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Health Surveillance and Biological Monitoring

Provides information on health surveillance and biological monitoring.

Note that although some guidance material was prepared under the auspices of previous departments and divisions, it is still valid.

What is health surveillance?

Health surveillance refers to any risk-based health assessment or biological monitoring used to identify changes in the health of workers.

For example , the Mines Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995 (WA) requires a health assessment where a worker may be exposed to agents or substances that warrant specific monitoring to assess potential adverse health effects or potential excessive exposure.

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What is biological monitoring?

Biological monitoring refers to medical tests that may be useful in the assessment and management of the risks of exposures to hazardous substances, such as blood lead tests for those who work with or transport lead.

While it is the responsibility of the employer to assess the requirement for biological monitoring, further testing may be directed by the State Mining Engineer.

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Risk-based health surveillance and biological monitoring guideline

Resources Safety’s risk-based health surveillance and biological monitoring guideline (PDF 813 kb) will help employers to meet their statutory requirements relating to biological monitoring and the additional health surveillance required when employees are exposed to hazardous substances.

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Who can I contact for further information?

For further information please contact Resources Safety - Occupational health.

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Forms

All occupational health related forms can be downloaded from the mines safety and health forms section.

There is no specific form required when a medical practitioner or approved person is advising an employer of the outcome of an employee’s health assessment such as biological monitoring.

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What were MineHealth assessments?

Health assessments were conducted when a worker entered the Western Australian mining industry, and then periodically or as directed. The health assessment comprised:

  • a work history
  • a respiratory questionnaire
  • a lung function test
  • an audiometric (hearing) test
  • in some cases, a chest x-ray.

The MineHealth database records the results of the initial and periodic health assessments (known as MineHealth assessments).

Two comprehensive epidemiological studies of the database conducted in 2010 and 2012 showed that these assessments neither prevented nor detected ill health at an early stage. The information sheet on frequently asked questions on health surveillance of mine workers (PDF 976 kb) provides more information about the cessation of MineHealth assessments on 12 January 2013.

To identify if a person has a health surveillance number (HSN) in the Minehealth database, enter the required information into the Minehealth HSN lookup system. A number will be returned if the person is listed in the database. Access to the lookup system is available below.

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Papers analysing the MineHealth database

Two papers analysing the MineHealth database were presented by Resources Safety staff at the 27th Annual Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists Conference, held on 5-9 December 2009 in Canberra. One discussed the broad implications of the data collected and the other specifically addressed noise exposure. They are available in poster format below.

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Occupational hygiene consultants

A list of occupational hygiene consultants is available from the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists.

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