Safety Critical Worker Medicals

MOHS is a CBH-approved supplier* of safety critical worker medicals, Occupational Health services, and drug and alcohol testing. We're also instrumental in the development of the B&CE "People's Health" scheme, which will eventually replace safety critical medicals.

Constructing Better Health (CBH) defines safety critical work as…

…where the ill health of an individual may compromise their ability to undertake a task defined as safety critical, thereby posing a significant risk to the health and safety of others.”


Workers who undertake safety critical medicals ensure that they and the organisations for whom they carry out the work are legally compliant under prevailing health and safety legislation.

The possibility of employing someone not ‘fit for task’ onsite could put them and other employees at risk. Even if no accident occurs but inspectors find workers in safety critical environments not carrying a fit for work certificate, they can prosecute under HSE violation.

What is the purpose of a safety critical worker (SCW) medical?

A safety critical medical determines if a worker has a medical condition that impairs their ability to execute tasks deemed ‘safety critical’. If that condition has an adverse affect on their health, it could jeopardise their own safety and that of closeby colleagues. Respective medical conditions and their symptoms could include, but is not limited to:

  • sudden loss of consciousness or incapacity;
  • impairment of airways;
  • loss of concentration;
  • impairment of balance or coordination;
  • significant limitation of mobility.

Proper screening through an approved safety critical medical OHSP can help identify and address conditions before they become a risk.

Who needs a SCW medical?

A risk assessment of any given activity should identify whether it is of a safety critical nature. If so, workers carrying out that task should undergo a full SCW medical assessment by a qualified occupational health provider.

Workers who fall in the safety critical bracket could include:

  • plant machinery operators;
  • high speed roadside workers;
  • people working at heights (scaffolders, etc.);
  • people working in confined spaces (tunnellers, welders, etc.);
  • anyone identified in the risk assessment process.

What does the medical involve?

Specific assessments workers undergo in an SCW medical will depend on the job being undertaken and its associated risk. CBH* sets the standard for most safety critical roles within the construction industry.

The organisation dictates the minimum health surveillance a task and its operator need. That said, some employers can and do ask for extra assessments over and above the norm.

All safety critical workers need to complete a health questionnaire. They then take a series of tests, all designed to assess whether they are currently fit for task.

These tests can include:

  • blood pressure;
  • hearing;
  • respiratory (lung function);
  • skin checks;
  • visual acuity (sight);
  • colour perception;
  • psychological and mental health;
  • urinalysis (urine test);
  • mobility and coordination (musculoskeletal) checks
  • hand arm vibration (HAVS);
  • drug and alcohol screening.

That list is by no means all encompassing. Employers and contractors can add other tests to the above list relevant to the task/industry and health and safety compliance requirements.

CBH has produced an in depth overview so that members can get a more in depth understanding of the scheme and what it involves. From their site, you can download “THE NATIONAL SCHEME FOR WORKPLACE HEALTH MANAGEMENT | Contractor Guide

How long does a SCW medical take?

SCW medicals usually take 90 minutes to complete. We can carry them out here at the MOHS medical centre in West Bromwich or onsite at clients' premises.

We produce a report for each individual outlining any outcomes and how they affect their ability to work. 'Fit for task' medicals have three possible outcomes:

  1. fit to work;
  2. fit to work, but with certain restrictions in place;
  3. not fit to work.

Employees deemed ‘not fit to work’ can receive treatment and undergo monitoring over time. When their health shows improvements, they can take the test again.

Should they then pass, they are clear to return to their safety critical role if they and their employer have no objections. In some instances, employers may also decide to administer a functional assessment to ensure employee safety and capability.

*MOHS Workplace Health is a CBH accredited provider of SCW medicals; feel free to download our current CBH certificate. Once the details of the successive "People's Health" Scheme become available (testing and development ongoing), we will update the information here.

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