Biological Monitoring for Health Reasons
The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 requires employers to identify and then minimise hazards that cannot be eliminated. All practicable steps are to be taken to ensure a hazard does not harm employees and others.
There are two acknowledged techniques to monitor the working environment of your premises. The first is to monitor the environment itself and therefore making the assumption that if a certain level of exposure to hazardous substances is not reached, then it must be safe for your staff to work in.
The second technique looks at each staff member working within that environment, and monitors his or her health directly. This approach treats each person as an individual and is a better way of assuring staff safety.
This biological monitoring of workers evaluates the internal exposure or internal dose of a chemical agent that each person ingests from their environment
Eurofins New Zealand specialises in the measurement of substances in blood, urine and serum samples.
The main elements requested from Hospital and Community Health Laboratories are aluminium for dialysis patients, copper as an indicator of certain illnesses, and manganese, zinc and selenium where there is a concern about dietary deficiencies.
For Toxicologists we routinely determine lithium and carry out heavy metal screens to pick up possible poisons.
The main element of concern in the non-occupational environment is lead derived from old paints on houses. Those most at risk are children and people involved in home maintenance without any awareness of the hazards associated with the removal or treatment of surfaces that have been painted with lead based paints.
There are a variety of other potential problems in particular environments usually associated with a contaminated industrial site, which has passed into some other use. In New Zealand some common examples are old timber treatment sites contaminated with boron, copper, chromium and arsenic; tailings dumps from mineral extraction processes containing mercury, arsenic and other heavy metals; sites contaminated with petroleum sludges containing lead.