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Contractors told they must co-ordinate approach on staff medical fitness

Principal contractors are responsible for the medical fitness of plant operators on their sites, including subcontractors’ staff.

So said Health and Safety Executive specialist inspector occupational health Julie Wood at an open meeting of the Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group.

Her comment came at the launch of guidance on Medical Fitness to Operate Construction Plant drawn up by the Plant Safety Group in conjunction with the HSE, the UK Contractors Group and others.

Assessment clarification

A central aim of medical assessments is to demonstrate a plant operator is medically fit to undertake the tasks they are asked to do. The new guidance clarifies the medical fitness assessment process and outlines steps employers should take in ensuring and assessing the appropriate level of fitness for plant operators.

“We want to avoid each contractor imposing their own medical fitness regime so operators need different certificates on each site”

Kevin Minton, CPA

It covers planning, setting up and implementing medical fitness assessment arrangements, the medical fitness aspects of recruitment and managing employees who develop health problems. The guide sets a requirement for medical examination for operators every three years and annual self-assessments. 

Construction Plant-hire Association working group chairman and senior manager Kevin Minton told CN: “Some employers have used the medical examinations for truck drivers set by the DVLA, but our requirements are specifically tailored to plant operators.

“While the HSE has made it clear the primary responsibility rests with the principal contractor, we want to avoid each contractor imposing their own medical fitness regime so operators need different certificates on each site.”

Step-by-step guidance

To help employers implement the recommendations and in an effort to foster a uniform approach to medical fitness, the Plant Safety Group is working on a step-by-step guide to the application of the requirements.

This will divide plant operators into categories such as tower cranes, mobile cranes, static plant, powered access and ride-on mobile plant.   

“We decided to delay the introduction of the step-by-step application guide, as otherwise there was a danger that medical fitness could have become have a tick box operation rather than employers understanding the requirements,” Mr Minton says.

Copies of Medical Fitness to Operate Construction Plant can be downloaded free of charge from the CPA’s website.

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