Occ health: Operational fitness examinations


Employees are seen at the occupational health clinics for primary health care (PHC) examinations by the ONPs and OMPs. This is sometimes referred to as the “sick, lame and lazy clinics”. There are multiple outcomes of a PHC visit. One outcome is cure of the employee. The second outcome is assessment of operational fitness. If an employee is unfit to work the ONP, OMP, GP or specialist gives a sick note. The ONP’s and OMP’s sick note frequently gives the option of making the employee “Not fit for usual work, but fit for alternative work”. As the OMP and ONP have detailed knowledge of the exact work environment due to their regular workplace visits and evaluations, they are able to make informed decisions concerning fitness to do alternative work (also called “light duty”)

Reasons for performing operational fitness examinations.
– Specific operational fitness examinations are requested by departments. Departments notice when the employee’s ability to perform certain functions deteriorate
– GPs, specialists and traditional healers frequently write letters to the municipalities requesting “light duty” for their patients or request transfers of their patients to other parts of the organisation
– The departments notice that sick leave trends which are abnormal. Departments then request “operational fitness examinations

Employees are usually exploring in nature. That results in them strivng to drift in the organisation. This migration is sometimes welcomed and career paths get developed for the employees by management. Due to restrictions in the amount of posts this migration can not always be upwards on the hierarchical management growth path but can be sideways to other technical fields or training

This “position-hopping” can become problematic for the organisation. In certain high-risk jobs such as emergency health practitioners (EHP), Metro police officers and fire officers where high levels of fitness is required, position-hopping back to a more physically demanding job is not automatically possible. Operational work is frequently remunerated accordingly and employees doing administrative work or non-operational work can be paid less due to loss of access to overtime work. It becomes the dillema of the OMP and ONP when the employee wants to migrate back to operational status. Operational fitness examinations need to be performed in order to evaluate the employee’s capacity to migrate back to their original operational status

In spheres such as bus driving, specialist inputs from the bus driver’s inspector is crucial. If the inspectir finds the employees of fulfilling tgeir ability in for example bus driving, they won’t be allowed to do those responsible tasks

Operational fitness evaluations is not the same as medical surveillance examinations. A medical surveillance is annual or fixed episodic as stipulated by law (either OHSA or MHSA). A medical surveillance evaluation is therefore a compulsory operational fitness evaluation. Outcomes of the medical surveillance examinations can be “Fit for usual work”, “Temporarily unfit for usual work and alternative work”, “Temporarily unfit for usual work, but fit for alternative work”, “Permanently unfit for usual work”, “Fit for usual work, but with restrictions”, “Fit for usual work but with earlier follow-up dates”