaged over 8 working hours. They must also establish an audiometric testing program which includes, baseline audiograms, annual audiograms, training, and follow-up procedures.
- Audiometric testing – Monitors an employee’s hearing over time at no cost to those exposed to 85 dB or above at an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) to see if the program is actually protecting an employee’s hearing.
- Baseline audiograms – Baseline audiograms are the reference to which future audiograms are compared. Provided to the employee after six months of initial exposure at or above 85 db at an 8-hour TWA.
- Annual audiograms -It’s important that employers test employees on a yearly basis to monitor hearing conditions. This must be provided within one year of the baseline audiogram and compared to determine if the employee has lost hearing.
- Hearing protectors – Must be provided to employees exposed at or above 85db at an 8-hour TWA to ensure that they have access to protection prior to any hearing loss.
- Training – Training employees on the importance of a hearing conservation program will encourage workers to wear their preventative hearing protection, as well as complete their audiometric tests. All employees who are exposed at or above 85 db at an 8-hour TWA must undergo training requirements.