The primary purpose of the NSW coal industry health surveillance scheme is to monitor workers’ health for any adverse health conditions as a result of their employment.
The medicals also serve a secondary purpose by monitoring for other health issues such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
It is well established that the early detection of disease can allow for better treatment options and improved health outcomes. Likewise, detection of increased risk and modification of risk factors with lifestyle or medication can delay the onset of disease.
Given the risks associated with coal mining, the assessment of absolute cardiovascular risk has been a routine element of the NSW coal industry periodic medical assessment for several years. This has been primarily for the benefit of the worker to encourage them to seek follow up for elevated risk.
It has long been agreed that those with moderate or higher risk should be referred to their General Practitioner (GP), but until now there have not been any agreed guidelines for medical certification. Increased rates of obesity, along with an aging and predominantly male workforce make this an increasingly important issue for the NSW coal industry.