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Employment Medicals - What you need to know

By Yvette Montalbano on 18 September 2016

Employment Medicals/Medical Surveillance

Employment Medicals or “Medical surveillance”, is one of the many measures that can greatly reduce exposure to workplace hazards. Its very purpose is preventative in that it sets out to identify underlying causes of exposure and eliminate them.

In order to identify what type of medical surveillance needs to be conducted on which employee, a company is required to conduct an assessment of potential hazards in the areas of noise, illumination (light), ventilation, temperature, ergonomics and hazardous substances.  This assessment is commonly referred to as a “Hygiene Survey”.

The frequency of performing a Hygiene Survey is determined by the nature of the exposure.  If the hazardous exposure is to a hazard that has a control limit the cycle is every 12 months. If the hazard does not have a control limit the cycle is every 24 months.

What are your Duties?

You must make sure that medical surveillance is carried out if: 

  • Your risk assessment indicates that possible exposure has or can take place;
  • The occupational medical practitioner can justify the need for one; and if
  • The employee has an identifiable disease that could be linked to exposure to any hazardous agents in the workplace.

What classifies  as "Hazardous Agents" ?

Hazardous agents can be classified into the following categories;

  • chemical,
  • physical,
  • mechanical
  • psychological
  • ergonomic hazards

Chemical hazards: include hazards such as dust, vapours, fumes and gas;
Physical hazards:  include hazards such as noise, radiation, lighting and extreme temperatures;
Mechanical hazards:  include vibrations;
Psychological hazards:  include work-based stress; and
Ergonomic hazards:  can include poor posture due to manual handling for example.


  1. OHS Act 85 of 1993, Section 10, (3)a,b
  2.  Regs for Hazardous Biological Agents (GNR 27, Dec 2011)
  3. Construction Regs (GNR 84, Feb 2014)
  4. Environmental Regs (GNR 2281, Oct 1987)
  5. Facilities Regs (GNR 924, Aug 2004

Hazardous Chemical Substances Regs (GNR 1179, Aug 1995

A Special Note:

You are not permitted to order, distribute, issue or sell medication in the workplace