An occupational health assessment is a medical examination performed by a doctor who determines whether or not someone is fit for work. The assessment can also include recommendations for workplace improvements which will help someone work more safely and effectively. Workplace safety as a whole can also be a concern, with some doctors traveling to workplaces to confirm that the overall workplace is healthy for employees. Some employers require their personnel to undergo occupational health assessments on a regular basis, so that they can keep an eye on employee health and safety, while others may request assessments as needed.
In a situation where an employee has been off work due to extended illness which may be occupational in nature, an occupational health assessment may be requested. Likewise, employees may be examined before returning to work after illness or injury to confirm that they are ready to come back. Employees who work in risky industries can also undergo regular assessments to confirm that they are in good health, as are employees who are exposed to hazards, or employees who appear to be struggling at work due to health problems.
Discrimination due to medical conditions is banned by law in many regions of the world, which means that occupational health assessments cannot be used to muster ammunition to fire employees. However, they can be used to confirm that employees are healthy, and to address health issues which interfere with function in the workplace. For example, a secretary who routinely experiences back pain might receive recommendations in an occupational health assessment which will reduce the risk of damaging the back.
In the course of an assessment, employees may undergo a physical exam in addition to giving samples for analysis in a lab. The doctor may have a set of criteria to go over to confirm that someone is fit for duty, such as a negative score on a tuberculosis test, a demonstrated ability to lift a minimum weight, or good vision. If problems are observed in the occupational health assessment, the doctor discusses the problems and possible solutions with the patient, and also reports them in a written evaluation for the employer.
Certain types of health issues can exclude people from particular duties. Drivers, for example, need to have good vision to work safely. If a problem which prevents someone from working is identified in an occupational health assessment, it may be necessary for the employee to be moved to a different position, or to be retired or put on temporary because he or she can no longer work. Since the unemployment would be the result of a demonstrated disability, the employee would be eligible for insurance benefits and government benefits until the problem was corrected, or for life, depending on the nature of the disability.