Commission says no to mandatory health assessments for truck drivers

Cement Australia can’t force truck drivers to participate in its Physical Risk Review program.


A key plank of a new workplace health regime at Cement Australia has been struck down after a dispute with the Transport Workers Union (TWU).

The union had objected to the compulsory nature of the company’s Physical Risk Review program, which asked staff including drivers and maintenance officers to attend job-focused health screenings through a third-party provider.

It says the program represents an intrusion into workers’ privacy and results in the company assessing job performance through health information such as weight and cholesterol levels.

In the case of heavy-vehicle drivers, the tests are also redundant, the TWU says.

Drivers are subject to regular Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) assessments, which they must pass in order to be certified to drive heavy vehicles.

The company created the program after noticing an increasing trend in soft-tissue and musculoskeletal injuries in its workplaces.

Further research also found correlation between soft tissue injuries and obesity, with the company’s tanker drivers having the highest rates of both.

Cement Australia agrees some information will be retained under the program but says the small intrusion should not outweigh its importance as a vehicle for reducing injury risks among the workforce.

But the Fair Work Commission, which was called on to arbitrate the issue, has disagreed.

Commissioner Paula Spencer says the relevance and quality of the information obtained through the screenings will have little impact on injury rates.

"The outcome of the Risk Review Program will not provide medical information directed to the inherent requirements of the job or provide a link to reduce the musculoskeletal injury rate," she says in her written judgment.

"In addition, the Respondent (Cement Australia) could not conclusively provide that the privacy of employees’ medical information would be secured."

Spencer ruled that the requirement for Cement Australia employees to participate in the program did not constitute a "legal and reasonable" direction.


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