The primary purpose of fitness for work assessment is to make sure that an individual is fit to perform the tasks involved effectively and without risk to their own or others’ health and safety. It is not the intention to exclude a person from a job, but to provide advice to employers so that they can make any necessary reasonable adjustments to the job to allow the person to work efficiently and safely.
Why a fitness to work assessment may be needed:
- the individual’s health condition may be work relevant them and / or prevent them from effectively performing usual working tasks (e.g. musculoskeletal conditions that cause loss of power or limit movement)
- the individual’s health condition may be affected by the working tasks they are exposed to
- the individual’s health condition may affect their safety of the safety of other workers within safety critical roles
- the individual’s condition may pose a risk to the community (e.g. infection transmitted by a food handler)
Fitness to work medicals are often viewed by employers as a way of protecting their workforce and to reduce the risk of litigation in the event of injury in the workplace. The provision of fitness to work medicals enables employers to meet their statutory health and safety obligations to consider any health issues which may affect the safety of the worker or the general workforce.
Assessment of medical fitness may be needed for those who are:
- On recruitment for roles that expose the worker to higher degree of risks, or specific working tasks;
- On transfer to a new role within an existing workplace that increases the worker to a higher degree of risks or specific working tasks;
- Assessment of fitness to return to work following a period of sickness absence significant or prolonged illness or injury;
- Undergoing periodic review relating to specific fitness to work requirements (e.g. Fork truck operator medicals or working at height;
An assessment may be needed to help both the employer and the employee but should be directed at the job tasks in question. In some cases that meet the legal criteria for disability as determined by the Equality legislation, it is important to consider the provision of "reasonable adjustments" to modify working practices to accommodate health issues at work.