Medical Screening and Surveillance
Medical screening and medical surveillance are two fundamental strategies for optimizing employee health. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, they are quite distinct concepts. Medical screening is, in essence, only one component of a comprehensive medical surveillance program. The fundamental purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment of the individual and thus has a clinical focus. The fundamental purpose of surveillance is to detect and eliminate the underlying causes such as hazards or exposures of any discovered trends and thus has a prevention focus. Both can contribute significantly to the success of worksite health and safety programs. However OSHA "medical surveillance" requirements are generally clinically focused (e.g.,medical and work histories, physical assessment, biological testing) with information obtained from the clinical processes used in the monitoring and analysis elements of medical surveillance.
Medical screening and surveillance are addressed in specific standards for the general industry.
How do I find out about employer responsibilities and workers' rights?
Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces. The OSHA law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law (including the right to raise a health and safety concern or report an injury). For more information see www.whistleblowers.gov or Workers' rights under the OSH Act.
OSHA can help answer questions or concerns from employers and workers. To reach your regional or area OSHA office, go to the OSHA Offices by State webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
Small business employers may contact OSHA's free and confidential On-site Consultation program to help determine whether there are hazards at their worksites and work with OSHA on correcting any identified hazards. Consultants in this program from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs. On-site Consultation services are separate from enforcement activities and do not result in penalties or citations. To contact OSHA's free consultation service, go to OSHA's On-site Consultation web page or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) and press number 4.
Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards. Workers can file a complaint with OSHA by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), online via eComplaint Form, or by printing the complaint form and mailing or faxing it to the local OSHA area office. Complaints that are signed by a worker are more likely to result in an inspection.
If you think your job is unsafe or if you have questions, contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Your contact will be kept confidential. We can help. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA's Workers' page.
In Focus: Ebola
- Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire Infosheet. OSHA Publication No. 3789, (2015, May).
- Spirometry Testing in Occupational Health Programs - Best Practices for Healthcare Professionals. OSHA Publication 3637, (2013).
- Maximize Your Spirometry Screening and Surveillance Resources. OSHA/NIOSH InfoSheet (OSHA Publication 3415), (2011).
- Protect Yourself - Spirometry Breathing Test. OSHA/NIOSH Worker Info (OSHA Publication 3418), (2011).
- Medical Evaluation of Renal Effects of Cadmium Exposures. OSHA Brief (Publication 3675), (2013, August).