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Crystaline Silica Health Monitoring Medicals for Workers Exposed to Silica Dust

Crystalline silica is a hazardous chemical commonly found in aggregates, mortar, concrete and stone. Regular exposure (inhalation) to crystalline silica may lead to the onset of symptoms including respiratory irritation, shortness of breath and asthma. Workers who are frequently exposed to crystalline silica at high levels, may develop acute silicosis (lung fibrosis). Silicosis is a progressive condition that can cause dyspnoea (shortness of breath) and even death.

Safe Work Australia classifies crystalline silica as a hazardous chemical that requires health monitoring of any employees who are exposed to it.

Employees working around respirable crystalline silica (RCS) must undergo periodic health monitoring as per Safe Work Australia standards.

With respect to Health Monitoring of Crystalline Silica Exposure, the recommended schedule is as follows:

Pre-Employment 

Crystalline Silica Medical completed at pre-employment. All future results will be compared to this to determine any changes in an employees lung function;

Periodic (Annually)

Crystalline Silica Medical to be completed annually while an employee is working in the hazardous environment;

Post Employment

Crystalline Silica Medical to be conducted once an employee finishes working in the hazardous environment.

A pre-employment baseline crystalline silica health monitoring medical contains the following tests:

  • Respiratory function and past exposure questionnaire
  • Medical Examination with particular focus on the respiratory system
  • Spirometry (lung function) test
  • Medical Review and Sign-off
  • Chest x-ray

A periodic crystalline silica health monitoring medical should be conducted annually and contains the following tests:

  • Respiratory function and past exposure questionnaire
  • Medical Examination with particular focus on the respiratory system
  • Spirometry (lung function) test
  • Medical Review and Sign-off
  • Chest x-ray (if clinically indicated or if previous chest x-ray was 5 years prior)

A post employment crystalline silica health monitoring medical should be conducted upon completion of work around silica and contains the following tests:

  • Respiratory function and past exposure questionnaire
  • Medical Examination with particular focus on the respiratory system
  • Spirometry (lung function) test
  • Medical Review and Sign-off
  • Chest x-ray (if clinically indicated)

In the event that spirometry test results are outside of the normal range KINNECT would refer for further review. The result would be rated depending on the % predicted values as follows:

  • Mild obstruction = 60-79% (FEV1 or FVC);
  • Moderate obstruction = 41-59% (FEV1 or FVC);
  • Severe = 40% and below (FEV1 or FVC).

The process for employees requiring further review is as follows:

  • Second spirometry reading is taken two weeks after initial reading;
  • If second reading is still abnormal the employee is retested post Bronchodilator inhalation;
  • If test results post Bronchodilator are still abnormal, KINNECT will refer the employee for a Chest X-ray. The Chest X-ray results will be reviewed by our Occupational Physician, who will provide a detailed health surveillance report, including how to appropriately manage the identified risk.

Carelever

Carelever leverages the power of technology to automate or eliminate many of the time consuming administrative tasks associated with the management of Health Surveillance programs.

Our cloud based health surveillance software makes managing your health surveillance program a breeze. Using Carelever you are able to:

  • Book a Health Surveillance Assessment for an employee anywhere in Australia
  • Store the health data for each employee
  • Compare the latest results against previous tests or baseline test
  • Identify employees who are showing a change in health and are at increased risk of occupational related injury/illness
  • Notification for the next periodic health surveillance test (e.g. 6 months, 12 months or 2 years)

FAQs

KINNECT have 12 conveniently located clinics distributed throughout Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia. In addition, KINNECT have greater than 350 Medical Affiliates nationally and internationally. This allows us to coordinate Respirable Crystalline Silica Health Assessments in geographical regions close to where an employee is located.

Should we not have existing coverage in areas in which you require assessments to be performed, KINNECT will source an Affiliate provider to ensure seamless service provision.

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      HS Health Surveillance Services KINNECT P Pathology PA Pre-Employment Assessments R Radiology

      Examples of work activities involving crystalline silica which require special attention when assessing exposure include:

      • excavation, earth moving and drilling plant operations clay and stone processing machine operations
      • paving and surfacing
      • mining and mineral ore treating processes
      • construction labouring activities
      • brick, concrete or stone cutting, especially using dry methods
      • abrasive blasting—blasting agent must not contain >1 per cent crystalline silica foundry casting.

      KINNECT holds extensive experience with the evaluation and monitoring of crystalline silica medicals. KINNECT currently coordinates Crystalline Silica Health Monitoring programs for many large multi-national organisations working within the tunnelling, mining & construction industries.

      KINNECT’s Occupational Health Doctors involved with the review and monitoring of crystalline silica medicals, hold membership with Royal College of General Practitioners and have extensive Occupational Health experience (25 years+) providing Pre-Employments, Hazardous Substance Surveillance, Injury Management and other Occupational Health Services within the construction industry, transport industry, mining sector, defence and Government.  Our Doctors hold a competency level 4 with respect to the Health Surveillance for all hazardous substances, including Crystalline Silica.

      ILO chest x-rays are required by legislation when performing health surveillance on an worker exposed to crystalline silica. They are performed by Radiologists accredited with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists.  The turnaround time on ILO chest x-rays is 24-48 hours.

      Occupational Silicosis: A Short Guide for Employers

      Download our FREE Silicosis Guide for Employers.

      Need More Information?

      Contact KINNECT to discuss our Respirable Crystalline Silica Monitoring Services.

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