We are a […] testing laboratory. We were employed to perform testing for a contractor who is busy on a project for a new mine. Right now there is no mine and no infra structure.
Our facility is in town which is far away from where this mine is going to be.
Our staff undergoes medical examination which was instructed by the contractor. Two of my staff members were told to leave the premises because it was determined that the suffer high blood pressure. They were told not to come back unless it can be proof that their condition normalise.
What am i to do because no certificate was issued to state that these employees are medical unfit for work? What if they use the medication and their health dont improve? Do i still have to pay them? Can the contractor prevent them form working even if their condition is not any risk to their working environment. All they do is soil testing.
Do the same laws of the mine apply even if the facility is in a building in town far away from the mine. These guys do not even take part in the construction environment of the contractor. They stay and work in the laboratory.
Medical surveillance is a legal requirement of both the Mine Health and Safety Act 29 of 1996 (MHSAct) as well as the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 (OHSAct). If there’s a way of getting around this, the system is not running effectively.
In short, medical surveillance is used to identify trends in health deterioration which might be as result of occupations or working environments exposed to health risks. It is also used to identify individual health issues. The information gathered, if used correctly, plays an important role in mitigating risk. Blood pressure is currently a frequently reported condition.
Even if the mine is still under construction, you are working in a mine as per the MHSAct's definition. Therefore the Act applies.
If your laboratory is off-site, in other words outside the geographical parameters of the mine or a mine, the Act cannot prevent your employees from working. However, entry to the mine itself may be refused by the owner or appointed representative which in this case can be the mentioned contractor. Therefore, other employees who have been declared fit should be used to gather the samples inside the mine. If your lab is inside the mine, the employees declared unfit will probably be refused entry. Although they might not be working inside what can be considered a hazardous area, damage or injury resulting from the employee fainting can have legal implications for the mine. This can either indicated that they have a poor medical surveillance system or that they might be managing it poorly.
The practitioner conducting the test should provide you with a certificate or letter confirming the employee to be temporary unfit. The letter or certificate normally stipulate the vitals recorded and highlight those found to be outside the requirements.
The employee should be examined by a doctor to determine whether it was an isolated blood pressure event or if it's a chronic condition. If the condition is in fact chronic, it can be controlled with medicine. If the employee strictly follows the prescriptions from the doctor, he should be able to recover and be declared fit to enter the mine.
In the interest of managing the risk of your own company, it will be beneficial to have the employee examined by a doctor for treatment if required.