Medical Monitoring-September 2010

Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety 

September 2010

IN THIS ISSUE: Medical Monitoring

When hazardous chemicals are used on a routine basis, employers should implement a medical monitoring program.  In addition to managing health exposures though administrative and engineering controls and personal protective equipment, a medical monitoring program can detect early signs of disease and allow action to reduce or prevent more significant health effects.  

“Despite controls, the fact is that workers may still have acute or chronic health effects due to workplace exposures,” explains Gary R. Ticker, CIH, CSP, of OccuSafe, Inc. “Individual sensitivities and inadequate or improper use of control measures make this inevitable.” 

Depending upon the hazards, medical monitoring may include medical examinations, tests, radiography, pulmonary function tests, and use of bio-indicators.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed standards where medical monitoring is required: 

  • Hazardous Waste Operations 
  • Emergency Response
  • Respiratory Protection
  • Occupational Noise Exposure

OSHA also requires medical monitoring when specific chemicals such as asbestos, benzene, lead, chromium (VI), and formaldehyde are used. 

“Although a specific standard may not apply, employers should consider medical monitoring whenever employee exposure may regularly exceed OSHA or non-governmental standards such as those published by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists,” emphasizes Ticker.

When setting up a medical monitoring program, considerable preparation is required in these areas:

  • Determine which employees may be exposed, as well as the type, level, and frequency of exposure, and use of personal protective equipment. 
  • Compile information on hazardous chemicals used at the facility such as MSDS sheets and exposure records. 
  • Establish a suitable location and system for the secure storage of medical records. For example, under the lead standard, medical records must be kept for 40 years or 20 years past termination, whichever is longer. 
  • Select a physician or group of physicians who are familiar with occupational medicine.  Then, provide them with all pertinent information, acquaint them with your operations, and mutually develop medical protocols for all anticipated exposures. Standards may require or provide specific forms or testing protocols or leave evaluations up to the discretion of the physicians.

In cases where employees may be overexposed to hazardous chemicals, the implementation of a medical surveillance program is vital. It not only fulfills an employer’s obligation to maintain the health and safety of your employees, but also may avoid and provide protection from lawsuits and litigation.

For more information on this topic and to discuss your company’s safety and industrial hygiene needs call OccuSafe at (214) 662-6005 or (303) 219-6973 or visit us at

OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.

This newsletter is published monthly by OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc.   Feel free to forward it to friends and colleagues.

Comments are closed.